By Christy Baker, PT, Regional Manager
ApexNetwork Physical Therapy – Effingham, IL clinic
Do you have patients who suffer from pain in their hands and or feet? Patients who experience numbness and tingling in their hands and/or feet? These patients could be suffering from a condition known as peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where there is abnormal feeling in the hands and/or feet. Generally there is numbness or tingling or pain. These symptoms usually develop slowly and are irritable and worsen over time. The damage to the peripheral nerves causes weakness. Symptoms depend on the type of nerves affected since every nerve in the peripheral system has a specific function. It is said that over 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes is a major contributor to peripheral neuropathy. Between 60-70% of those with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy. Another major contributor is chemotherapeutic drugs. About 30-40% of cancer patients are affected by peripheral neuropathy, while 33% of HIV/AIDS patients suffer.
Treatment is generally prescription medications that only reduce the symptoms instead of treating the problem. Research shows that strengthening exercises for peripheral neuropathy moderately improve muscle strength. Exercises when done as directed and on a consistent basis may decrease pain. Research has also found that near infrared light, in conjunction with PT protocol, provides excellent results for patients with peripheral neuropathy. Near infrared light is a type of electromagnetic radiation. It is non invasive and pain free. Near infrared penetrates the skin and blood vessels thus stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow by dilating the vessels. Thus, patients experience decreased pain as well as decreased localized swelling and inflammation. With near infrared treatment, foot sensitivity has been shown to improve by 72%, balance by more than 63%, while tinetti scores increased by 50% or more. Pain is reduced by 37-54% with near infrared light. How long does it take for near infrared therapy light to work? Many people may experience immediate relief, while others may take several weeks.
If you or someone you may know is experiencing pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, please contact Apex Network Physical Therapy for your free screening to determine if physical therapy in conjunction with near infrared therapy can help you.