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Aquatic Therapy Helps You Live With Severe Nerve Damage Conditions

Despite what many people may believe, nerve damage is actually pretty common. In fact, over 20 million individuals in America suffer from the nerve condition known as peripheral neuropathy at some point in their lives. Read on to learn more about this condition and how aquatic physical therapy can help alleviate the painful symptoms.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

This specific condition can be caused by serious damage to the body's peripheral nervous system, which is part of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and sends signals throughout your body. Usually, the damage is caused by traumatic injuries, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, infections, nutritional imbalances or exposure to certain harmful toxins.

As a general rule, this condition will affect the nerves in your toes first. These nerves are considered the longest nerves in the body. The pain that you will feel is a burning or tingling sensation. Peripheral nerve damage can occur in others areas aside from your feet and will typically cause pain, numbness and weakness.

What Are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?

There are a number of symptoms associated with this nerve damage condition, which include:

  • Sharp, electric-like pain
  • Burning pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Lack of coordination
  • Changes in the skin, nails and/or hair

If certain nerves are affected, such as motor and autonomic nerves, other symptoms may include paralysis, muscle weakness, heat intolerance, lightheadedness, digestive problems and more.

What Type of Physical Therapy Is Best for Managing the Symptoms?

For patients who have nerve damage, particularly to the peripheral nervous system, it is important to only partake in low-impact activities. These activities could include running on a treadmill, elliptical training and aquatic therapy. In particular, aquatic therapy allows patients to perform a wide variety of exercises without having to worry about being in significant pain.

When you have peripheral nerve damage, it is usually hard to put weight on your feet, due to the majority of the pain that you are experiencing in them. Aquatic physical therapy actually makes this an easier task since the buoyancy of the water is relieving some of the typical stress that your body is under.

Aquatic therapy will also help you decrease your fall risk, increase flexibility of your feet, enhance your range of motion and allow better stretching of your muscles in your lower extremities.

When to Call a Doctor

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure that damage to your peripheral nervous system hasn't occurred. If it has or you would like to experience the benefits of aquatic therapy, give your local physical therapist a call to learn more about it and schedule a session.