Neuropathy is nerve damage or dysfunction. Nerves are part of the nervous system, which is responsible for controlling and coordinating all of the parts of the body. They are long, fibrous structures that send messages, receive information, and process all of that data into chemical signals. Peripheral nerves specifically carry information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, organs, and skin, conveying feelings of temperature, numbness, pressure, and pain. Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy occurs when nerves have difficulty communicating with one another.
Peripheral neuropathy is a side effect of some chemotherapy drugs, especially in higher doses. It can occur during or shortly after receiving treatment and last a few days, or it can last longer and persist between treatments. Tingling and numbness are sometimes triggered by cold, whether eating, drinking, or touching something cold. Peripheral neuropathy typically resolves within 6-12 months after treatment, but for some, symptoms are longer-lasting or permanent.
Contact the care team immediately if experiencing any symptoms. The provider can help reduce symptoms by treating the nerve damage early, along with making necessary adjustments to the therapy schedule and dosage. There are some prescription medications that can help manage pain caused by peripheral neuropathy, but they also have side effects. The best way to manage peripheral neuropathy is to take some simple precautions in life and continue communicating with the care team and provider about the symptoms.