Category Archives: exercise

Exercise may reduce chronic nerve pain


Regular low impact exercise is a common recommendation by physicians for easing chronic pain, but so far research has been mixed about whether this is the case for neuropathic pain.  Men’s Health wrote a short piece on this today.

An experimental study published in the June issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, the official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS), suggests that exercise helps to alleviate pain related to nerve damage.

Neuropathic pain is often very difficult to treat—manifested as nerve damage associated with trauma, diabetic distal neuropathy, phantom limb pain, and many other conditions—but exercise could potentially be an effective nondrug option.

Scientists examined the effects of exercise on neuropathic pain induced by sciatic nerve injury in rats.  The group of injured rats that performed progressive exercise such as swimming or treadmill running exhibited fewer observable pain behaviors over the course of a few weeks.  These rats also had less inflammation-promoting substances called cytokines in their sciatic nerve tissue.

The exercising rats also had an increased expression of a protein called heat shock protein-27, which may have contributed to reductions in cytokine expression.

Typically the burning pain and numbness associated with nerve damage doesn’t respond to conventional pain meds. Antidepressant and antiepileptic drugs are often helpful but have significant side effects. Exercise could prove to be an effective nondrug treatment.

I have begun swimming per recommendation of my pain doctor, but it is difficult to tell if I’m having less pain.  Perhaps it’s too early to tell.  Has anyone had any good results from exercise?