How Chemotherapy Can Affect Your Nerves

According to estimates, about 1,735,530 people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Many of the people diagnosed with cancer will undergo chemotherapy treatments. While chemotherapy is one of the most effective tools at fighting cancer, it can have troubling side effects.

Unfortunately, 30-40% of the cancer patients who use chemotherapy drugs will develop a condition called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

CIPN is a broad term that includes several types of symptoms caused by nerve damage. If you plan to undergo chemotherapy treatments, you should know how the drugs can affect your nerves. Chemotherapy may give you the best odds at beating cancer, but you should have as much information as possible when you choose a treatment option.

Chemo drugs can attack healthy cells

Since cancer cells usually grow quickly, doctors choose chemotherapy drugs that attack fast-growing cells. The drugs, however, don’t know the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells.

Chemo drugs are particularly rough on hair follicles, cells in your digestive tract and reproductive system, and the bone marrow cells that make blood. Sometimes, the chemotherapy drugs also damage nerves while killing cancer cells.

Common symptoms of chemotherapy nerve damage

At St. Luke Integrative Medical Center, we work with patients who have experienced a wide range of side effects while taking chemotherapy drugs. Nerve damage is one of the most challenging side effects because it prevents patients from interacting with the world in the way they did before their treatments. Nerve damage can also cause intense pain that doesn’t respond to medication.

Some of the most common symptoms of chemotherapy nerve damage that we see include:

Obviously, some of these side effects are easier to live with than others. Although, even a fairly benign symptom like tingling sensations can disrupt a person’s life.

Nerve damage heals unpredictably

Many people only experience the effects of nerve damage while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Once they stop taking the drugs, the adverse effects go away within a few days or weeks.

Unfortunately, nerve damage heals unpredictably. While one person may get better within a week, another person may struggle for years. Some people have nerve damage for the rest of their lives.

Treatment options for chemotherapy-induced neuropathy

St. Luke Integrative Medical Center has several treatment options for people living with CIPN.

Our doctors use the latest regenerative stem cell therapies to grow healthy nerve cells.

Treatment plans may also include learning how to modify your lifestyle to cope with ongoing symptoms of nerve damage.

We do not, however, use medications and surgeries to treat conditions. We prefer a holistic approach that benefits your overall health.

We’ve seen stem cell technologies work wonders on people with CIPN and similar issues. You don’t need a new series of medications and surgeries to feel well again.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ortega

If you want to learn more about how chemotherapy affects nerves and the treatment options that can give you relief, schedule a consultation with Dr. Charmaine Ortega at St. Luke Integrative Medical Center. You can call us at 256-207-5236 or use our website to request an appointment time that’s convenient for you.

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