Some of your patients may complain of pain and tingling when it comes to neuropathy, but it often takes far too long for a patient to admit they are having trouble doing simple tasks like walking. It’s frustrating to find oneself not able to do things that used to be simple, and a lot of the time, patients resist being open about it until the ir lack of dexterity becomes obvious.
One of the most common symptoms of neuropathy, called motor neuropathy, causes signals not to be delivered properly to the muscles in the arms and legs, resulting in a clumsy gait, as well as a frustrating lack of overall dexterity. Since your patient’s muscles aren’t being used the way they’re supposed to, they can fall out of use over time, causing the loss of strength many neuropathy sufferers complain about. Even patients with a significant level of neuropathic pain complain most that the most difficult part about living with neuropathy is the frustration at not being able to do something as simple as walking!
The most important thing you, as a clinician, can do is ask questions. Since many patients are less than forthcoming when it comes to trouble walking or standing, you may have to be proactive. Once muscle weakness is established as a symptom, we have to remember that there are really two causes to difficulty walking related to neuropathy: nerves aren’t conducting properly, and muscles are weakening. There are many approaches to the first problem, ranging from the pharmaceutical remedies you’re probably familiar with ( medicine tends to resort directly to drugs first).
At NeuropathyDR®, we advocate limiting pharmaceutical solutions to very specific cases, as more modern methods tend to produce better, longer-lasting results. Electric stimulation in several forms, for example, are methods that are still being studied (we conduct studies ourselves), which have been shown to achieve very good results in a large majority of patients.
The second cause, muscle weakness, can be addressed with a regimen of careful eating and exercise. It’s true that traditional exercise can be difficult for a patient when it’s difficult for them to even walk or stand, but remember: the more muscles move, the less they will break down. Also, the better overall blood circulation, the slower deterioration of nerves will happen! Develop an exercise routine with your patient that emphasizes low-impact exercise such as swimming, rowing, or cycling. High-impact exercises are hard on nerves, and are generally more difficult for neuropathy patients.
If you have questions about developing a neuropathy-friendly practice, contact NeuropathyDR®! We are more than happy to answer your questions.
Our patient, Richard, had been living with his muscle weakness for more than seven years when he came to NeuropathyDR®. Richard presented with numbness and tingling in his feet, burning in his limbs, and overall weakness in his arms and legs. Between the pain, stiffness, and weakness, Richard was having a frustrating amount of trouble walking and doing manual tasks. We decided our priority was to get Richard back to using his limbs the right way, and we developed a five-week regimen for him that combined regular examinations, electro-stimulation, and a customized, low-impact exercise routine that targeted the under-used muscle areas.
Richard’s improvement was dramatic. After every checkup and every electro-stimulation session, he reported that his symptoms had subsided. His pain and tingling were less, especially immediately after treatment, and his overall response to the exercise program meant that he was able to complete manual tasks and exhibit a motion range dramatically better than when he started.
Richard was extremely pleased with his NeuropathyDR® experience. In his post-treatment follow-up, he let us know that he was enjoying a range of motion greater than he had had in seven years! Six weeks after the treatments were complete, Richard reported that he had continued to implement the method NeuropathyDR® developed for him, and his symptoms were continuing to improve. Another NeuropathyDR® success!
Contact us if you have patients who have trouble walking, standing, or doing other everyday manual tasks. Motor neuropathy is one of the biggest problems nerve damage can cause to a patient’s quality of life. We are here as a resource to help you provide the best care possible.
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