Exercise and Physical Therapy for Postherpetic Neuralgia

How Keeping Active Can Help PHN

Exercise and physical therapy are an important part of your postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) treatment plan because they can help you manage PHN symptoms.

In-depth Articles on Other Postherpetic Neuralgia Treatments

Of course, before starting an exercise and physical therapy plan, have a conversation with your doctor.

In this Article

Physical Therapy for PHN
The 2 main types of physical therapy—passive and active treatments—often play a role in managing PHN symptoms.

With passive treatments, such as applying cold packs to the painful area, the physical therapist does most of the work. But with active treatments, you do the work. An example of an active treatment is an at-home exercise program.

Both active and passive treatments can help reduce pain and other PHN symptoms, and with regular physical therapy, you should eventually be able to increase your daily activities because it helps strengthen muscles.

A physical therapy program is also a great way to learn how to begin a consistent exercise routine, if you need help doing that.

To get started, work with a physical therapist to develop a treatment plan that fits your needs. Your treatment plan will most likely include both passive and active treatments, starting with passive treatments. Once you're ready, your physical therapist will most likely teach you some active treatments, such as strengthening exercises, so you can do them at home.

Exercise When You Have PHN
Simple, gentle exercise can be just what your doctor orders when it comes to managing pain and other PHN symptoms.

Exercise offers a host of benefits: Besides giving you more energy and strengthening your muscles, it can reduce pain, making day-to-day activities easier to do.

Another added exercise bonus is that it can send stress levels plummeting, which can make your pain more manageable, too.

But if you haven't exercised for a very long time—or if you've never exercised at all—where do you start? A physical therapist who can customize a workout routine for you is a great place to start, but you can also work with a personal trainer who has experience working with patients who deal with painful conditions, such as PHN.

Your physical therapist or personal trainer will most likely recommend you work in the 3 key types of exercise—aerobic, strengthening, and flexibility exercises—into your workout plan. But the focus is on low-impact exercise, at least initially. For example, you can go for a walk, or do yoga or tai chi to help you control PHN symptoms.

Keep in mind that some minor soreness is normal, especially after the first couple of days of starting any exercise plan. However, if your pain intensifies or you develop new symptoms, call your doctor right away.

As part of an overall treatment plan for postherpetic neuralgia, exercise and physical therapy are excellent ways to help you deal with PHN on a day-to-day basis.

Updated on: 11/23/11