Chemotherapy neuropathy is a damage of the nerves other than nerves in brains or the spinal cord (peripheral nerves) that cause severe pain sensations. This disorder can develop after using some medications used for the chemotherapy course.
Treatment of chemotherapy neuropathy
Some of the medications used for pain related to neuropathy from chemo might include:
- Antidepressant medications
- Anticonvulsant medications
- Steroid medications
- Narcotic medications
- Topical medications that numb pain
Other treatments that don’t involve the use of medication can sometimes be effective in reducing the pain caused by chemo-induced neuropathy. Some of the chemotherapy neuropathy treatment methods include:
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Electrical nerve stimulation
- Relaxation therapy or guided imagery
Managing symptoms of chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy
If you have chemotherapy neuropathy there are things you can do to make your life easier and to prevent complications of the condition. Here are some suggestions:
- If your doctor has prescribed pain medications, take them as directed and don’t wait for your pain to become severe. Pain is usually easier to manage if it is controlled before it is intense.
- Avoid exposure to extremely hot or cold temperatures.
- Don’t rush through tasks—take your time to do things and ask for help when you need it.
- Avoid alcohol. It may increase your symptoms.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under good control. High blood glucose levels can cause nerve damage.
- Wear gloves when working outside and when cleaning. Also, be very careful when using sharp objects like razors, knives, and scissors.
- If chemotherapy peripheral neuropathy is affecting your feet and legs, sit down as often as you can.
- Always wear shoes when you are out of bed, and inspect your feet daily for redness, sores, or blisters.
- If your balance or coordination is poor, use hand railings to support yourself. Avoid throw rugs and consider using a walker or cane.
- Keep walkways in your home clear. Keep a nightlight on so you can find your way in the dark.
- Avoid burns from hot water by setting your water heater thermostat no higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If you experience severe numbness in your feet, you should examine your feet regularly for injuries, cuts, and infections that you may not be able to feel.
- When going outside in winter, you should check the air temperature even if you don’t feel the cold. Also, you should wear warm socks and gloves to protect your feet and hands from frostbite.
- If it helps you ease the symptoms of chemotherapy neuropathy, you may apply a pack with ice on your feet and hands. However, it’s important to apply the ice no longer than 10 minutes at a time with at least a 10-minute break between each application.
If you are receiving chemotherapy, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about chemotherapy neuropathy. Tell your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of neuropathy.