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Peripheral Neuropathy Balance

Years ago, I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy which has slowly moved up from my feet to part of my legs. There would appear to be no solution or follow up but it is effecting my balance. Any suggestions?

19 August 2019

Thank you for your question.

From your initial question, it is unclear what caused your initial neuropathy to be diagnosed, therefore you may find the response generic in content.

As we're sure you are aware, peripheral neuropathy usually develops within the extremities (arms, hands & feet), when damage has occurred. This can be due to an injury, an inherited disorder, systemic illness or an infection. Symptoms will depend on which nerves are affected.

  • Pain associated with this diagnosis usually requires other types of medication rather than paracetamol & ibuprofen. If you're experiencing pain as a result of your peripheral neuropathy and haven't already discussed this with your GP, it would be would be a good idea to arrange an appointment to talk through appropriate options to help you manage your symptoms.

The balance issues you describe are usually due to lack of sensation, muscle weakness, or both.

  • If you haven’t already had physiotherapy to help improve muscle strength, your GP could refer you. Alternatively, if you have healthcare cover with AXA Health, you may be able to get the appropriate help, without the need for a referral through our Working Body service.

  • The physiotherapist may suggest the use of splints or other supportive appliances to help aid mobility.

  • They may also suggest walking aids which can help you feel more confident when you're on the move.

  • Complimentary therapies may also improve symptoms, although evidence of this is not always clear, and while some individuals may find relief from these treatments, others may not. Examples of such therapies include accupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, yoga, chiropractic care and meditation.

  • If you drink alcohol or smoke, it's worth trying to cut back or stop completely if possible, as both may aggravate nerve pain and usage over long periods can increase damage.

  • Participate in regular moderate exercise. You can find lots of inspiration and tips to help get you moving more and stay motivated in our exercise and fitness hub.

  • If you drive, you must inform the DVLA that you have peripheral neuropathy.

Tips to improve safety at home

Due to reduced sensation in the areas affected, it may be an idea to look at introducing safety measures around the home to reduce further injury or accidents. Suggestions include:

  • Always wearing shoes in the home
  • Using bathmats to prevent slipping
  • Ensuring there are adequate handrails, especially in the bathroom
  • Always checking the temperature of the bath or shower with your elbow (not your foot)
  • Keeping floors clear to prevent tripping
  • Making sure you change position regularly, at least 2-3 times per hour, especially if you have a job which causes you to sit for long periods.

Next steps

Before you make any changes to your routine - or your home - it's important to always speak to your GP for advice, to make sure they won't interfere with your current symptom management.

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Exercises to improve balance and prevent falls - AXA Health

Answered by the Health at Hand team.

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