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Question 2:

Can physical therapy help someone with idiopathic peripheral neuropathy that has balance problems?

–Kathy

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Answer: Dr. Marc Robinson

Hi Kathy,

Thank you for your question. Yes, physical therapy can help with idiopathic peripheral neuropathy. As you may have experienced, peripheral neuropathy can influence balance due to the disruption in the motor and sensory nerves in the feet. I want to encourage you that balance training and coordination exercises can stimulate those nerves and help your body to develop compensatory adaptations. Depending on the extent of the nerve disruption, the nerves may not fully regenerate, but your overall balance, mobility and quality of life can improve.

The balance systems in the body consists of the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive systems. With peripheral neuropathy, the proprioceptive system is impaired; however, you can still improve by increasing the proficiency of the visual and vestibular systems through specific exercises. A vestibular physical therapist or a physical therapist with a board-certified clinical specialty such as a Neurological Care Specialist (NCS) will have the most experience in designing an exercise program for someone with peripheral neuropathy.

RELATED: Ask a PT: Heel Striking & Chronic RLE Pain

I have seen a fair number of people with neurological issues like peripheral neuropathy and their ability to improve depends on several factors such as the extent of their nerve disruption (as I mentioned before), motivation, strength and activity level. In addition, lifestyle habits play a role such as diet and nutrition.

In summary, consistency with an exercise program designed by a rehab professional can help you improve your balance. There is a lot of information to cover and contacting a physical therapist is a great way to find the strategies to help you accomplish your goals. Staying physically active and making healthy lifestyle choices will put you on the path to success and better balance.

Stay active,

Dr. Marc

***

Dr. Marc Robinson is a Physical Therapist in San Diego, CA who provides online physical therapy and virtual consultations for those who need on-demand help with injuries. His company, Evercore offers online injury prevention courses and fitness products to promote a pain-free, active life. They specialize in low back pain and helping their clients achieve health goals beyond what the traditional medical system can offer.

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