Does the Power of Touch Apply to Peripheral Neuropathy?


Could the right type of touch from a trained professional play an integral role in helping you reverse your Neuropathy?  This article will explore this topic so you can make a more informed decision about including manual therapies in your arsenal of treatments.

The first thing to consider before manual therapies, is what’s causing the Neuropathy.  In some cases such as a pinched nerve in the low back, wrist, ankle, or plenty of other locations in the body, manual therapies such as Chiropractic or Physical Therapy are probably going to be the best initial line of therapy.  But what about for other causes of Neuropathy besides a pinched nerve (like Diabetes, Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy or a B12 deficiency)?

When it comes to metabolically induced Neuropathy such as Diabetes, the role that manual therapies play is less clear.  There is some research done by Chatchawan et al indicating that Thai Massage helps to improve balance, range of motion and foot sensation in people with Diabetic Neuropathy1.  In my personal experience, I’ve found that manual therapies for people with metabolically induced Neuropathy (ie Diabetes) tend to have short lived benefits.  They can lessen the pain for a short while, but then the pain will most of the time return to its original degree.

To get more relief diet, exercise and nerve stimulation tend to yield the best sustainable improvements.  With that said, manual therapies can serve as an important part of a nerve stimulation program. It can also help to increase the range of motion in the joints which can facilitate better walking biomechanics and better form when exercising.  This is perhaps one of the reasons why Thai Massage was found to be beneficial in people with Neuropathy. Thai Massage incorporates a lot of stretching in addition to the standard pressure-based massage. This is one of the key elements I’ve noticed in which types of manual therapies are going to provide the greatest benefits to people with Neuropathy.  The manual therapies that help to improve range of motion (Chiropractic Adjustments and manual stretching) really seem to play an important role in helping people with Neuropathy. However, just these therapies alone will probably not create profound improvements. These manual therapies should be in conjunction with a customized diet, exercise regimen and a nerve stimulation program.

Chatchawan. Effects of thai foot massage on balance performance in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy: a randomized parallel-controlled trial.  Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2015 Apr 20;21:68-75.

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