Nerve Damage From Neuropathy Puts You At Risk. I’m going to share a strategy for regaining balance and reducing your risk of falling as a result of neuropathy in a moment. First let me share this brief letter I received.
Dear Dr. Labrum
“Because of the neuropathy, I fell and fractured a bone in my foot, which gives me all kinds of sensations in my foot, but I don't feel much discomfort in bed.
My biggest difficulty is balance and I am afraid of falling again. After my next X-ray on my foot, which is Oct 4th, I will have to decide what to do next.” What do you think?
I get these emails on a regular basis and I understand the fear of falling well.
Rachel was lucky she didn’t injure more than a bone in her foot. She’s been taking neuropathy medications, but as I’ve been sharing medications
only treat symptoms.
The risk of a broken hip, leg or other part of your body goes up as neuropathy damage progresses.
Just thinking about the risk of a broken hip was too much for me.
I had read the sobering “hip fracture” statistics for older adults who end up in a nursing rehab facility and never went home again or died within a few years. I just wasn’t willing to break a bone and lose my independence.
So, that’s why I grudgingly used a wheel chair to reduce that risk, but now I don’t have to and you don’t either.
I’d like to share a promising neuropathy intervention to help you restore your balance in a fun and relaxing way.
Nerve Damage from Neuropathy Is A Common Problem
Nerve damage from neuropathy is a common problem and 2 of the worst symptoms are lack of coordination and balance.
The truth: Neuropathy hurts so much that when an electrical jolt of pain hits you, it’s natural to immediately react quickly. Unfortunately, that can mean losing balance and falling when walking. It also means that you try to be as inactive as possible and that doesn't help neuropathy.
The other reason for falling is because damaged nerves are not sending accurate signals to your brain. That makes balance, walking and simply navigating from one part of your home to another like walking through a mine-field.
You won't believe this, but there's research about doing the "Tango" for better balance for neuropathy sufferers! If you had to read this twice, I'm right there with you.
Too Tired To Tango With Neuropathy
Interestingly, researchers at Ohio University did a course to teach people with peripheral neuropathy how to Tango!
I was shocked to see this as it’s not what you would consider a treatment for such issues, but mainstream medicine stays pretty close to the pharmaceutical solutions.
Do you want to know what happened to the 30 folks who learned to Tango?
“We show that after just five weeks of Argentine tango, medial and lateral sway decreased by 56 percent indicating that this is a promising balance intervention for cancer survivors experiencing impaired balance post treatment."
You can read more here:
I personally can’t imagine most of my neuropathy clients doing the tango, but this is just further evidence that “natural solutions” can help keep you safe! While the study was related to cancer patients who developed neuropathy secondary to drug treatment, the interventions hold promise for many causes of neuropathy.
If you’re not into Tango, an even easier “weight-shifting” solution exists.
Weight-Shifting Reduces Fall Risks for Neuropathy Sufferers
The United States Surgeon General started recommending Tai Chi back in the mid 90’s. Specifically saying that people over age 65 could improve balance and stability with this “weight-shifting” and strength training.
The good news for neuropathy sufferers is that Tai Chi is a great stress reducer!
Neuropathy Diminishes Connections Between Muscle and Mind
Since nerve damage from neuropathy disrupts communication, we have to do everything in our power to reverse that.
As the damage continues you may want to stay still and reduce activity, but that creates a negative cycle that reduces circulation, strength, balance and coordination.
According to the US National Library of Medicine “Tai Chi has been recognized as an effective alternative to traditional exercise programs for fall prevention  and to improve plantar sensation . Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, incorporates elements of strength, balance, postural control, and concentration, and it is recognized as one of the most effective interventions for reducing falls in the older adult population [14–16]. A mechanism for improving fall risk through Tai Chi may be through the benefits of improved proprioception, particularly at the ankle joint, and through improved tactile sense[17–19].”
Win The Neuropathy “Balancing Act” In Minutes A Day
While we use EVEN SIMPLER “activity” methods within my Neuropathy Recovery Programs to boost circulation and restore communication from feet to brain, this video by Dr. Robert A. Johnson is an excellent introduction to using Tai Chi. He's done a tremendous job of keeping it simple and powerful.
Here’s the link for you to get started.
Don’t decide it’s not for you until you check it out and see how this ancient art is helping us older adults live healthier and freer lives.
Let me know what you think.
To Your Health and Healing,