4 Tips for Battling Neuropathy

by Brian English

It’s an unfortunate reality that chemotherapy and other drugs that fight cancer can often damage peripheral nerves. As a result, chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatment. This syndrome can result in feelings of numbness, burning sensation, pain, and tingling in the extremities, as well balance issues, and more.

4 Tips For Battling Neuropathy

On top of the other body blows that come with chemotherapy treatment, these after effects can just seem like insult to injury. So the search for treatments and medication that can relieve neuropathy is constant.

As you might imagine, the WhatNext community has a great deal of experience wrestling with the issues of CIPN. And there’s good news: there are many treatments for neuropathy, but each has its own pros and cons. What follows is a very top-line review of the most common treatments for neuropathy.

MEDICATIONS

 Anti Nausea Medications

Benefits
The best part of the drug therapies that fight neuropathy is that they tend to be effective. Lyrica is mostly an anti-seizure medication that prevents nerves from communicating from one another. Cymbalta is an antidepressant that lowers one’s awareness of pain. The steroids Prednisone and Elavil are also used for neuropathy.
Downsides
Unfortunately, medications need to be taken constantly to be effective; once you stop taking the dosages, the neuropathy symptoms return.

Since the first place most patients go with their neuropathy complaints is their doctors. As a result, these medications can be the most common form of treatment. However, while some of these drugs may be effective, each comes with its own set of additional side effects.

Are you noticing a theme here? You’re being treated for cancer, and the treatment causes one side effect. Then you look to medications to treat the side effect of the first treatment, and the new treatment comes with its own list of side effects that you must deal with. It can be disheartening, but that doesn’t mean there is no path to relief.

WhatNexter Carol1286’s neuropathy resulted from chemo for her breast cancer treatment. “I took Lyrica for three years for neuropathy,” she writes. “It did work. I just tapered off it a few months ago and the neuropathy did not come back.” Lyrica generally prescribed to treat Fibromyalgia, another nerve issue.

Many in the WhatNext community have found CIPN relief through the use of Gabepentin (marketed under the brand name of Nuerotonin). BuckeyeShelby writes that she took Gabepentin to relieve numbness in her feet. “If I miss a dose, it goes from numbness to pain.”

Leen826 also was given Gabepentin. “It helped tremendously,” she writes. “It did make me a little sleepy at first, but I got used to it.”

ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture Needles Inserted In A Foot

Over the years, the Chinese treatment of acupuncture has been used to treat every ailment imaginable. It has been named as a cure for depression, sleeplessness, smoking, and more.

Benefits
Some swear by acupuncture; some believe it’s ineffective voodoo. It has been known be effective for neuropathy, and is also said to improve circulation (also a boon to neuropathy sufferers).

Downsides
For some, acupuncture simply does not work.
WhatNexter lilymadeline said that acupuncture wasn’t effective for her at all, but wrote that many members of her group “were saying how acupuncture had helped them with their neuropathy.”

HERBS

Herbs

As with many ailments, some patients prefer natural cures over pharmaceuticals. Often common herbs like cayenne pepper , St. John’s Wort , and Ginko Biloba are recommended to treat neuropathy.

Benefits
Like drugs, herbs can be effective at masking or temporarily alleviating neuropathy symptoms as long as you continue to take them.

Downsides
Herbs are not side-effect free. What’s more, they can interact with the medications that you’ve been prescribed, so you should always consult your doctor before adding any herbs to your daily regimen. While herbs are natural substances, they often contain few beneficial properties. They are not vitamins, minerals, amino acids, key fatty acids, and more.

paintmare from the WhatNext forums was prescribed Gabepentin, but opted instead for frankincense and myrrh (yes, the same stuff from the Bible) in a carrier oil. “I bought it premixed on Amazon,” she writes. “I really worked for me. Smelled good, too.” There are many over-the-count frankinence and myrrh oils sold specifically to counter neuropathy.

B VITAMINS

Vitamin B12 735 350

B vitamins – specifically vitamins B1 and B12 – are crucial to nerve health.

Benefits
These vitamins work together to build nerves. These vitamins all work in concert with one another to do their job. B9 (folic acid) is needed to activate B12 ; vitamin B2 is required for B1 to be absorbed.

Downsides
High doses of some B vitamins (B6, for example) can be toxic, so consult your physician.

“I took a vitamin B6 supplement during my Taxol treatment, which seemed” writes lujos from the WhatNext forums.

Though Kalindria an ovarian cancer patient, said that B vitamins “haven’t helped.”

What methods have you used to help combat CIPN? Log on to the WhatNext forums and share your tips.

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