Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) that carry messages to and from the rest of your body. Depending on where these nerves are damaged, various symptoms may develop:
- Numbness, tingling or pain in the hands and/or feet
- Muscle weakness
- A change in organ function, such as constipation
- Reduced walking speed and balance
- Increased risk of fall and subsequent fear of falling
Managing Peripheral Neuropathy
Even when people are getting the best of cancer treatment, they often feel like they need more help with organizing their care and managing symptoms and side effects. Helpsy empowers members to take control of their health through a real-time virtual nurse support service. This service is available via mobile devices, a Helpsy website and automated phone calls.
Clinical Practice Guidelines
Other Approaches and Evidence
Therapies such as somatic yoga and meditation (SYM) or acupuncture can reduce symptoms and improve function, comfort and the overall quality of life for a person with peripheral neuropathy.
The patient-education resource from the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) advises an integrative approach to managing peripheral neuropathy:4
- Eating well, including a balanced diet that includes specific nutrients such as B vitamins (including B1 and B12, folic acid) and antioxidants), and that limits alcohol
- Physical therapy
- Moving more
- Medications: see the American Society of Clinical Oncology website: Peripheral Neuropathy
Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems
|For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.|
- Programs and protocols
- Alschuler & Gazella complementary approaches11
- Block program12
- Lemole, Mehta & McKee protocols13
- McKinney protocols14
- Traditional systems
Laura Pole, RN, OCNS, October 18, 2018: Janie Brown is an oncology nurse and co-founder of a cancer retreat program and centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her BCCT story, The Power of the Integrative Approach in Breast Cancer Treatment (see in Personal Stories below), is a treasure trove of helpful information. She describes how her partner with breast cancer and her team made decisions about chemotherapy, wove in useful complementary therapies to prevent and minimize treatment side effects and created a caring community. The integrative plan staved off the usual chemotherapy side effects of peripheral neuropathy, mucositis, fatigue, nausea and neutropenia.
Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and reviewed by Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on September 14, 2020.
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Peripheral Neuropathy
- National Cancer Institute: Nerve Problems (Peripheral Neuropathy) and Cancer Treatment
- SIO clinical practice guidelines:
- Deng GE, Frenkel M et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2009 Summer;7(3):85-120.
- Deng GE, Rausch SM et al. Complementary therapies and integrative medicine in lung cancer: diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2013 May;143(5 Suppl):e420S-e436S.
- Greenlee H, DuPont-Reyes MJ et al. Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2017 May 6;67(3):194-232.
- Gurdev Parmar and Tina Kaczor: Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology
- Helpsy Inc.: Helpsy Health
- Dawn Lemanne and Victoria Maizes: Advising Women Undergoing Treatment for Breast Cancer
- Integrative Cancer Review
- September 2018 Issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Cancer.Net
- Keith I. Block, MD: Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment