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  • Writer's pictureDr. Maria Cayelli, MD

Neuropathic pain - by Dr Maria Cayelli, MD

hands of a cancer survivor with neuropathic pain

What is neuropathic pain?

Nerves help you to feel and move and these bundles of fibers can be affected by radiation or chemotherapy treatments. During and after cancer treatment, you may have neuropathy which means you feel strange sensations such as numbness, tingling, or pain in various parts of your body.

Other symptoms may include balance issues, trouble using your fingers, and sensitivity to heat/cold/pain. This may cause you to have problems with falls, walking, and dressing yourself. For some folks, this resolves once therapy is done or shortly after but for others it may take longer or be a more lifelong side effect.

How to deal with neuropathic pain?

If you think you have neuropathy, it’s important to bring it to you doctor’s attention so you can try solutions to relieve it. Your doctor may decrease the chemotherapy agent causing the issue or change it to give your nerves time to recover. You may also have labs done to check for other causes such as B12 deficiency or diabetes.

There are medications like duloxetine (Cymbalta) that may ease your symptoms. Exercise programs with physical or occupational therapists in addition to acupuncture, yoga, mindfulness meditation and massage can help your neuropathic symptoms.

Living with neuropathic pain

Living with neuropathic pain is difficult and is not curable but it’s important to do all you can to manage the potential problems. Doing the following may help lessen the impact on your life:

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory, balanced diet

  • Minimize alcohol intake

  • Get fresh air

  • Prevent falls

  • Protect your hands and feet.


Dr. Cayelli provides video consultations on The After Cancer


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