A woman is shown on a stationary bike, swimming, and running on a treadmill. One of her legs is red.

Relieving Leg Pain Through Exercise

AHHHHH, my legs hurt!!! I have been experiencing pain in my legs for the past ten years. It started as a dull ache back when I first was diagnosed with hepatitis C. The kind of ache that you would feel if you stood on your feet all day. But after treating with interferon and ribavirin, my ache in my legs turned into a full blown “pain”. The kind of pain that would cause me to tear up, as it hurt so badly... A needle prick feeling in my feet and sensitivity to walking barefoot even on grass. The water pressure from the shower hitting the top of my feet would send me through the roof. The sensation gradually went up my legs to a patch on my thigh that is now totally numb. On my upper thigh, a baseball-sized spot is numb to any sort of touch, poke, or temperature. And if that was not enough, the electrical shocks start at the base of my head and travel straight down to my feet, causing a jerk motion in my legs. Oh my goodness, the pain in that sensation is beyond anything I have ever experienced. It hurts badly.

A diagnosis: Peripheral neuropathy

After going to several doctors and numerous tests, I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a nerve condition that effects nerve endings, particularly in the arms and feet. I was given a low dose of medication to help with the pain when these nerve shock tremors would happen. Yes, it does help. However, it is not a cure. It is a mask to cover the condition, so to speak. I was told I will be living with this the rest of my life.

Finding relief through exercise

Frustrated at my body falling apart in front of me, I started going to a local gym and getting on a treadmill. My walks were very slow... like a pace of 2 miles per hour. It about killed me the first week of doing this. My body hurt so badly when I finished exercise, though I knew I had to figure out something here to help me. I did not want to depend on medication for the rest of my life. I am one to try new stuff and see if I can help myself. I researched nerves and muscles, and everything I read said to get out and move more. I giggled at the fact this was recommended coming from a place of pain and barely able to move.  But after reading more, I decided it was worth a try.

After a month, my endurance was doubled what it was walking into that gym. Slowly, I began to notice I was not taking as much medication for pain as I was before. I am not here to say do this and your pain will go away, I am here to say exercise worked for me. It is worth noting that exercising did not remove all my discomfort and pain, but I am so happy to say it is nowhere as bad as it was prior to getting active. You must get out there and try things for your body that might help you. Get into the pool for low impact activity, walk, get on a stationary bike... Something. But look for ways to help yourself and when you least expect it, your pain is lower than the starting point.

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