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4 Types of Exercises to Help Patients with Diabetic Neuropathy

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At Family Integrative Medicine, we care for patients with many types of chronic conditions, including painful conditions like diabetic neuropathy. Our compassionate team works hard to develop targeted treatment plans for each individual. It is our honor to share the good news that there is hope for those who suffer from neuropathy pain!

The experienced professionals at our medical clinics in Orlando and Central Florida have helped many patients achieve successful outcomes. From improved daily function to more restful sleep, Family Integrative Medicine can help you find relief from diabetic neuropathy.

What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is defined as damage that occurs in the peripheral nerves of patients with diabetes. Peripheral nerves are located in the arms and legs, and are responsible for providing sensation throughout the body and controlling one’s muscles to move and walk safely.

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:
• Pain
• Swelling
• Weakness
• Numbness and tingling
• Diminished blood circulation
• Loss of balance
• Fatigue or lack of energy
• Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
• Weight gain

When a person develops neuropathy, it means that something is causing damage to the nerves. In the case of diabetic neuropathy, excess blood sugar is the causing factor. Because of this damage, nerves lose the ability to function well. As a result, the individual will have difficulty performing his or her favorite activities as usual.

What May Cause Diabetic Neuropathy?

• Smoking
• High blood pressure
• An advanced stage of diabetes
• Poor control of blood sugar levels
• Heavy alcohol intake
• Obesity

Unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy is a progressive disease, which causes more damage over time if we do nothing about it. For that reason, it is important to be familiar with the warning signs.
• Muscle weakness
• Dry skin on feet or legs
• Neuropathic pain in hands, legs, or feet
• Tingling, pins and needles or burning sensations in feet
• Loss of balance that may present as frequent tripping or foot drop
• Numbness in hands and/or feet – like stocking glove distribution
• Risk of developing ulcers and infections, and consequently, amputations

How Do Acupuncture and Physical Therapy Help Manage Diabetic Neuropathy?

There are many ways that you can manage your diabetic neuropathy, which is one of many conditions treated at Family Integrative Medicine. You should start by modifying your lifestyle. That includes doing physical exercises on a regular basis, adjusting diet, and taking care of your non-healthy habits, among others.

Next consider the help of proven modalities such as acupuncture, physical therapy, or a combination of both – based on your referring physician’s recommendation. At Family Integrative Medicine, we use a team-based approach that combines the expertise of medical professionals from multiple fields, all working on your behalf for the betterment of your health condition. Our doctors will assess you and develop the best integrative treatment plan based on an individual patient’s unique health needs and symptoms.

An acupuncture physician can help you manage diabetic neuropathy using multiple strategies and different modalities with positive long-term results. Doctors use manual acupuncture, electric acupuncture, laser acupuncture, injections, herbal medicines, and supplements, among other treatment options. Research has proven that patients who received weekly acupuncture treatment for 10 weeks found the treatment highly effective to the improvement of their neuropathic symptoms.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) can help diabetic neuropathy by designing an exercise program based on your needs. This will include aerobics, flexibility, strengthening and balance exercises to reduce pain and improve muscle function, in order to improve quality of life. In addition, a physical therapist can use other kinds of modalities to enhance results.

4 Types of Exercises for Diabetic Neuropathy

Here are some exercises that you can do at home safely. But remember, it is always best to be seen first by your physician or a physical therapist to determine the best treatment for you.

#1: Aerobic Exercises for Diabetic Neuropathy

You can do a couple of aerobic exercises to improve your endurance and enhance blood circulation. Walking is the best and easiest aerobic exercise you can do. But also, you don’t need to leave your home to perform aerobic exercises.

Try the Pedal Exerciser. Start with 5 minutes, and then increase until 30 minutes. You can use your hands or feet, whichever is most comfortable to you.

Diabetic Neuropathy Pedal Exerciser Illustration 1 Diabetic Neuropathy Pedal Exerciser Illustration 2

#2: Flexibility Exercises for Diabetic Neuropathy

Next, try a Calf Stretch. Perform 3 times, and hold for 30 seconds each.

Diabetic Neuropathy Calf Stretch Illustration

Another great exercise is a Hamstring Stretch. Perform 3 times, and hold for 30 seconds each.

Diabetic Neuropathy Hamstring Stretch Illustration

#3: Strengthening Exercises for Diabetic Neuropathy

Next, perform a Straight Leg Raise. Perform one set, with 10 repetitions.

Diabetic Neuropathy Straight Leg Raise Illustration

Roll over, and try the Hip Abduction while lying on your side. If a modification is needed, assume a standing position for this exercise. Perform one set of 10 repetition.

Diabetic Neuropathy Hip Abduction Illustration 1 Diabetic Neuropathy Hip Abduction Illustration 2

Give some Ankle Pumps a try. Perform 30 repetitions at any time you want.

Diabetic Neuropathy Ankle Pumps Illustration
Another pain-relieving standing exercise is Hip Flexion. Perform one set of 20 repetitions, standing on one leg at a time. Feel free to hold onto support to help your balance.

Diabetic Neuropathy Hip Flexor Illustration

Next, give Ankle Rocking a try. Be sure to hold onto something for balance and support as needed. Perform 1 set of 10 repetitions.

Diabetic Neuropathy Ankle Rocking Illustration

Another well-known exercise is Squats. Perform one set of 10 repetitions while holding onto the back of a chair or other supportive surface.

Diabetic Neuropathy patient Squats Illustration

#4: Balance Exercises for Diabetic Neuropathy

Practice Marching in Place. You should stand in front of a wall to maintain good balance, and march by lifting one knee at a time. Perform as slowly as you can and focus on mastering the form.

Diabetic Neuropathy Marching in Place Illustration

Next, try a One Leg Standing Balance. Hold your leg up for 10 seconds.

Diabetic Neuropathy One-Leg Standing Illustration

Finally, take some Steps. For best results, start up and then go down one step. Go slowly, and watch for your balance.

Diabetic Neuropathy Patient Demonstrates Steps Exercise
At Family Integrative Medicine, we have a group of doctors ready to provide you with a holistic examination to determine which will be the best treatment for you. If your condition is affecting your quality of life, and you have decided that you want to change it at last, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can change the lives of patients with diabetic neuropathy.

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