Chemotherapy is most commonly associated with a form of cancer treatment using drugs that treats the whole body. Patients undergoing chemotherapy can sometimes experience pain that is caused not by cancer they are being treated for, but by the chemotherapy treatment itself. Some of the most commonly used drugs in chemotherapy can cause nerve pain and the most typical nerve pain seen is associated with the hands and feet. Patients usually experience tingling or pins and needles of the hands and feet, otherwise known as peripheral neuropathy or numbness which is painful. This is known as paraesthesia.
The peripheral nervous system is made up of the nerves that serve our extremities; hands, feet, fingers etc and damage to the nerves in this nervous system can affect the way messages are sent from the brain to the muscles, joints and other organs causing pain in these areas. Chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to these nerves whilst treating cancer and peripheral neuropathy is often first seen in the feet and toes. The pain can be mild to severe and may affect balance, in some cases affecting walking or may show as a loss of feeling in the fingers resulting in clumsiness. Chronic paraesthesia may result in patients experiencing difficulty walking or using their hands for smaller, fiddly tasks. It is important that this nerve damage is addressed early to reduce ongoing issues. Long-term nerve damage can eventually lead to permanent numbness.
At London Interventional Clinic, our Consultant in Pain Medicine, Dr Stephen Humble, is actively involved in working with the British Pain Society and patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. Medication may be the first treatment offered and alternatives include topical creams and patch therapy, such as Capsaicin Patch Therapy. This treatment can be offered in several of our clinic locations and consists of the application of a patch using Capsaicin directly to the skin where the medicine is delivered to the nerves. Contact us to book an assessment and consultation with Dr Humble, or if you have any questions regarding treatment.