February 26, 2021 4 min read
Do you know what the peripheral nervous system is? This is system of nerves in charge of sending signals to and from your brain and your spinal cord (the body’s central nervous system). So, what they for? They help you feel when your skin touches something and play a role in controlling muscle movement and other bodily functions.
Now, think of what happens if this system of nerves becomes damaged: the ability to feel sensation would be impaired or maybe even completely lost. Your muscles would become weak, meaning movement is affected and limited. Moreover, you may even experience lingering pain. This is what is known as neuropathy. One or more peripheral nerves can be damaged and affected by neuropathy.
What causes neuropathy?
Neuropathy can be genetic or acquired. Meaning you’ve either had neuropathy since birth or it has developed along the way.
Many neuropathy cases are acquired and symptomatic, which means that another disease or condition caused them. Symptomatic cases may include those that result from diabetes, infection, autoimmune diseases, vitamin deficiency, nerve trauma or pressure, toxin exposure, chemotherapy, and other medications, and more. Then again, some neuropathy cases have no known cause, this is also known as idiopathic neuropathy.
Advanced symptoms of peripheral nerve damage
Symptoms of nerve damage can create a great deal of difficulty in people’s lives. Physical touch can become unbearable because of the amount of pain it causes. From intolerance to touch to GI issues, peripheral nerve damage symptoms vary based on the nerves affected.
Muscle weakness, cramps, shrinking muscles, and uncontrollable muscle twitching can be signs of motor nerve damage. Sensory nerve damage can inhibit your ability to feel sensation in your hands and feet, and provoke the body’s pain receptors to fire spontaneously, causing severe discomfort from even a gentle touch. Symptoms of autonomic nerve damage might include intolerance to heat, gastrointestinal problems, and high blood pressure.
How is neuropathy treated?
Once you have had a thorough medical evaluation and diagnosis, you can start looking into options to treat the symptoms you experience. Among the popular choices are proper diet and lifestyle modifications. What if you need medication? You may be reliant on pain relievers or topical creams to manage the accompanying painful and tingling sensations. Physical therapy might also be advantageous if you are experiencing muscle weakness.
But is there an alternative way cope with this condition? Yes, there is: massage therapy. And what are these benefits that can help you manage neuropathy?
Benefits of massage therapy for neuropathy
Massage therapy can be highly beneficial patients with nerve damage or tingling and burning sensations in the skin, hands, and feet. Caregivers may administer massage therapy, and a trained therapist can be effective in targeting the proper areas and using the right amounts of pressure. The most important thing for anyone giving a massage is understanding your pain tolerance threshold and where discoloration may appear on the body.
Massage chairs can be an easy and convenient way to get a targeted, customized massage. You control the settings, including speed and strength of the massage, putting you in full control. A combination of light strokes, kneading, and light pressure will increase blood flow and circulation. With regular use of massage therapy treatment, those with numbness and tingling sensations may find their pain tolerance has increased.
Massage therapy helps with pain management
Have you felt paint like your feet were on fire? This is often referred to as burning feet and it’s very common among people with neuropathy. The chronic pain can be so severe that walking or simply standing on your feet becomes virtually impossible. So, how can massage help you with neuropathic pain management?
A study conducted on post-operative care for patients who underwent surgery shows that decreased pain levels were observed in patients who were given massage therapy. The study noted one of the physiological effects of massage includes closing the brain’s “pain gate”. In other words, it changes the way that the brain receives pain signals.
Massage therapy helps improve blood circulation
Have you ever had a massage and felt invigorated right after the session? This is because it helps in improving the blood flow of your body. You can count on that same benefit if you suffer from neuropathy.
Massage, including heated massage, has been known and recognized to be effective to manage neuropathic pain and quality of life in Diabetic Patients. It may be challenging to get access to regular massage during the pandemic, but some massage chair can do it perfectly.
For example, a study diabetic patient with peripheral neuropathy found that patients who received foot massage reported improved symptoms. Researchers explained that direct pressure from massage therapy pushes blood away from areas of poor circulation. The result of this the pressure distribution relieves pressure from the affected nerves.
What about when neuropathy causes trouble with your muscles and movement?
Massage therapy also helps improve range of motion and balance
From the same study that demonstrated improved blood circulation among neuropathic diabetic patients, more observations were noted. Massage can help in regaining muscle control and balance, resulting in a physically rehabilitating effect on the patients. So, how is this possible with massage?
As massage improves blood circulation and relieves pressure from the affected nerves, it then returns sensation on the skin. How does this help you if you are suffering from neuropathy in the legs and feet? When sensation on the skin, especially on the bottom of your feet, is restored, you address the numbness that comes with neuropathy. As you start regaining sensation, you can expect to regain muscle strength.
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