Physical and Occupational Therapy for Peripheral Neuropathy
The objectives of physical therapy include:
- Maintaining a range of motion - passive range of motion exercises consist of progressive stretching.
- Strengthening muscles - this includes exercising against increasing resistance, use of weights, and isometric exercise
A patient should continue with directed exercises once they have reached a maintenance level. Physical therapists can also recommend braces and/or splints to enhance balance and posture.
Splinting is often used in the treatment of compression mononeuropathies, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Physical therapy may be helpful in maintaining strength, mobility, and function regardless of the underlying cause of PN. Patients with diabetic neuropathy may also benefit from physical therapy, however, diabetic neuropathy patients must also tightly control their blood sugar levels to prevent major fluctuations.
Occupational therapy is instrumental in helping the patient cope with the functional, vocational, and social impact of peripheral neuropathy by:
- Improving sensory-motor skills
- Teaching the patient to avoid exposure to environmental or industrial toxins
- Teaching self-care activities
- Teaching the patient safety issues, (e.g., paying more attention to the terrain when walking since falling or tripping may pose a risk for patients with PN)
- Teaching the patient to pay attention to issues which involve automatic functions (e.g., learning how to change positions smoothly to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure and the risk of falling)