Neuropathy is a fairly common condition that involves problems with nerves, primarily peripheral nerves, like those that run through your arms and legs. Symptoms may include pain, tingling, burning and numbness that over time can result in the loss of balance, mobility, or strength. But the impact of neuropathy varies greatly. Some people with peripheral neuropathy don’t even realize it, while others are debilitated by pain and numbness. Thankfully, massage therapy can help.
What Are the Causes?
In an article published on Massage Today, Rita Woods, LMT, outlines the pathology that results in neuropathy. Distal circulation—that occurring in areas farthest from the central body, such as the feet or hands—is compromised. Blood vessels become blocked, beginning with the small capillaries. When the circulatory system is unable to supply the surrounding tissue and nerves with nutrients and oxygen, nerves malfunction, sending signals to the brain of pain, tingling, burning and numbness.
Neuropathy is sometimes attributable to diabetes and more rarely to vitamin deficiency, poisons in the environment, infections and liver disease. Alcohol abuse is sometimes a factor. But about 30% of neuropathy cases are “idiopathic,” meaning the cause is unknown. That can be frustrating to those who suffer from these symptoms.
Treatment of Neuropathy
Treatment of neuropathy begins with medical diagnosis. A medical history is valuable. A blood test may determine whether diabetes may be the culprit, as well as providing indication of high blood sugar caused by alcohol or other dietary factors.
Massage Can Help Too
Whatever the cause, early diagnosis and treatment is important. Neuropathy is nerve damage, and peripheral nerves have only a limited capacity to regenerate. In addition to changes prescribed by a physician to dietary habits or medication indicated, massage therapy is certainly a beneficial option. One of the chief benefits of massage for many physical and emotional complaints is increased circulation. Symptoms arising from poor blood flow, as is true with peripheral neuropathy, may be addressed by regular massage.
It Takes Time
Nerves heal slowly. Research shows that, depending on the severity of symptoms, some sufferers may initially experience some pain from massage. It’s important to remember that healing is a process. You’re looking for long-term results. Gradually increased pressure over time is an ideal protocol. A premium massage chair at home provides ease and frequency of access and control that is ideal for many who suffer from neuropathy.
“Benefits of Massage For Neurotherapy and Pain Management.” The Foundation For Peripheral Neuropathy, www.foundationforpn.org/living-well/integrative-therapies/massage/.
Woods, Rita. “A Massage Protocol for Peripheral Neuropathy.” Massage Today, 1 Feb. 2012, www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=14537.
“Massage Can Reduce Neuropathy Pain.” Wellness Focus, 12 Sept. 2015, svmassagetherapy.com/blog/2015/09/12/massage-can-reduce-neuropathy-pain/.
“Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy — Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention.” WebMD, WebMD, 11 Feb. 2017, www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-peripheral-neuropathy-treatment.