What is Nerve Pain?
"A year from now you will wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb
Nerve pain isnít easy to treat and itís even harder to live with. In some cases, neuropathic pain responds well to treatment and resolves over time, but this doesnít happen often. Usually, the condition is marked by progressive deterioration and the damage that causes nerve pain is often irreversible.
Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage and is generally associated with conditions like diabetes or as a side effect from certain drugs or chemotherapy. In some cases, it may also be the result of an injury. Under such circumstances, the nerves that have sustained damage tend to malfunction, sending pain signals to the brain, even though there is no external or internal stimuli causing any pain. Obviously, the feeling of pain is all too real to the affected individual.
The damage also causes some amount of loss of sensation and feelings of tingling and burning. Although there is still a lot of speculation and debate over the precise causes of such nerve damage, there is little disagreement about the importance of exercises for nerve pain.
How to Relieve Nerve Pain with Exercise
When you suffer from any kind of injury or pain, your first instinct is to rest and not use the affected muscle or limb. Staying sedentary, however, is the worst thing you can do as it will greatly exacerbate the condition. If the muscle or limb is not exercised, it can lead to poor circulation, muscle deterioration and a reduction in range of motion.
Exercise may seem unthinkable but it can actually provide nerve pain relief by triggering the release of endorphins. It also helps because of the improved blood flow and circulation to the extremities. Experts believe that engaging in regular exercise causes an expansion of blood vessels in the feet that can help resolve many of the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
While it is important that you stay active, try not to over exert or indulge in strenuous activities. Once youíve decided on a fitness plan, discuss the routine with your physician.
Here are some tips to help you exercise with nerve pain:
Check with your Physician: Before you get started on any new fitness regime, make it a point to check with your doctor, who will give you the best suggestions and any special care instructions, if need be. Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is a very common symptom in diabetes and in such cases; you need to carefully monitor glucose levels before and after exercise, among other precautions.
Take it Easy: Donít try to take on too much at the outset. For anyone who has been sedentary and has not actively exercised in quite a while, the idea of a rigid exercise routine can appear intimidating. If you try to push yourself too early, you will get bogged down and may even suffer muscle fatigue and injuries. Start with some light physical activity for at least 15 minutes a day and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise over a long period of time.
Stretching Exercises: Before you begin any exercise routine, make sure to give yourself enough to time to warm up and prepare for the activity. A warm up routine typically includes plenty of stretching exercises that help to prep the muscles for any activity. This helps improve flexibility and reduces the risk of muscle damage. Musculoskeletal flexibility is a big concern for anyone who has been sedentary, as there is a reduction in connective tissue compliance and elasticity, which makes individuals more susceptible to muscle injuries during workouts. In such situations, recuperation and recovery is correspondingly slow. Static and cyclic stretching techniques therefore work best, but stretching exercises need to be maintained throughout.
Low Impact Exercises: When it comes to neuropathic pain or any kind of chronic nerve pain, itís always best to work low impact exercises. Such activities will help to maintain flexibility and build muscle but will not subject your body to any excessive stress. Low impact exercise routines can include time for activities like yoga, swimming, brisk walking or Pilates. Unless approved by your physician, avoid high impact exercises, as they may actually exacerbate some of the symptoms of nerve pain, especially back pain or sciatic nerve pain. Low impact exercises introduce your muscles to gentle and controlled levels of stress and pressure thereby strengthening them, preventing injury and prepping them for higher intensity activities.
Exercises for Balance: In most conditions that involve nerve pain, there is some amount of nerve damage that also affects balance. This is not only a problem in itself but it also increases the risk of injury. Balance can be improved however with simple exercises such as simply getting in and out of a chair repeatedly. The kind of activity and task can vary depending on the extent to which your equilibrium has been affected. Improving your balance will widen your exercise options.
Enjoy your Exercise: Exercise should never be a chore that you dread and have to endure. It should be something that you look forward to and enjoy. This is easier said than done, but that doesnít make it any less important or less true. To do this, you should begin by focusing on physical activities that you enjoy. Go for nature walks and bicycling with your spouse or friends and try to go swimming regularly. Depending on your fitness levels and the extent of nerve pain, you can even consider playing sports like tennis, squash or golf as you get better.
Isometric Exercises: Isometric nerve pain exercises and stretches focus on muscle contractions and ligament stretching without requiring any joint movement. This can strengthen muscles and improve flexibility and mobility. At the same time, these exercises donít put much pressure on the spine, making them perfect for anyone who suffers from spinal injuries or problems like sciatica nerve pain.
- Dobson, John L., Jim McMillan, and Li Li. ďBenefits of Exercise Intervention in Reducing Neuropathic Pain.Ē Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 8 (2014): 102. PMC. Web. 23 June 2015.
- International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS). "How Does Exercise Affect Nerve Pain?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2012.
Latest Publications and Research on Exercising Tips For Nerve Pain Relief
- Role of low-level laser therapy in post-herpetic neuralgia: a pilot study. - Published by PubMed
- Retroperitoneal Approach for Ilioinguinal, Iliohypogastric, and Genitofemoral Neurectomies in the Treatment of Refractory Groin Pain After Inguinal Hernia Repair. - Published by PubMed
- Post-operative analgesia techniques after total knee arthroplasty: A narrative review. - Published by PubMed
- Review of adjuvants to local anesthetics in peripheral nerve blocks: Current and future trends. - Published by PubMed
- Nerve Blocks Prior to Microfocused Ultrasound Treatment are Safe and Reduce Patient Discomfort. - Published by PubMed