Exercise helps to alleviate pain related to nerve damage by reducing levels of cytokines which are inflammation promoting. Inflammation is known to contribute to the development of neuropathic pain and therefore reducing this process can provide relief.
Neuropathic pain is a common and difficult to treat pain caused by nerve constriction which is seen in patients with diabetes, trauma injuries, sciatica and various other conditions. Research published in Anaesthesia and Analgesia supports exercise as a non-drug treatment for neuropathic pain.
Progressive exercise in gentle activities such as swimming and brisk walking/jogging carried out for a few weeks was tested and found to help reduce abnormal pain responses by 30-50%.
Yu-Wen Chen, Yung-Tsung Li, Yu Chung Chen, Zong-Ying Li, Ching-Hsia Hung, Exercise Training Attenuates Neuropathic Pain and Cytokine Expression after Chronic Constriction Injury of Sciatic Nerve, Anaesthesia and Analgesia, 2012, 114(6):1330.