How Can Myeloma Patients Achieve Better Balance?

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Melanie House, a physical therapist from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, shares simple steps and at-home strategies for myeloma patients experiencing neuropathy to achieve better balance.

The Living Well With Myeloma series is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene, Takeda, Amgen and AbbVie for their support.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Here's a question we got in from Donald.  He says, my neuropathy limits my balance.  Is there anything I can do to help with balance, Melanie?

Melanie House:

Yes.  Actually—so I didn't mention this earlier, but that's one of the things that I assess my patients for is their high-level balance, because a lot of people don't even realize they have a little bit of neuropathy.  They may not have annoying enough symptoms, because the main symptom people report with neuropathy is tingling and numbness in their feet. And it can be painful.  It can be like pins and needles.  So the thing they don't realize is that they actually usually have loss of strength in their calf muscles as well.  And so when you look at balance you really can train a person. 

What we do is usually single-limb balance training, and you would definitely want a spotter, somebody who is watching you closely.  But what's really amazing about this exercise is you only have to do it a couple of minutes a day, but you will be able to tell if you're getting better each day, because you're merely having to count how many seconds can I balance on one leg? 

And why one leg?  Well, you think about walking.  Walking is essentially single-limb balance over and over.  We take that risk of standing on one leg and tossing the other one out in front of us, and in that moment we're just on one leg.  So when you can practice balancing just on the one leg it makes that leg have to work harder and get its reactions faster and make those corrective contractions between the muscles to keep your ankles stable, keep your hips stable. 

And you learn very quickly in doing this, and that is because our nervous system is essentially more plastic than we realize.  Our brain and our muscles, they interact, and they can improve their reaction time with practice. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on November 20, 2017