Your Health: Causes, symptoms and care for peripheral neuropathy
by Terry Hollenbeck, M.D.
Aug 21, 2014 | 1850 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As part of my cancer treatment journey, I have developed a pretty severe case of peripheral neuropathy of my feet. I was warned that the chemotherapy could cause neuropathy, but I didn't know it would be quite this uncomfortable.

Peripheral neuropathy is caused by damage to certain nerves — mostly the sensory nerves — which deal with touch, pain, and heat. Most of the time, the problem starts in the fingers and toes and can worsen to include the feet, legs, and hands.

Causes of peripheral neuropathy include:

- Diabetes (the most common cause).

- Chemotherapy.

- Alcoholism.

- Vitamin deficiencies.

The most common symptoms are:

- Pain, burning or tingling of fingers, toes, hands and feet.

- Muscle weakness and balance problems.

- Loss of sensation to touch.

- Difficulty using fingers for tasks such as buttoning one's clothing.

Measures that may help relieve the symptoms of neuropathy:

- Acupuncture, massage, physical therapy and reflexology.

- Relaxation therapy.

- Prescribed medications such as pain medicine, lidocaine patches, capsaicin cream, and anti-depressant and anti-seizure medications.

- Vitamins and supplements such as vitamins B1, B6, B12 and alpha lipoic acid. Check with your doctor for proper doses and any other treatment options.

How to take care of yourself:

- Because neuropathy can cause poor balance, remove throw rugs and clear up any clutter.

- Put grab bars near shower, bathtub or toilet.

- Protect your hands and feet where sensation is decreased and be aware of very hot or cold temperatures.

- Don't drink alcohol.

- Check hands and feet for cuts, scrapes, burns or any other signs of injury.

If you think you are having any of the symptoms of neuropathy see your doctor for evaluation and suggested treatment.

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