Coping With Nerve and Muscle Effects Related to Chemotherapy
- Weakness or numbness in the hands and/or feet
- Feeling colder than normal
- Pain when walking
- Weak, sore, tired, or achy muscles
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty picking up objects and buttoning clothing
- Shaking or trembling
- Walking problems
- Hearing loss
- Stomach pain
What to Do
- If your fingers are numb, be very careful when grasping objects that are sharp, hot, or otherwise dangerous.
- If your sense of balance or muscle strength is affected, avoid falls by moving carefully, using handrails when going up or down stairs, and using bath mats in the bathtub or shower. Use a cane or other walking aid if needed.
- Always wear shoes with rubber soles (if possible).
- When bathing, check the temperature of your bath water with a thermometer. This will help you avoid getting burned by water that is too hot.
- Be careful when cooking. Take steps to avoid cutting or burning yourself.
- Wear gloves when cooking, washing dishes, or gardening.
- Rest if you feel tired.
- Ask your doctor for pain medicine. There are multiple different medications available that can effectively treat the pain related to neuropathy. In certain situations your doctor may refer you to a cancer pain specialist for further treatment.
- Consider acupuncture . Many patients with acute neuropathy find acupuncture helpful. It usually takes 2-5 treatments before beneficial effects can be appreciated. Acupuncture treatment is in some cases covered by medical insurance.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
Kaptchuk TJ. Acupuncture: theory, efficacy, and practice. Ann Intern Med . 2002; 136:374.
National Cancer Institute. Chemotherapy and you: support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf . Updated May 2007. Accessed March 25, 2010.
Peripheral neuropathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 8, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2012.
Shlay JC, Chaloner K, Max MB, et al. Acupuncture and amitriptyline for pain due to HIV-related peripheral neuropathy: a randomized controlled trial. Terry Beirn Community Programs for Clinical Research on AIDS. JAMA . 1998; 280:1590
Visovsky C, Collins M, Abbott L, Aschenbrenner J, Hart C. Putting evidence into practice: evidence-based interventions for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2007 Dec; 11(6):901-13.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: .0/2012 -
- Update Date: 05/14/2012 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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