• Ice caps to prevent neuropathy

    Asked by mcgheere on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    Ice caps to prevent neuropathy

    It's been a year since I finished chemo and I am left with neuropathy. Reading up on different info I came across an article about the usage of ice caps on hands/feet/head during the actual treatment to prevent hair loss and nerve damage. Apparently this has been standard practice in Europe for the past ten years, and the FDA is now starting to look in to it.
    I would like to suggest to anybody that is about to start chemo or is still going through treatment to ask their doctor if that is something that they can apply.
    Thinking it can only help, right?

    17 Answers from the Community

    17 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      We have had a few women on the site look into it, and I remember several actually doing it, I just can't remember who it was. Good idea I would think.

      Does anyone remember who has done this?

      over 6 years ago
    • TXHills' Avatar

      I think the idea of an ice cap sounds tremendously uncomfortable, since the infusion takes hours. Also, there is a theoretical risk of missing some cancer cells in the areas that are iced, since blood flow is restricted. I can deal with losing my hair, and the neuropathy generally resolves by itself after treatment is stopped. It's not something I would try, but others may have had some success.

      over 6 years ago
    • jdzgirl's Avatar

      I take gabapentin for my neuropathy.

      over 6 years ago
    • azsuper's Avatar

      Hi Mcgheere

      I have heard and read about this also. Seems like a good idea. Don't know if it works or not.

      With neuropathy and some chemo cold is a big issue. It would seem that would be the biggest issue of all?????

      over 6 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar

      Sometimes I think we can take a lesson from Europe with some of the things they do. On one of my email lists for the blind, we're talking about services for the blind and how they differ in the US and UK. I digress. I read about the ice caps before and while going through chemo and hoped there was such a service offered at my cancer center, for I heard it saved several women's hair. Unhappily, my center didn't offer them. I also heard they are expensive and not always covered by insurance. *sigh* HUGS and God bless!

      over 6 years ago
    • reporterme's Avatar

      I iced my fingers and toes during chemo and had no issues with neuropathy and didn't lose my nails either.

      over 6 years ago
    • mcgheere's Avatar

      To jdzgirl: I take gabapentin for the neuropathy as well, but I find it sad that they are now considering my neuropathy 'chronic' and it bothers me to think I will be taking meds for the rest of my life for something that may have been prevented by something as simple as ice.

      To reporterme: That is awesome and I wish more people were aware of this possibility, forget the hair - that will grow back, but I wish I had known about it.

      All the doctors said that the nerve pain should/might go away after treatment.
      As always the major (and sometimes only) concern is to kill the cancer, which I suppose is how it should be, but the permanent damage that is done in the process to other parts of your system is sometimes a high price to pay and every little bit of preventive measure possible should be applied I would think.

      over 6 years ago
    • Genti's Avatar

      Hi. I live in the UK and finished my chemo in February. I was offered an ice cap but decided against it. The cap can cause severe headaches and doesn't guarantee to stop hair loss. It isn't standard practice to use an ice cap in the UK, some centres offer it, some don't. I was also concerned that there may be cancer cells lurking in my head that may not benefit from the chemo if I wore the cap - my Onc says it is unknown if the cap prevents any cancer cells being killed - I wasn't willing to take that risk! I've also spoken to several other ladies who started treatment with the cap and stopped as it was so uncomfortable. One lady used it for all 6 chemo treatments and her hair still fell out! I guess it's nice to be offered the choice though, I'm guessing you don't even get the option in the States?

      over 6 years ago
    • mcgheere's Avatar

      To Genti: Correct, it is not something that is being used/offered here as far as i know.
      What about ice for your hands and feet though? Is that being offered? I am not so worried about the hair but more concerned with the nerve endings. Thanks.

      over 6 years ago
    • Horselady46's Avatar

      I too have neuropathy in my hands and feet and it has been 18 months since I had chemo. I am on gabapentin but am getting off of it as it causes me to be very dizzy. I hate the pain and legs cramps and gabapentin doesn't seem to do anything for me. I have been told that it should go away. I do wish they had told me about ice caps. I would have done it. Sometime I wonder if this is all worth it. Seems they cure the cancer and almost kill the patient.

      over 6 years ago
    • mcgheere's Avatar

      To Horselady46: EXACTLY my point. I have gone off the gabapentin a couple of times to see if I can do without it but I get to a point where I just can't take it anymore so I start back on them. From what I gather it goes away in some people and not in others.
      Thinking about it though, the chemo killed the nerve endings, right? So if they are dead.....
      Just something else to learn to live with, bottom line, we are still here to do that.
      Could be worse. Chin up and keep smiling :)

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar

      Before I had my treatments of Taxotere, I had seen articles about using ice. The ice caps are very expensive so I did not do anything attempt to prevent my hair from falling out. I did however bring small containers each chemo cycle to put ice in to submerge my hands and feet for the entire hour of the administration of Taxotere. The center where I received treatments offered me frozen reusable ice blocks, but I felt I would have better coverage with my hands and feet submerged in ice cubes. I put socks on my feel and plastic bags over them before putting them in the ice and had thin gloves on my hands with plastic gloves over them. (The plastic bags and gloves were so my socks and gloves would not get wet.) I don't know if it was the ice that helped or if I just wasn't going to get neuropathy, but I did not have trouble with it. I am a freelance artist and I wanted to try anything I could so I would not loose feeling in my hands. I also sucked on ice during Taxotere administration so that I would minimize mouth sores. I also drank lots of water.

      over 6 years ago
    • fiddler's Avatar

      I talked to my onco doc about this a year ago and he said he would not recommend it because the ice cap prevents blood from flowing to the tips of the extremities, and cancer cells may hide out there and cause havoc later. He was unsure whether that was true, but I had triple-negative, so we took NO chances!!! So I think it's a personal decision.

      over 6 years ago
    • Genti's Avatar

      I've never heard of using ice for neuropathy before, it's not something they offer in the UK as far as I'm aware. My hands are no different to before he chemo but I do have some numbness in some of my smaller toes still. The numbness is much improved since ending chemo four months ago so I'm hoping it will eventually disappear. My concern with using ice would still be the possibility of some cancer cells remaining.

      over 6 years ago
    • raven's Avatar

      I read about this about 1/2 way through my chemo and iced my hands and toll my chemo laying down with feet elevated. My chemo nurses and Oncologist laughed, but humored me. I think it did help and would do the same again.

      over 6 years ago
    • Diamondm35's Avatar

      I have terrible neuropathy and I'm on gabapentin too. And it does very little for my pain. 5 months out of chemo

      over 6 years ago
    • Roses4ever's Avatar

      I also got neuropathy. If I would have known about the ice treatment I would have tried it. My last chemo was only 4 months ago, but the pain has overwhelmingly been unbearable. I had to go get a second opinion cause my onc was like it will go away and seems to not even care. She did have me try gabapentin but even at the highest dose it did absolutely nothing. My pain is so severe that my wrists feel broken, bones in my fingers feel broken, and I can hardly walk due to leg and foot pain. It's been so debilitating. Finally I went to a new onc who also specializes in pain management. He was awesome! He said mine is a mixture of neuropathy, depression, and no estrogen. He put me on methadone. Yes I know it sounds scary but it's a very low dose. Within 2 days I'm feeling almost like a normal person. It's been a week now and I even exercised for 30 min. today. My hands are still numb and I still have some pain in one wrist but nothing like I was before. I know it sounds pretty extreme but mine was definitely an extreme case. It's nice to have someone actually listen to me and know how to treat it. Thank God!!!!

      over 6 years ago

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