Category Archives: Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

Help For Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

Photo of neuron courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Renjith Krishnan
Photo of neuron courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Renjith Krishnan

Help For Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)

As a breast cancer coach, one of the things I hear all too frequently is that people who undergo chemotherapy have terrible troubles with peripheral neuropathy, termed CIPN.  For some, it’s a real problem, with long-lasting effects on nerves that sometimes never goes away. This article is dedicated to all who are undergoing chemotherapy right now, especially Taxol, with some tips and help to minimize the damage these drugs can do to your nerves.

What Is Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)?

CIPN manifests in different ways for different people.  Some complain of a burning pain in their hands and/or feet, some suffer from quite the opposite problem, numbness in hands or feet, making them feel clumsy and accident-prone.  One of my subscribers recently told me she had it so bad it nearly drove her crazy – she had all the symptoms, burning AND stabbing pain, as well as numbness in spots.

CIPN is caused by the chemotherapy drugs given to you to combat your cancer, and often the combination of drugs you receive dictates how moderate or severe your symptoms can be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – chemotherapy is HELL on your nervous system.  While I didn’t have CIPN – and I believe that I didn’t because of several alternative therapies I was doing in combination with the chemotherapy – I did suffer from fragile nerves after I finished chemotherapy, for quite some time.  I found that just sitting and having an animated discussion with friends would leave me literally trembling, which felt quite bizarre.

While science hasn’t quite figured out exactly what causes CIPN, one proposed theory is that the toxicity of various chemo drugs damages the myelin sheath – the protective covering around nerves.

There Are Things You Can Do To Combat CIPN!

One Chinese medicine doctor working at Johns Hopkins Integrative Cancer Center said via a webinar earlier this year that having acupuncture sessions, which must begin at the inception of chemotherapy to have the most effectiveness, was proving to be quite helpful for CIPN.

Today, however, my friend Elyn Jacobs shared an article recently released by the website Integrative Oncology Essentials: Complementary Therapies for Chemo-Neuropathy: An Integrative Oncologist’s Bag of Tricks.  This is a fabulous article, much needed by anyone suffering from CIPN.  It goes through the symptoms, probable causes, but best of all it lists 23 different complementary therapies that could make a difference for you and your CIPN.

I loved the fact that the article included meditation and guided imagery (both of which I offer cancer patients through my Change Your Life Meditation Course), it discussed the benefits of massage therapy, acupuncture, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, Reiki, yoga, topical therapies, as well as a host of supplements that are known to help, such as glutamine.

This is a fantastic resource for us, many thanks to Elyn Jacobs for sharing it, and to Dr Brian D Lawenda, the author of the article.

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