Neuropathy and Hiking: A Patient’s Guide to the Outdoors

Neuropathy and Hiking: A Patient’s Guide to the Outdoors
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Patients actively or recently experiencing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may find previously existing patterns of life and activity to be disrupted by the onset of pain in the peripheral limbs. The prevalence of burning and tingling sensations in the feet may discourage those suffering from familial amyloid polyneuropathy from enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking.

Here on the East Coast, we recently experienced a wave of warm, sunny, and breezy January weather. Not one to take an atypically summerlike winter’s day for granted, my wife and I decided to go hiking at a nearby nature preserve. While hiking, we determined that my mother-in-law would also enjoy the nature preserve and immediately thought of ways to accommodate her during her first visit.

A potential issue preventing nature-loving neuropathy patients from continuing to engage in outdoor activities is limited mobility caused by foot pain. Thankfully, many cities have begun incorporating handicapped accessibility into outdoor spaces and walking trails. For more remote outdoor areas, patients and caregivers must exercise greater care when walking through nature.

For patients who enjoy the outdoors, following are some ways to manage neuropathy and hiking.

Have proper footwear for neuropathy and hiking

Neuropathy patients must be sure to have proper footwear for walking outdoors. Footwear designed for people with peripheral neuropathy symptoms must have significant cushioning and a larger toe box to ensure that the patient’s foot fits comfortably and is not irritated by any protruding materials. Patients who are serious about hiking may want to consider specially made hiking boots for neuropathy

Neuropathy and physical limits

When hiking, patients must be aware of their physical limits. Having a companion or caregiver present when hiking may ensure that patients have the necessary physical support for when venturing outdoors becomes too much. Patients may want to have a caregiver or loved one scout the trails in advance of their visit in order to adequately prepare for the trip. 

Patients must prepare in advance

One of the most important things to consider is space for the patient to rest if physical exertion proves to be too much. When scouting the nature preserve for my mother-in-law, my wife found a fishing area where her mom could sit and relax while enjoying nature. Caregivers and loved ones must also take inventory of the total distance each trail or pathway may cover away from the trailhead or visitor’s center. 

For areas with paved walkways, patients may want to consider a motorized or manual wheelchair. This will enable them to enjoy their surroundings while decreasing the risk of physical overexertion. Ultimately, the key for patients to best manage neuropathy and hiking is through collaboration with their caregivers and adequate preparation in advance.

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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.

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