• Why are my hands and feet so numb?

    Asked by Juliana on Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    Why are my hands and feet so numb?

    I just completed chemo on Feb. 6. I rang the bell, and was so happy to be finished. It's been 2 weeks and my hands and feet are feeling worse. NO feelings in my fingertips and it's hard to grip anything. As for my feet, I can't feel them. It's starting to become hard to walk. Anyone have any insight or advice? Thanks.

    22 Answers from the Community

    22 answers
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar
      ticklingcancer

      My dear, you have CIPN (Chemo Induced Peripheral Neuropathy. The bottoms of both my feet are numb. I finished chemo in February 2012 and still have this problem. It's getting better. A good medication to take if becomes painful (mine does) is gabapentin. It's a miracle drug. You can also try alpha lipoic acid. Lost of foks on here have had success with it. I was not one of them. I would duscuss the gabapentin with your Oncologist.

      over 4 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar
      BuckeyeShelby

      Completely agree w/TC. My neuropathy started shortly after I began chemo. FInished up in Jan, and I think it's worse now than when I was in active treatment. I'm taking neurotin (same as gabapentin). I missed a couple days as I ran out, and I could TELL. It is working. Good luck.

      over 4 years ago
    • Miriam's Avatar
      Miriam

      What you are experiencing is not uncommon. I am seven months out from the end of chemo and I still have some numbness in my feet and fingers. It is much better than it was at first. My Oncologist told me that it should go away eventually but sometimes it remains. I hope you continue to do well and the numbness starts subsiding.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac

      I would ask you oncologist for a referral to a neurologist and/or physical therapist. I completed chemo in March, 2012 and still have peripheral neuropathy. It's hard to say whether it has improved some or if I have just leaned to cope with it better. A neurologist can prescribe treatments that may help and a physical therapist can train you in massage and physical activity that will lessen the numbness and improve balance.

      over 4 years ago
    • Juliana's Avatar
      Juliana

      Pila Miya! (Thank you)
      I appreciate the responses. I'm a little nervous now, thinking it may not go away. But, I am hoping it will get better.

      over 4 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar
      ticklingcancer

      Juliana, I remember one of my follow up appointments. I was sitting in the waiting room for a scan and the Pharmacist came out to get something. He and I became pretty good friends through treatment. He asked me how I was doing. I told him great but I have neuropathy pretty bad. His response..."well, don't go thinking you're special, we give that to everybody". It takes time to heal but in most cases it does. There are exceptions to this but my Oncologist thinks I will completely recover. In the meantime, you have to treat the symptoms. Gabapentin is a good place to start. Low dose is 100 mg, high dose is 3600 mg. As my Dr put it, "you have to play with it to find the dose that works". For me it's 900 mg every morning. My feet don't bother me at all. A year later I have regained feeling to half of each foot.

      over 4 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar
      IKickedIt

      Oxaliplatin is the gift that keeps on giving! According to my oncologist, unfortunately, the neuropathy will worsen for a few weeks - a couple of months before it SLOWLY starts to resolve. You will need to be very patient, it's a long recovery period. Be extra cautious because you're balance may be thrown off and with numb fingers, you could easily cut or burn yourself, or drop something. Have family members help...my kids or husband would lift any pans/pots/casseroles. My husband had to write all the checks because I simply couldn't hold a pen. I still have to be careful with shoes because I can't feel my feet and I don't want to buy shoes that don't fit properly and cause blisters. It has been very, very frustrating.

      It ain't over when it's over and that has been very hard for me to accept. Just keep a positive attitude that you are a survivor. You have overcome the biggest hurdle. Chemo is nasty and not only poisons the cancer, but also damages other things like muscles and nerves. Now it will just take time and a lot of patience. But you have kicked the beast! I've learned to adapt, but get down on occasion. I just keep reminding myself that it was all such a small price to pay. Mine has gotten better over the past year and a half. Still not resolved but much improved.

      over 4 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar
      alivenwell

      Personally if I kept my hands warm, the neuropathy was minimal. It was definitely more aggressive when I'd reach into the refridgerator or not wear gloves.
      There photography gloves one can buy that are made of white cotton which help keep hands warm.

      over 4 years ago
    • LauraJo's Avatar
      LauraJo

      Yep, you have neuropathy. It is not uncommon for it to take several months to pop up....mine started almost 3 months after my last treatment, and I too thought I was out of the woods. I am 19 months from my last chemo; it took about a year for my hands to recover completely, and my feet are still tingly, and cold sensitive, but at least I can keep shoes on my feet now. I couldn't wear sandals or slip-ons for the longest time cause I would be walking along, and the shoe would fall off & I didn't realize. My oncologist recommended Super B complex vitamins, and that may or may not have helped, but I never was so bad I had to take neurontin. The worst was trying to use the computer; it was like typing on glass. Check with your doc to see what he recommends. After what we have gone through, why suffer more?

      over 4 years ago
    • GypsyJule's Avatar
      GypsyJule

      I'm so glad you asked this, because the responses were great. I completed chemo on Jan 3, 2013, and feel like my neuropathy is worse now than it was earlier. Thanks to everyone for the great advice..

      over 4 years ago
    • Jodi's Avatar
      Jodi

      I finished treatment in March 2012 and i still have a little neuropathy. I take gabapentin and it really does work!!!

      over 4 years ago
    • myb's Avatar
      myb

      I'm with you! I started tingling in hands and feet 1 week after chemo and numbness started 1 month after chemo. I was told the tingling would go away in a couple of months, the numbness likely permanent but Everybody is Different. Well more then 5.5 months after chemo and tingling still going along with numbness. I tried the Gabapentin 300mg dose at bedtime and helped to get me to sleep but started having me tired during the day so stopped after talking with my Onc. At my 3 month checkup, I was so exhausted from not sleeping, we discussed trying the 100mg dose at bedtime. It didn't help with getting me to sleep but didn't make me tired during the day, but once again I stopped. My Onc suggested seeing a neurologist or trying cymbalta. After 6 months of chemo and taking every pill known to man it seemed, I am so done with wanting to take pills. I started alpha lipoic acid 300mg twice a day during chemo to help with the hand and foot cramping and have just stayed on it.

      In mid January, I started the Livestrong program for free to cancer treatment patients at my local YMCA. It is geared towards helping recondition your muscles which mine are in sure need. By the end of the workouts, my feet usually feel like sandbags and my hands are sometimes sore, but I do sleep great those nights from the physical activity. The trainers are aware of cancer patients needs like neuropathy and lymphedema issues. You have access to the whole Y during the 12 week session along with your family members for free. It is a really great deal. Here's link to program which has link to which YMCA locations offer the class.
      http://www.1uponcancer.com/2012/12/16/free-fitness-program-for-cancer-survivors/

      over 4 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar
      SueRae1

      Congrats on reaching this major milestone.

      over 4 years ago
    • Juliana's Avatar
      Juliana

      Thank you all for your responses! I really appreciate it.

      over 4 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar
      Carol-Charlie

      I had almost two years of very strong chemo to kick ovarian cancer out the door. I did and it's five years now of being cancer free. I can walk, sometimes I'll use a very "sexy' cane to keep my balance. I can dance. But must be held tightly by my Tom. I can sit at weddings and cry when my grandson marries his love. I can hold two beautiful great grandchildren in my arms. I can sing in the morning.... and when my fingers drop something... Occasiionally I'll say S........ or dang it... but I then try to let God know I'm sorry. If my feet or calves begin to hurt.... I generally... stand and try to keep my foot from making a fist. (that's what it feels like sometimes)... When I've dealt with it I generally remember to thank God that I'm able to 'deal with it'. I was told it would not go away. However I started taking Vit. B-12 that you disolve under your tongue. It helps... but being elderly or maybe chemo brain.... sometimes I don"t remember to take it... I try to remember that I've fought and won a battle!!! I'll gladly just keep plugging, We had Chemo Classes at our oncology clinic. Taught by a Oncology Nurse. Then each time we got a new drug, we received a page or two of what to expect and what was possible as a side effect.

      over 4 years ago
    • SmedleyMugwomp's Avatar
      SmedleyMugwomp

      After Chemo, I could only feel the heel half of my feet, and both hands lost feeling on the last 3 fingers-but not really numb-just tingly. I would get into bed at night and have to feel my feet to see if they were warm or cold. Then about a year after Chemo, my wife had me go to a Reflexologist for neuropathy. I'm a skeptic--didn't think this would work, but for me, this has helped. This non-MD worked on both hands and feet, and the hand numbness went away after about 3 treatments (every other week). The feet took about 2 months plus, but the feeling has come back and I still see her about twice a month. I won't say if this might help you, but I (the skeptic) believe it's helped me--and without any chemicals. Your results may vary. Best wishes.

      over 4 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar
      alivenwell

      Ask your doctor if there are any supplements or vitamins or medication that can be taken for this. Basically the covering around the peripheral nerves has dissolved and needs to be rebuilt back up. I am taking vitamin B6 at 100mg daily.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Jimig's Avatar
      Jimig

      Wow..I haven't had a lot of free time to check in here since I joined, and haven't really said a lot about my experiences with this cancer business..cuz it takes most of us by surprise , and then we all either have to learn to fight it or give up..
      I chose to never give up..and..
      after experiencing necrotizing faciitis , to getting 12 rounds of chemo...fluro 5. Or...floor 5? Can't recall name, but it was with oxiplatin and neuropathy suddenly came to mind when I read Juliana's question..
      because even tho I stopped that batch of chemo about 8 months ago, it brought back memories of my chemo experiences..of which I've kept a daily diary since this all started..and reading others answers made me realize I wasn't alone, in so far as each of our experiences, and I wanted to say that it does get better..as long as you have positive attitude and make your mind refuse to believe that you will lose to this cancer XXX..
      I still have sensations I never had before enduring chemo..such as my left foot, the toes seem numb all the time..as well as the extreme tips of certain fingers still don't feel 'right', and my left thigh sometimes feels like i have zaps? or a burning? feeling that no amount of massage seems to make a difference...wierd..but I've found that by slowly taking everything one step at a time, and becoming more active a little bit at a time, the physical activity helps your body recuperate.. Remember..a body in motion..stays in motion..you know the alternative..and I'm not ready to let rigamortis set in..lol
      So..hang in there Juliana..you will get better... :-)

      almost 4 years ago
    • Jimig's Avatar
      Jimig

      I forgot to add that I experienced that neuropathy the first chemo infusion I had.. I recall wanting to cook a couple eggs..aching into the fridge, recalling being told that the cold may affect me, and feeling something strange immediately opening the fridge door and feeling the cool air rushing out..thinking..wow..weird..grabbing the cardboard container holding the dozen eggs, and going to the frying pan, opening the container, grabbing an egg..and going..Yowwwzer! Ouch ouch ouch..got the egg cracked..mentally thinking..holy moly..they were right..so I grabbed a oven mitt for the other egg..

      Later on wanted a burger..so..I got the burger out of the fridge and foolish me, I grab a hunk to form a patty..tell ya what..I made that thing fast!..ouch ouch ouch again..lol

      So..hope u get better..and I'm glad I found this site..I just have to find a bit more time..since I'm a survivor..I tend to stay busy as a bee..or try..

      almost 4 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar
      DaveWaz

      Juliana,
      Thank you for sharing your experience. What is your latest update on your neuropathy?

      It is encouraging for me to see all you WhatNexters sharing your insights! If any are still seeking information on neuropathy, perhaps you will find this article helpful.

      http://www.whatnext.com/blog/posts/chemotherapy-induced-peripheral-neuropathy-what-why-and-how

      There are additional questions asked by WhatNexters about related topics at the bottom of the article that might also bring you insight.

      David

      over 3 years ago
    • Judt1940's Avatar
      Judt1940

      I thought my imagination that neuropathy actually worse 6 weeks from last chemo. Knees hurt, shins, zaps of electricity in areas. Back hurts from concentrating on walking so don't fall. Went into this with neuropathy because of back. Gabapentin made my feet and ankles swell. Have cried with frustration.

      about 3 years ago
    • Juliana's Avatar
      Juliana

      It's been over a year since my last chemo treatment. I still have some neuropathy in my feet. I got my hands back, mostly. I'd say about 95%. My feet on the other hand still bother me, but I can live with it now. Only when it's very cold do I get any pain. I took myself off of all medication since last March (2013). I talk OTC B vitamins supplements.
      Jud1940, I will keep you in my prayers. I hope your pain will leave you one day. Until then stay hopeful and positive.

      about 3 years ago

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