For people who have peripheral neuropathy symptoms associated with familial amyloid polyneuropathy, self-care may become increasingly difficult as nerve pain gradually worsens. As caregivers, we want to help our patients take charge of their well-being. Fitness is an important aspect of well-being and one that presents challenges for neuropathy patients.
Caregivers and patients should know what exercises can be done regularly without causing further pain. However, peripheral neuropathy and exercise needn’t be mutually exclusive. Here is a list of exercises for caregivers who want to help their patients improve their physical fitness.
Choosing an exercise routine
One of my family’s biggest struggles with my mother-in-law is finding exercises to help with the circulation in her feet. At times it seems like a daunting task, as she uses a wheelchair because of circulation issues. Our challenge is to find ways to improve circulation while preventing exacerbation of pain due to increased movement.
On good days, my mother-in-law can handle short walks around the house. While these jaunts are typically a few feet at a time, they help her maintain a minimum degree of movement. More mobile patients can try more challenging exercises to help with physical fitness and circulation. Please note that caregivers and their patients should seek medical advice before beginning any exercise routine.
Aerobic and breathing exercises
Exercises that incorporate movement and breathing may be beneficial for neuropathy patients. The routine can be for 15 to 30 minutes a few times a week. Your loved one doesn’t need to attend formal classes — walks or bike rides help to increase range and strength of movement in muscles and improve pulmonary and cardiac function. For those who are sensitive to touch, swimming has aerobic benefits. Caregivers looking after patients with severe cardiac symptoms should consult a doctor or physical therapist for suitable exercises.
Stretching exercises may be helpful for patients with limited movement due to peripheral neuropathy. Caregivers unfamiliar with stretching exercises for patients with severe pain should consult with the patient’s physician before beginning. Once comfortable with a stretching routine, patients can focus on seated exercises to maintain balance and reduce the risk of injury. For caregivers and patients who are unsure of where to begin, some useful chair stretching exercises with illustrations can be found here.
Exercises to avoid
Weight training presents difficulties for patients with peripheral symptoms. Patients may be unable to determine the risk of lifting heavy weights because of numbness in their hands and arms. When beginning an exercise routine, patients should start with a small amount of pressure on the hands, feet, arms, and legs and build up gradually.
The ultimate goal is to improve circulation and overall well-being. Caregivers can provide crucial support to patients when starting and maintaining an exercise routine.
Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.