Researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School observed that patients with idiopathic neuropathy experienced less severe pain symptoms in patients who exercise regularly, according to study results published in the Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System.
Exercise is generally associated with improved outcomes in patients with certain peripheral neuropathies; However, there are limited data on idiopathic peripheral neuropathies. The study researchers tried to analyze the relationship between regular exercise and the severity of polyneuropathy in patients with idiopathic polyneuropathy.
This study used cross-sectional data from the Peripheral Neuropathy Research Registry, which consists of a well-characterized cohort of patients treated with distal, symmetrical polyneuropathies at multiple centers. All patients who met the inclusion criteria (N = 324) in the database were assessed through neurological examination, nerve conduction study assessment, laboratory tests, and their medical history. Since 2016, database patients have been asked to complete a 1-page exercise questionnaire in which the patients stated their frequency, duration and type of exercise during the last 6 months.
Patients with painful (n = 239) and non-painful (n = 85) neuropathy differed significantly according to age (60.6 ± 13.9 vs. 66.7 ± 12.5 years; P = 0.0004), gender ( 58.6% vs. 77.7% men, respectively; P = 0.0016) and diastolic blood pressure (76.4 ± 10.0 versus 73.3 ± 9.3; P = 0.0144).
Patients were stratified according to their exercise activity, with 124 patients not exercising, 67 exercising low activity, 67 exercising moderate activity, and 66 exercising high activity. These groups differed in the levels of self-reported pain (P = 0.019) and painful neuropathy rates after adjusting all covariates (P = 0.045).
Compared to patients who did not exercise, the likelihood of painful neuropathy (odds ratio) was lower in patients with high levels of physical activity [OR]0.40; 95% CI, 0.18-0.86; P <0.05) or to report pain yourself (OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.19-0.81; P <0.05).
Patients with moderate levels of activity did not have a reduced incidence of painful neuropathy compared to non-exercisers (OR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.27-1.3). Patients with low activity had a lower incidence of painful neuropathy compared to inactive patients (OR 0.40; 95% CI 0.19-0.86; P <0.05).
Exercise did not affect self-reported balance (P = 0.47), numbness (P = 0.49), or weakness (P = 0.53).
This study was constrained by the self-reported retrospective design and possible recall bias. In addition, there was a lack of data on the reasons for patients not exercising, the mechanisms by which exercise reduced the likelihood of painful neuropathy, and exercise habits before and after the patient began to experience pain.
The study’s researchers concluded that their results “provide evidence that people with IPN exercise [idiopathic polyneuropathy] has a positive effect on reported pain but does not affect other self-reported actions such as numbness or weakness ”and suggests that“ exercise should be viewed as a treatment option for patients with IPN, especially those with painful neuropathy ”.
Stewart S., Thomas S., Van Doormaal PTC, Höke A. Relationship between movement and pain in patients with idiopathic distal axonal polyneuropathies. J Peripheral nervous system. Published online on October 6, 2020. doi: 10.1111 / jns.12415
This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor