Peripheral Neuropathy and Massage Therapy

Peripheral Neuropathy and Massage Therapy

Your peripheral nervous system connects the nerves from your brain and spinal cord, or central nervous system, to the rest of your body including your arms, hands, legs, feet, face, mouth and internal organs. This system delivers signals about physical sensations from the extremities back to your brain. Your peripheral nervous system is also responsible for such primary bodily functions as blood circulation and food digestion.

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that disrupts the normal functioning of the nerves within the peripheral nervous system.  This usually occurs due to damage to the nerves or in some cases destruction of these nerves. The dysfunction happens for many reasons some of which can be illness, infection, hormonal imbalances, certain medications or vitamin deficiency. When there is damage the nerves might send false signals of pain when there is nothing actually causing pain. They might also neglect to signal pain when there is something harming you.


Types of Peripheral Neuropathy

There are three main categories of peripheral neuropathy although there are numerous presentations of the condition. The three main groups of body functions where neuropathy can be found:


Motor nerves are responsible for muscle movement that assists with walking, talking, or using your hands or arms. Neuropathy in this category can cause muscle cramps, twitching, and muscle weakness.


Sensory nerves are responsible for being able to feel hot or cold and experience pain or sensitivity to touch.  Neuropathic issues in this area can cause tingling sensations or prickling (pins and needles), numbness, pain even with light touch, burning or sharp pain as well as loss of balance or coordination.


Autonomic nerves look after the invisible body processes such as   breathing, heart rhythms and digestion. When neuropathy occurs in these areas, the body can experience constipation or diarrhea, bloating or belching. A sufferer can have difficulty with such issues as fainting or dizziness upon standing (low blood pressure), sweating too much or too little, rapid heart rate, problems with sexual function and difficulty with emptying bladder.


What are the causes of peripheral neuropathy?

Although there is not a definitive and complete list of causes of peripheral neuropathy, it has been linked to diabetes; physical injury such as car accidents, falls, or fractures; inactivity, or holding still too long in one position (carpal tunnel syndrome is a good example); alcohol and exposure to toxins including  solvents, lead, mercury; infections and autoimmune diseases that directly attack nerve tissue including Lyme disease, shingles as well as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.


Massage Therapy and Peripheral Neuropathy

Some studies have found neuropathy massage treatment may be helpful in remediating some of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.  Such techniques as aromatherapy, deep tissue massage, Swedish massage as well as deeper pressure trigger point therapy and kneading can provide relief from the debilitating symptoms of the condition.


NOTE: consultation with your doctor is recommended and it is important to add a regimen of self-care following treatments

It is interesting to note that about 7-8% of the population in Australia is estimated to suffer with peripheral neuropathy. When massage therapy is given on a regular basis, it can help alleviate some of the symptoms and discomforts of neuropathy which is good news for sufferers from this difficult condition.






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