Neuropathy has a range of symptoms that range from just irritating to extremely painful. Nothing the medical system offers to treat these symptoms seems to help.
A new study in JAMA Network Open is therefore very much welcomed as it demonstrates how specific types of exercises can drastically improve neuropathy.
Best of all, these exercises are very simple and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is present in 70% of cancer patients, causing symptoms such as numbness in feet or pain and tingling sensations in extremities.
This study sought to assess the effect of aerobic exercise on neuropathy in women treated for ovarian cancer.
The researchers analyzed information collected by the Women’s Activity and Lifestyle Study in Connecticut.
A total of 134 participants were included, all female, with an average age of 57.5 years and an average time since diagnosis of 1.7 years.
The researchers divided them into two groups:
1. An exercise group of 69 participants who did home-based moderate-intensity aerobic exercise facilitated by weekly telephone counseling from a certified cancer exercise trainer.
2. A control group of 65 participants who received weekly health education telephone calls from a staff member.
The severity of their neuropathy was self-measured at the beginning and after six months using a specialized scale, with a score range of zero to 44.
At the beginning of the study, the neuropathy scores were fairly similar between the two groups: 8.1 in the exercise group and 8.8 in the control group.
However, the six-month results revealed significant differences.
1. The exercise group reported a reduction of 1.3 points in neuropathy scores.
2. The control group reported an increase of 0.4 points.
3. There was a 1.6-point difference between the two groups, with the exercise group improving and the control group declining.
4. When only participants who experienced neuropathy symptoms at the beginning of the study were considered in the analysis, an improvement of two points in the neuropathy score was observed.
5. The most-improved neuropathy symptoms were foot discomfort, joint pain, muscle cramps, and an overall feeling of weakness.
A 6-month aerobic exercise intervention significantly reduced neuropathy symptoms among ovarian cancer patients. The scientists recommend that such patients be referred to exercise programs as a standard part of their care.
If you have diabetes-induced neuropathy, which is the more common type, you can try this solution too. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, step aerobics, dancing, and anything else that significantly raises your heart rate and breathing.