Brandt R Gibson, DPM
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Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute

I awoke one morning with numbness and pain to my right arm.  I couldn't lift it without pain and numbness and tingling were extending to my hand.  This reminded me of symptoms commonly described in my office to feet and legs with peripheral neuropathy.  I thought back to the many studies discussing circulation related problems that related to these symptoms.  When a nerve doesn't get the appropriate nutrients, it starts to fail.  Was this the problem I was having?

As I reviewed the symptoms and problems of my arm and hand, I started to lean heavily to a peripheral neuropathy (cause undetermined at this time) and decided I needed to follow the research that has been flourishing in this difficult problem.  One area of research that stood out to me was exercise with neuropathy.  Whether the cause was diabetes or many of the other 100+ causes of neuropathy, exercise was always an effective option in helping treat the problem.  I therefore determined that this would be my next personal "experiment".   Would exercise help my pain and numbness in my arm?

One side note here:  Please understand that initiating an exercise program should be done carefully and should usually involve discussion with your physician.  I was already exercising intermittently, but was returning to the running that I loved as part of this experiment.

As I started running, the body did several things:  1) It increased the blood flow throughout the body (a positive side-effect of exercise) and therefore improved blood flow to the nerves.  2) Exercise has been shown to improve the functioning of mitochondria in the cells (these are the powerplants for cells and have been shown to be functioning poorly in neuropathy). 3) The body becomes more efficient at utilizing nutrients taken into the body.   4) The rest of the body, through increased endorphins from exercise, functions and feels better.    Through these changes in the body, my arm (over time) improved and the numbness subsided. Each time the symptoms start to return, exercise has stopped it and reversed it.

Although this is only one simple test about exercise and peripheral neuropathy, studies around the country confirm this beneficial effects.  I recommend exercise for peripheral neuropathy and would be happy to help in the creation of an exercise routine that could help.  Just so you know, even the simple act of regular exercise walking will help with the peripheral neuropathy associated pain and numbness. 

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