How To Cope With Neuropathy (Nervous System Changes)
Neuropathy (new-RAH-path-ee) is damage to the nerves other than the nerves of the central nervous system ("peripheral neuropathy") or problems with nerve function. Most people first notice symptoms such as a tingling in their hands or feet or an inability to tolerate cold, usually starting with the fingertips and toes. Sometimes, the tingling and pain move up the fingers to the hands or from the toes to the feet. (For additional symptoms, click here.)
Pain medications and other techniques such as exercise can help with symptoms. There is no known cure for neuropathy.
If neuropathy is caused by chemotherapy, it is usually only short term. Tell your doctor immediately if you begin to experience any nerve or muscle symptoms. Symptoms can worsen and become quite painful if left untreated. Your doctor might want to reduce the amount of chemo or stop it all together for awhile. Your doctor may also offer you medication to ease neuropathy symptoms.
For a small percentage of people, neuropathy can continue for years, and sometimes for life.
There are techniques that have helped people manage neuropathy. For example, if balance is a problem, do what you can to avoid falling, such as hold onto hand rails. For additional tips about coping with neuropathy, click here.
Support groups are an excellent place to find information and get emotional support. To find a support group of people with peripheral neuropathy in your area, see the web site of The Neuropathy Association .
NOTE: Tell your doctor about any nerve or muscle symptoms right away. They can worsen and become quite painful if left untreated.