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Peripheral Neuropathy and Foot Massage 

Peripheral Neuropathy and Foot Massage 

Many studies and many people have proved that massage therapy, specifically foot massage, provides some definite relief from peripheral neuropathy. We will go into greater detail later in this article, but for now, let’s first discuss what peripheral neuropathy is precisely. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, peripheral neuropathy is “Peripheral neuropathy happens when the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) are damaged. This condition often causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet. It also can affect other areas and body functions, including digestion and urination.” They go on to say, “Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes, and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes of neuropathy is diabetes.” Some toxins associated with peripheral neuropathy could be: 

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Acrylamide 
  • Alcohol 
  • Arsenic 
  • Brevotoxin (from algae by means of the shellfish that eat it) 
  • Buckthorn berry toxin 
  • Cadmium 
  • Carbon disulfide (alone or as a contaminant of Agent Orange) 
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (new agent replacing 1-bromopropane) 
  • Ciguatera toxin (from algae by means of the shellfish that eat it) 
  • Dioxins (alone or as a contaminant of Agent Orange) 
  • Ethanol 
  • Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) 
  • Hexacarbons (in solvents and glues) 
  • Tetrodotoxin (from puffer fish) 
  • Lead 
  • Mercury (acute exposure to high dose) 
  • Nitrous oxide (causing depletion of vitamin B12) 
  • Organophosphates (insecticide) 
  • Saxitoxin (from algae by means of the shellfish that eat it) 
  • Thallium (associated with hair loss) 
  • Zinc Toxicity (leading to copper deficiency) 

For example, toxins in chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients can cause “Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)” which typically appears in the hands and feet. Symptoms can include pain, burning, tingling, or an intense pins and needles sensation. The intensity varies from person to person and depends on the type of immunotherapy administered.  

CIPN may be treated with over-the-counter pain medications if it is particularly bothersome. However, speaking with your doctor before taking any painkillers is recommended.  

CIPN typically subsides after chemo has stopped or you have received radiation therapy. In some cases, the pain never goes away, and there is permanent damage to the nerves. Talk to your doctor about surgical measures to possibly “block” the pain. 

Foot massages are among the most underrated forms of self-care and pain management. A handheld foot massager is a super convenient way to give yourself the care you need at any time of the day. Here’s a quick list of beneficial reasons to invest in your feet: 

  • Improves circulation 
  • Stimulates muscles 
  • Reduces tension 
  • Eases pain  

Massaging our feet daily also allows us to check on our feet to address any blisters, bunions, corns, or toenail problems right away.  

What about those of us that do not have a masseuse on hand or a willing participant? That’s when those fantastic foot massagers come into play.  

Before consulting “Dr. Google” or reading any further in this article, should you suspect that you may have nerve damage or sciatica neuropathy, always consult a professional medical provider or your family physician first. Get medical attention immediately if you cannot walk or have excruciating pain. 

Does massage therapy help chemo-induced neuropathy? 

Unless you have had cancer, you know someone who has, or you work in oncology, there is little information out there regarding chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).   

Short-and long-term toxicity of platinum compounds and taxanes (chemicals in chemotherapy) include the “recipe” for the development of CIPN, for which there are limited options for symptomatic relief.  

Some of the long-term side effects of cancer treatment include: 

  • Sleeping disorders 
  • Dental disorders 
  • Generalized fatigue 
  • Sexual side effects 
  • Mental fogginess 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Neuropathy 
  • Joint pain 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Gastrointestinal issues 
  • Osteoporosis 

These are just some of the more common long-term side effects patients face. But each person is different and will experience different things.  

Chemo, specifically, can also cause other more specific side effects, such as: 

  1. Anemia (low red blood cell counts) 
  2. Leukopenia (low white blood cell counts) 
  3. Thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) 
  4. Fatigue 
  5. Loss of appetite 
  6. Mouth and throat soreness 
  7. Skin and nail changes 
  8. Early menopause  

If you know someone who is a cancer survivor, please be understanding if they’re not as “happy” as you think they should be. They’ve been through a lot and are still fighting every day. 

Although anti-neuropathic medications are available, there is increased interest from healthcare providers and patients in complementary approaches for symptom control, such as oncology massage therapy.  

When neuropathy is in the feet and hands, foot massagers are very beneficial, while a quality TENS unit also helps the hands and feet.  

Zarifa’s foot massagers help restore strength and flexibility to your feet, relieve stiffness and tension, and improve blood flow and circulation. In addition, the heated massage option is excellent for restoring some feeling to cold toes and warming up your feet after a cold day. 

This relaxation not only helps patients cope emotionally but also facilitates overall healing and well-being. By targeting specific pressure points on the feet, foot massages can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, triggering a state of deep relaxation and aiding in stress reduction. 

Why does chemo cause side effects? 

According to the American Cancer Society, “cancer cells tend to grow fast, and chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells. But because these drugs travel throughout the body, they can also affect normal, healthy cells that are fast-growing. Damage to healthy cells causes side effects.  

The normal cells most likely to be damaged by chemo are: 

  • Blood-forming cells in the bone marrow 
  • Hair follicles 
  • Cells in the mouth, digestive tract, and reproductive system 

Some chemo drugs can damage the heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system cells. Sometimes, you can take medicines with chemo to help protect your body’s normal cells. There are also treatments to help relieve side effects. 

The most common side effects from chemo happen because it lowers the levels of healthy blood cells in your body. These cells fight infection, help with blood clotting, and carry oxygen to all parts of your body,”. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy/chemotherapy-side-effects.html 

Long-term psychological effects of cancer 

A cancer diagnosis can affect the emotional health of patients, families, and caregivers. Common feelings during this life-changing experience include anxiety, distress, and depression. Roles at home, school, and work can be affected. It’s important to recognize these changes and get help when needed. 

Counseling and support groups can be beneficial. There are also many online resources available. For example, the National Cancer Institute’s PDQ® Cancer Information Summaries for patients have more information on cancer-related emotional issues.  

It is common for cancer survivors to experience anxiety and depression. These feelings may be caused by the cancer itself or by the treatment. Some late effects of cancer treatment can also lead to psychological problems. Survivors need help in finding ways to manage anxiety and depression. Some people find counseling, support groups, and online resources helpful. 

Cancer survivors may worry about the cancer coming back (recurrence). They may also worry about other health problems related to the cancer or its treatment. For example, people who have had radiation therapy to the chest area may worry about heart disease.  

Some may also have trouble sleeping, feel tired all the time (fatigue), or have physical problems that make it hard to do everyday activities. These problems can make it hard to cope with the emotional effects of cancer.  

Some may have trouble with sexual side effects, both men and women. These problems can affect relationships, fertility, desire, and hopes for the future. 

Foot massage effects on brain 

According to a 2010 Karolinska Institute study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, frequent foot massages help alleviate sadness by amping up the production of oxytocin.  

In addition to providing physical health benefits, frequent foot massages can positively affect our mental health. Studies have found that regular foot massages can help to reduce stress and improve mood and have been shown to help reduce anxiety in cancer patients, which is a tremendous benefit to those still in active treatment. This is likely due to the release of endorphins and other hormones activated during a massage. Endorphins are known to have a calming effect and can help to reduce anxiety. 

Foot massages have also been found to improve cognitive function. Studies have shown that when people are given regular foot massages, they tend to have better concentration and focus than those who do not receive regular massages. This could be due to increased blood circulation to the brain, which provides more oxygen and nutrients and helps improve cognitive function. 

In addition to the physical and cognitive benefits of regular foot massages, they can also help to improve our social lives. For example, studies have shown that regular foot massages can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as help to improve our relationships with others. In addition, foot massages can help create a sense of connection and intimacy, leading to better communication and stronger relationships. 

By increasing blood circulation, foot massages contribute to a more efficient nutrient delivery system to the brain, thereby enhancing cognitive performance. This can be particularly beneficial for cancer patients experiencing “chemo brain” or cognitive fogginess, a common side effect of cancer treatment. 

Furthermore, foot massages improve blood circulation in the feet and throughout the body, including the brain. This increased blood flow delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to brain cells, supporting optimal functioning. As a result, cognitive abilities, such as concentration, memory, and focus, can be enhanced. 

Invest in regular foot massages for yourself when looking for a way to reduce stress, improve mood and cognitive function, and strengthen relationships. Not only will you give your feet a much-deserved break, but you’ll also be reaping the many mental health benefits of regular foot massages. 

Best foot massage machine 

Zarifa Foot Massager – Shiatsu Kneading and Rolling Massager 

Investing in regular foot massages is essential for our overall well-being. A foot massage machine is a great way to give yourself the same benefits as a professional massage.  

Foot massage machines come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. They are designed to target different areas of the feet, depending on where you feel tension or pain. Some foot massage machines are even designed to help with plantar fasciitis, heel pain, neuropathy, and any other foot ailments. 

Investing in a foot massage machine is a great way to care for your feet and body. Having a foot massage machine at home means getting the same benefits as a professional massage anytime, anywhere. It also means you can save money in the long run as you don’t have to pay for expensive professional massages whenever those “dogs” tire. It’s a great way to treat yourself and your feet. 

 

What should you NOT do after a foot massage? 

We’ve talked about the benefits, the best time of day, and how massage works on the brain, but let’s talk about what we should NOT do after a massage. Those are important details to understand, too. Below is a list of things not to do after your nightly foot massage: 

  1. Don’t drink less than 8-20oz of water 
  1. Do not take a hot shower immediately following the massage 
  1. Do not eat a large meal immediately following either 
  1. Avoid drinking coffee afterward 
  1. Do not drink alcohol; it dehydrates the body and blocks the release of toxins 
  1. Do not do any strenuous exercises or activities afterward 
  1. Try to avoid stress if you are able and try to stay calm so the muscles do not tighten up again 
  1. Do not forget to stretch before and after 
  1. Do not avoid the homework from your physical therapist 

 

Using your massage chair for self-care and meditation 

Massage chairs are great for taking care of yourself! They can help you relax, de-stress, reduce pain, and improve your sleep. Plus, massage chairs can also help you meditate. Here’s how:  

  • Get comfortable in the massage chair and close your eyes 
  • Focus on your breathing and take deep breaths 
  • Clear your mind and let go of any thoughts or worries 
  • Stay in the moment and enjoy the massage chair’s soothing movements 
  • When your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your breathing 

Using a massage chair can be a great way to practice self-care and meditation. It’s an easy, convenient, and drug-free way to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and boost your overall health and well-being. 

 

Benefits of combining meditation and massage 

Reduction in Anxiety 

Research has shown that massage can effectively reduce stress and anxiety, especially for those living with chronic, progressive diseases such as cancer or diabetes. The calming effects of massage can help improve mood, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation. Also markedly beneficial for those with anxiety or other mental health issues.  

A study by New York University found that regular meditation and massage can positively impact anxiety. The study involved participants aged 18-45 meditating for 13 minutes a day for eight weeks. Results showed that participants experienced decreased anxiety, fatigue, behavioral anxiety, and mood disturbances. 

When combined with meditation, massage can be an even more powerful tool for reducing anxiety and promoting healing. Massage helps to relax the body and mind, while meditation allows the mind to remain focused and reduce stress - a powerful combination for reducing anxiety and improving overall well-being. 

Massage can also help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as headaches, muscle tension, and tightness in the chest. It can also help improve sleep quality, benefiting those struggling with anxiety. 

Massage is a natural, drug-free way to reduce stress and anxiety. By incorporating massage into your self-care routine, you can enjoy a calmer and more relaxed state of mind. 

In addition to the physical and psychological benefits of massage and foot massages specifically, the warmth and comfort provided by these foot massagers can bring much-needed relief to cancer patients. Many individuals undergoing chemotherapy experience cold feet as a side effect, and the heated massage option offered by Zarifa’s foot massagers can help restore warmth and sensation, providing immediate comfort and relief. 

 

Peripheral neuropathy and foot massage 

Foot massages are a proven way to relieve stress and tension, as they stimulate the reflex zones in the feet to relax the body’s muscles and improve circulation. Any type of massage will help stimulate the release of endorphins that scientifically and biologically reduce stress as well as anxiety levels. In addition, regular foot massages will help maintain balance and relaxation, also, again aiding in reducing stress.  

In conclusion, foot massages have emerged as a promising therapeutic intervention for managing the symptoms of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Through their ability to improve circulation, promote relaxation, and alleviate pain, foot massages offer cancer patients a natural and non-invasive option for enhancing their overall well-being.  

In summary, foot massages have intriguing effects on the brain. By releasing endorphins, improving blood circulation, and stimulating oxytocin production, foot massages promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance cognitive function.  

These benefits can significantly improve mental well-being, mood, and overall quality of life for individuals undergoing cancer treatment.  

Important to note that foot massages should be viewed as a complementary approach and should not replace conventional medical treatments. 

Work with healthcare professionals and seek their guidance to ensure that foot massages are integrated safely and effectively into a comprehensive cancer treatment strategy.  

So, kick off your shoes, sit back, and let the soothing touch of a foot massage provide a much-needed respite on your healing journey. 

 

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