Can physical therapy help manage neuropathy in my feet?

Therapeutic Associates
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I have diabetic neuropathy (P.N.) in my feet. It has been progressing the last couple of years. I’m now taking 1600 mg. daily of Gabapentin. I guess my question is what are my feet supposed to feel like? Right now, I feel like I’m walking barefoot on semi hard sponge. I have drop foot in both, but the left is worse. I’m looking for someone who could share some thoughts. Thank you so much for your time.

Disclaimer: Please note, this reply is for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified health provider with a medical condition.

Things to Know

  • With diabetic neuropathy, sensation and motor function in the feet can be impaired to varying degrees.
  • Monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly and making dietary adjustments is essential for diabetes management.
  • A physical therapist can create a personalized exercise program to address the strength of the muscles in your feet and lower limbs, as well as your overall sensation.

With neuropathy of the feet, the symptoms you’re experiencing, such as feeling like you’re walking on a semi-hard sponge and having drop foot, are quite common. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which the nerves in your feet and legs are damaged, usually due to long-term uncontrolled diabetes. As a result, sensation and motor function in the feet can be impaired to varying degrees.

The progression of diabetic neuropathy can vary from person to person. It can range from mild to severe, and some individuals may experience gradual worsening of symptoms over time. To better manage your condition and potentially slow its progression, it’s essential to focus on diabetes management. Monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly and making dietary adjustments are crucial steps. Websites like Diabetes.org can provide valuable resources and guidance on understanding diabetes and managing glucose levels effectively.

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good traction on shoes along with reflective running tights for cold-weather workout

Moreover, it’s highly advisable to consult with an endocrinologist for diabetes management. They can help you optimize your treatment plan and ensure that your glucose levels are well-controlled. 

Additionally, you should consider seeing a podiatrist who specializes in foot care for individuals with diabetes. They can evaluate the condition of your feet, provide supportive bracing or orthotic devices, and offer recommendations for foot care and footwear.

A registered dietitian can also be a valuable resource in managing your diabetes through dietary modifications and nutritional guidance. They can help you make informed choices about your diet to better control your blood sugar levels.

In addition to the above specialists, I strongly recommend seeking the assistance of a physical therapist.

A physical therapist can play a vital role in managing diabetic neuropathy. They can assess the strength of the muscles in your feet and lower limbs, as well as your overall sensation. Based on their assessment, they can create a personalized exercise program to improve muscle strength, balance, and coordination. These exercises are not only essential for managing your neuropathy symptoms but can also be instrumental in managing glucose levels by enhancing insulin sensitivity.

Balance can be a significant concern for individuals with neuropathy, and physical therapists are experts in addressing balance issues. They can guide you through exercises and techniques to improve your balance and reduce the risk of falls and related injuries. Moreover, physical therapists can provide education on proper foot care, footwear and daily practices to minimize the risk of complications associated with diabetic neuropathy.

a senior man uses resistance bands to exercise his feet for strength and flexibility
working on balance utilizing an exercise ball

Overall, integrating physical therapy into your care plan can be a crucial step in managing the progression of diabetic neuropathy. By working with a team of healthcare professionals, including an endocrinologist, podiatrist, dietitian, and physical therapist, you can improve your overall well-being, control your diabetes, and enhance your quality of life.

Physical Therapy for Neuropathy

As physical therapists, we know the importance of movement for overall health and well-being. Our passion is to help every patient reach their goals and live an active, pain-free life. 

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