Physical Therapy for Peripheral Neuropathy

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John212
John212 Member Posts: 116 Member

Tomorrow I'm starting a course of Physical Therapy to try to mitigate the symptoms of Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy. I'm using the PT department of the hospital where I had my surgery and later treatment. While there is no cure for neuropathy, there is some hope that therapy can help persuade the nervous system to, in layman's terms, build some new pathways to restore feeling to numb feet and fingers.

Has anyone else done PT for neuropathy? What was your experience?

I will update this as I go along.

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  • hippiechicks
    hippiechicks Member Posts: 509 Member
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    Hi John .. I have been in PT

    Hi John .. I have been in PT since my last surgery over 2 years ago.  It is part of my routine, and I find it essential to my healing process.  I did try to stop for a short time and things went badly fast.  I was in a lot of pain and numbness was much much worse.  I highly recommend it and wish you much luck.  I hope you have postive results. 

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    Hi John .. I have been in PT

    Hi John .. I have been in PT since my last surgery over 2 years ago.  It is part of my routine, and I find it essential to my healing process.  I did try to stop for a short time and things went badly fast.  I was in a lot of pain and numbness was much much worse.  I highly recommend it and wish you much luck.  I hope you have postive results. 

    Thanks for joining in

    Glad you chimed in. What sorts of exercises or activities have you been doing in PT?

  • hippiechicks
    hippiechicks Member Posts: 509 Member
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    John212 said:

    Thanks for joining in

    Glad you chimed in. What sorts of exercises or activities have you been doing in PT?

    For the most part I am

    For the most part I am streched.  For some reason, since my chemo/surgery my fascia tissue goes bonkers if I do not continually have it stretched.  I spasm from literally head to toe. It has pulled me to the point of needing chiropractic adjustment for alignment.  Keeping my body exercised and stretched is the only way to stay pain free and aligned.

    Heat such as ultra sound has been used and I also heat different areas of my body several times a day when needed.  I use a microwave heat pack and just apply where needed.  I also use whirlpool tub/jet tub for heat and circulation.  All of these techniques have helped my neuropathy in my hand and foot (I seem only affected on my left side).  

    I try to do things like type and wear good shoes that require my toes to grip to keep them active and help nerve pathways also. 

    Another great therapy I used was called zero balance.  This was remarkable for the fascia tissue.  However, not many PT places do that. 

    I also have found accupuncture to be a wonderful help during chemo and beyond. 

    I also use message therapy.  My hospital provided this during chemo, and a local organization later for cancer patients. It has been a wonderful help to me. 

    I wish you the best tomorrow and hope this information is of help to you. 

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    For the most part I am

    For the most part I am streched.  For some reason, since my chemo/surgery my fascia tissue goes bonkers if I do not continually have it stretched.  I spasm from literally head to toe. It has pulled me to the point of needing chiropractic adjustment for alignment.  Keeping my body exercised and stretched is the only way to stay pain free and aligned.

    Heat such as ultra sound has been used and I also heat different areas of my body several times a day when needed.  I use a microwave heat pack and just apply where needed.  I also use whirlpool tub/jet tub for heat and circulation.  All of these techniques have helped my neuropathy in my hand and foot (I seem only affected on my left side).  

    I try to do things like type and wear good shoes that require my toes to grip to keep them active and help nerve pathways also. 

    Another great therapy I used was called zero balance.  This was remarkable for the fascia tissue.  However, not many PT places do that. 

    I also have found accupuncture to be a wonderful help during chemo and beyond. 

    I also use message therapy.  My hospital provided this during chemo, and a local organization later for cancer patients. It has been a wonderful help to me. 

    I wish you the best tomorrow and hope this information is of help to you. 

    Thanks

    Hippicichicks, thanks for the details.

    Today was primarily about assessing the damage and talking about where we'll go from here. My first actual therapy session will happen this Saturday. One treatment the therapist described that she knows we'll do involves a vibrating plate. Most of what we'll do will revolve around increasing circulation to the affected areas. We also talked about ways that I'll be able to exercise that won't hurt and will possibly supplemnnt the therapy. It's going to be an intersting ride.

  • NewHere
    NewHere Member Posts: 1,427 Member
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    John212 said:

    Thanks

    Hippicichicks, thanks for the details.

    Today was primarily about assessing the damage and talking about where we'll go from here. My first actual therapy session will happen this Saturday. One treatment the therapist described that she knows we'll do involves a vibrating plate. Most of what we'll do will revolve around increasing circulation to the affected areas. We also talked about ways that I'll be able to exercise that won't hurt and will possibly supplemnnt the therapy. It's going to be an intersting ride.

    Yoga?

    I started looking into some things based on the discussions for the Peripheral Neuropathy and know some people who do yoga, so I started looking around.  I am guessing that any activity can probably help, but there looks to be some gentler movmenets in yoga that may work.  

  • hippiechicks
    hippiechicks Member Posts: 509 Member
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    NewHere said:

    Yoga?

    I started looking into some things based on the discussions for the Peripheral Neuropathy and know some people who do yoga, so I started looking around.  I am guessing that any activity can probably help, but there looks to be some gentler movmenets in yoga that may work.  

    Yes!! I have heard this as

    Yes!! I have heard this as well.  For me it has been challenging to find/attend one, but is on my "to do soon" list! 

  • hippiechicks
    hippiechicks Member Posts: 509 Member
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    John212 said:

    Thanks

    Hippicichicks, thanks for the details.

    Today was primarily about assessing the damage and talking about where we'll go from here. My first actual therapy session will happen this Saturday. One treatment the therapist described that she knows we'll do involves a vibrating plate. Most of what we'll do will revolve around increasing circulation to the affected areas. We also talked about ways that I'll be able to exercise that won't hurt and will possibly supplemnnt the therapy. It's going to be an intersting ride.

    A vibrating plate?? How

    Hi John212, A vibrating plate?? How interesting!  Please share your experience .. I look forward  to hearing about this! 

    I did not have good luck when I tried to leave therapy for the gym .. it actually set me back just about one entire year! I developed severe planter fasciatis and foot drop.  Both have since been corrected with lots of PT ... I will not stray that way again without a personal trainer or something of the sort. 

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    A vibrating plate?? How

    Hi John212, A vibrating plate?? How interesting!  Please share your experience .. I look forward  to hearing about this! 

    I did not have good luck when I tried to leave therapy for the gym .. it actually set me back just about one entire year! I developed severe planter fasciatis and foot drop.  Both have since been corrected with lots of PT ... I will not stray that way again without a personal trainer or something of the sort. 

    Exercise

    I've been a bit reluctant to exercise as well, though for different reasons. I tried swimming since that doesn't put pressure on the feet, but I'm so out of shape that I could only walk. The bottom of the pool hurt my feet. Back to square 1. We're going to try a stationary bike and a couple of simple floor exercises to build strength in my legs. I'm definitely holding to whatever exercise the Physical Therapist recommends and not stray far from her ideas at all.

    I'll see if I can remember to get a brand name on the vibrating plate or take a picture with my phone and post it. 

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    First session of physical therapy

    Saturday was the first session of actual physical therapy. We opened with several minutes of stationary bike to get warmed up, and then went through a series of exercises to loosen certain muscle groups and then to strengthen some. I have especially tight calves and hamstrings, so we did a lot of strethces there. My hips are weak, so we started doing some work on my core. The rationale for this is that I need to improve my balance. Because neuropathy causes us to lose much of our proprioception that would usually come through the bottoms of our feet, we need to make sure that the other contributing factors to balance can make up the difference.

    Finally, as the last act of the session, we used the Vibra-Flex machine. It looks a bit like a short square treadmill, but the surface vibrates rather than passing over a set of rollers. I sat next to it and rested my feet on the pad and it shook the heck out of my feet for 6 minutes. I get the impression that we'll increase the time and vibration frequency as we go along.

    After the session, I felt more pins-and-needles in my feet and ankles than usual. Normally, they just feel numb unless I'm walking and then there's pain as well. This change lasted for a few hours. I'll take that as a sign that what we did during the session had some impace. Whether this will translate to permanent improvement over time is another question.

  • abrub
    abrub Member Posts: 2,174 Member
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    Acupressure insoles

    I recently discovered Zeta Acupressure insoles; they've helped my feet tremendously.  I got them on Amazon for $13, but the price recently doubled.  I swear by them!

    Alice

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    abrub said:

    Acupressure insoles

    I recently discovered Zeta Acupressure insoles; they've helped my feet tremendously.  I got them on Amazon for $13, but the price recently doubled.  I swear by them!

    Alice

    Sounds intriguing

    Seems like I read about those insoles somewhere else and plenty of people have found them useful. I suppose all the stimulation from the little bubbles increases the circulation in your foot, which is a good thing.

  • abrub
    abrub Member Posts: 2,174 Member
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    John212 said:

    Sounds intriguing

    Seems like I read about those insoles somewhere else and plenty of people have found them useful. I suppose all the stimulation from the little bubbles increases the circulation in your foot, which is a good thing.

    I mentioned them on another thread.

    I mentioned them on another thread a while ago.  I swear by them.  And my husband, a great skeptic, now swears by them too.  For the first time in years, his feet aren't aching in his XC ski boots.

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    Three sessions under my belt

    I've now had three sessions with a physical therapist and I can report some small changes already. The bottoms of my feet feel more "alive" than they used to, though the amount of change is subtle. I get pain in my toes in places that used to be too numb for pain. The feet still feel like bricks when I walk outside in the cold but I can imagine that might be one of the last symptoms to recede.

    We've been working on balance and strength a lot. In each session we've been challenging my body to find balance under more and more difficult conditions. The worst so far has been to stand on a foam pad (about 3" thick) with my feet in a heel-to-toe arrangement, so one in front of the other. I can manage to stay well balanced like this for about a minute, though my legs are a bit wobbly most of the time. But then she tells me to close my eyes and I fall on my a** in ten seconds or less. Walking on a balance beam on the floor is also pretty tricky, but seems to be getting a little easier as we go along.

    So, I feel like I'm noticing some tiny improvements with the PT. And that's very encouraging.

  • NewHere
    NewHere Member Posts: 1,427 Member
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    John212 said:

    Three sessions under my belt

    I've now had three sessions with a physical therapist and I can report some small changes already. The bottoms of my feet feel more "alive" than they used to, though the amount of change is subtle. I get pain in my toes in places that used to be too numb for pain. The feet still feel like bricks when I walk outside in the cold but I can imagine that might be one of the last symptoms to recede.

    We've been working on balance and strength a lot. In each session we've been challenging my body to find balance under more and more difficult conditions. The worst so far has been to stand on a foam pad (about 3" thick) with my feet in a heel-to-toe arrangement, so one in front of the other. I can manage to stay well balanced like this for about a minute, though my legs are a bit wobbly most of the time. But then she tells me to close my eyes and I fall on my a** in ten seconds or less. Walking on a balance beam on the floor is also pretty tricky, but seems to be getting a little easier as we go along.

    So, I feel like I'm noticing some tiny improvements with the PT. And that's very encouraging.

    Good News

    Sounds like you have having things go the right direction with the PT.  Happy to hear you have pain in your toes - well you know what I mean Laughing  Keep up the great work, it sounds like you are responding already.  

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    NewHere said:

    Good News

    Sounds like you have having things go the right direction with the PT.  Happy to hear you have pain in your toes - well you know what I mean Laughing  Keep up the great work, it sounds like you are responding already.  

    A technique you can do at home

    One of the features of my PT regimen is trying to trick the nerves in my legs and feet to work differently. That's one of the reasons for all the balance work, for example. And here's another: my therapist has me doing massage on myself at home. To do this, I'm using several different items as massage tools: a couple of hair brushes, a comb, a wash cloth, and my hands. The idea is to give the nerves there lots of different kinds of input, so there's no limit to the kinds of things you could use for this. I rub my calves, ankles, and feet with these different items, including the backs of the hair brushes for a minute or so each in the morning and then again at night. It feels good and may well be contributing to some change.

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,800 Member
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    John212 said:

    A technique you can do at home

    One of the features of my PT regimen is trying to trick the nerves in my legs and feet to work differently. That's one of the reasons for all the balance work, for example. And here's another: my therapist has me doing massage on myself at home. To do this, I'm using several different items as massage tools: a couple of hair brushes, a comb, a wash cloth, and my hands. The idea is to give the nerves there lots of different kinds of input, so there's no limit to the kinds of things you could use for this. I rub my calves, ankles, and feet with these different items, including the backs of the hair brushes for a minute or so each in the morning and then again at night. It feels good and may well be contributing to some change.

    Shower heads

    I am 18 months out of treatment, and this week, when my husband was playing with me, he tickeled my feet and I FELT IT.  I was so excited   image.

    Anyway, I have never been to PT, but I do brush my feet and legs (my neuropathy went clear up to my knees in the early stages). I also have one of those shower heads that have several different settings. I use each one directly on my feet whenever I shower (the shower has a detacable hose. I don't want you to think I cock my leg up toward the shower head. HA!). I have found both the brushing and shower to be stimulating, and hoping that they have helped me get where I am today. 

    With this weeks progress, I am really hoping that one day I will have normal feet again as I confess to have given up hope. 

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    Trubrit said:

    Shower heads

    I am 18 months out of treatment, and this week, when my husband was playing with me, he tickeled my feet and I FELT IT.  I was so excited   image.

    Anyway, I have never been to PT, but I do brush my feet and legs (my neuropathy went clear up to my knees in the early stages). I also have one of those shower heads that have several different settings. I use each one directly on my feet whenever I shower (the shower has a detacable hose. I don't want you to think I cock my leg up toward the shower head. HA!). I have found both the brushing and shower to be stimulating, and hoping that they have helped me get where I am today. 

    With this weeks progress, I am really hoping that one day I will have normal feet again as I confess to have given up hope. 

    Tickling

    This is great news indeed. I don't know much about the science of all this, but it is clear from numerous case studies and other research that our nervous system can be amazingly plastic (capable of change, that is). People who suffer brain injury and initially lose their speech, can learn again how to speak. It seems to be largely about making the nervous system find new pathways for the information since the old ones are like washed out roads.

    Keep up the tickling. It may pay off in other ways, too. Laughing

  • hippiechicks
    hippiechicks Member Posts: 509 Member
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    This is fantastic news!  So

    This is fantastic news!  So glad things seem to be helping!

    I am going to bring the balance information to my PT appointment.  I still fall fairly often, miss steps and such. 

    I have also been told to do exercises such as standing on tip toes and down several times a day.  I find holding on to something is most helpful. Wink

  • John212
    John212 Member Posts: 116 Member
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    PT is over; now I'm on my own

    Last week I had my final PT session, which was largely about making sure I knew what to do as I continued to exercise on my own. I've had enough improvement that it seems clear that at least some of the things we were doing during PT have worked. I have more feeling in my toes and I can control my toes better. So now I'm doing a 1 hour workout three times each week. About half the workout is exercises we did in PT, revolving around balance and strength in my lower legs and ankles. The other half is spent using various weight machines to build some core strength and upper body strength, which are both pretty low right now.

    For anyone considering this route, I'd say it's worth a try. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll develop an arsenal of exercises that will make you stronger and more physically secure. And you might just see some improvemnt in your neuropathy.

     

     

  • NewHere
    NewHere Member Posts: 1,427 Member
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    John212 said:

    PT is over; now I'm on my own

    Last week I had my final PT session, which was largely about making sure I knew what to do as I continued to exercise on my own. I've had enough improvement that it seems clear that at least some of the things we were doing during PT have worked. I have more feeling in my toes and I can control my toes better. So now I'm doing a 1 hour workout three times each week. About half the workout is exercises we did in PT, revolving around balance and strength in my lower legs and ankles. The other half is spent using various weight machines to build some core strength and upper body strength, which are both pretty low right now.

    For anyone considering this route, I'd say it's worth a try. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll develop an arsenal of exercises that will make you stronger and more physically secure. And you might just see some improvemnt in your neuropathy.

     

     

    Good To Hear

    That the PT is helping and you are continuing on your own.

    Each time should improve things more and more.  I need to start getting some exercise myself during the good points between chemo sessions, going to start with walking until my port is healed enough to do a bit more.