Physical Exercise for Peroneal Nerve Dysfunction

Peroneal nerve dysfunction is a form of peripheral neuropathy in which nerve damage occurs within a branch of the sciatic nerve that leads to the leg. This damage can destroy the covering of the affected nerve and lead to degeneration of the nerve cell. People suffering with this condition often experience numbness within the leg as well as a loss of muscle tone, muscle mass and even muscle control. Treating this condition typically involves therapies that maintain mobility of the affected leg.

3D rendered illustration of the sciatic nerve. (Image: Eraxion/iStock/Getty Images)


For some people, physical therapy is an option for peroneal nerve dysfunction. Your physical therapist will work with you to establish a program to best suit your needs, but exercises typically revolve around strength training. Strength training can help sustain muscle mass of the leg, and thereby maintain muscle strength, which should aid in retaining your mobility. You'll work with weights, resistance bands and even your own body weight to strengthen muscles.


Along with strength training, it isn't uncommon to include flexibility exercises into your workout routine. Flexibility exercises revolve around stretches that work the calf, hamstring, knee and other muscles, joints and tendons of the leg and foot. These activities obviously maintain your flexibility, which makes it much easier for you to move and engage in other exercises used to treat the condition. But stretching may also help ease any discomfort you're experiencing as a result of the nerve dysfunction.


As your strength and flexibility improves, your physical therapist will likely suggest incorporating cardiovascular activities in your exercise regimen. Low-impact exercises, such as biking, swimming and water aerobics, are best. High-impact activities can lead to repetitive stress, especially for someone dealing with nerve damage. This can result in serious health complications, so take it easy with cardio. Even just 5 to 10 minutes a day to start can be beneficial, but you'll still need to increase the length of your workouts as your fitness level improves. A good goal is at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.


Physical therapy, however, doesn't always correct the cause of the nerve damage, and you'll likely need to use another form of treatment in conjunction with exercise to fully improve your condition. Corticosteroids can be used to reduce inflammation that is putting pressure on the affected nerve, while surgery can sometimes alleviate areas of compression. Some people even need braces, splints or other orthopedic devices to help them get around. It all depends on the severity of the nerve degeneration and damage. Check with your physician before deciding on a course of treatment.

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