Chemo Induced Peripheral Neuropathy : How Can Physio Help CIPN

What Is Chemo Induced Peripheral Neuropathy?

CIPN stands for Chemo Induced Peripheral Neuropathy which is damage to the peripheral nerves of the body due to strong drugs needed to treat certain types of cancers. This can affect between 20-90% of patients receiving treatment such as chemotherapy. The most common areas to get symptoms are the hands and feet, however CIPN can affect the whole body.

Some Of The Symptoms Of CIPN

Some of the symptoms include

  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Tingling
  • Pins and needles
  • Burning
  • Reduced ability to feel hot and cold
  • Loss of balance
  • Sharp zapping pain to fingers and toes

What Are The Risk Factors For Developing CIPN

  • Increasing dosage of chemotherapy drugs
  • Pre-treatment of concurrent treatment with other neurotoxic chemotherapies
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidsim
  • HIV infection
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Shignles

3 Things To Do If You Are Experiencing Early CIPN Symptoms

1.Try to stay mobile to help reduce symptoms and watch for the warning signs such as tingling/numbness in the hands and feet

2. Recognise it early. Early recognition is key because adjustments may be required that can decrease the severity and minimise the risk of long-term nerve damange

3. Control the pain. Talk to your GP about any other pain relief you can take. Some gentle stretching, walking, baths, massage, heat and cold packs can help to settle the pain for some.

What Does Physio Treatment For CIPN Involve

Treatment from a cancer rehab physio can help ease some symptoms of CIPN. Treatment would include hands on treatment such as massage, gentle mobilisations, gentle stretches, and exercises to help move the blood around your body. Your physio will also give you advice and education to help manage symptoms and prevent it from worsening.

Some Tips To Manage CIPN At Home

It’s important to seek care to help manage your symptoms but here are some things you can do at home to help.

  • Wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes
  • Avoid sandals, open toed or open heal shoes
  • Inspect feet for daily injuries such as cuts or grazes
  • Avoid walking barefoot or in only socks
  • Check for foreign objects in shoes before putting them on
  • Change shoes in the middle of the day to avoid continued pressure
  • Living areas and walkways should be kept well-lit and clear of obstacles
  • Nightlights should be kept on in hallways and bathrooms
  • Non- slip mats in the shower and kitchen
  • Walk close to the wall or if needed a walking stick
  • Use a shopping trolley to help with balance when grocery shopping

If you know someone who is undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, feel free to share this information with them or email us with any questions you may have. Remember this advice is general in nature and we recommend you speak to your health care professional for specific advice tailored for you.

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