Alternative Therapies for Your Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy Patients

Alternative Therapies for Your Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy Patients

One of the more challenging patient populations you can treat is the chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy patient.  They’ve already been through the cancer diagnosis and are either in the midst of chemotherapy or they’ve finished their treatment.

Just when they think they’re done with all the side effects of chemotherapy, they’re visited with[1]

–       Shooting pain

–       Burning and numbness

–       Tingling in the hands and feet

–       Inability to sleep because of the pain

These Patients Require All Your Skills!

Can you imagine the frustration?

Chances are really good that no one told them that chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) was a potential side effect of their treatment because, let’s face it, no one can really predict which patients will develop chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy.  Why bring it up if you don’t know for certain that it’s going to happen?

For many, their symptoms last well beyond their chemotherapy.

For your CIPN patients, the first option is, of course, drugs to deal with the pain.  But many chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy patients are choosing to be more proactive and do everything they can to alleviate their current symptoms and lessen the possibility of permanent nerve damage.  They don’t just want to take a pill to make them feel better. They want to give their bodies the best treatments available.

What Else Can They Do?

More and more CIPN patients are opting for what used to be called “alternative medicine” treatments.  While many think of anything outside of conventional medicine as “alternative”, that’s really not accurate.  Alternative treatments are defined as anything not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  The treatments we’re talking about here are more complementary or integrative therapies.  In other words, they’re therapies used in addition to and to complement traditional medicine, not taking the place of it.

Because of the growing popularity (and effectiveness) of these complementary and integrative therapies, the medical community has actually named them – Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Some complementary and alternative therapies providing good results for chemotherapy induced chemotherapy patients are:

–       Cancer treatment specific diets

–       Herbal supplements

–       Non-herbal supplements (like Vitamins B6 and B12, alpha lipoic acid)

–       Acupuncture

–       Massage therapy and Reflexology

–       Exercise

–       Homeopathic and ayurvedic medicine

Any of these therapies, in the hands of skilled practitioner, is a great complement to your chemotherapy and other cancer treatment and can provide substantial relief from chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy pain.  Offering these services to your chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy patients is an excellent way to treat the whole patient and not just the symptoms.

Involve Their Oncologist

Before you start any Complementary and Alternative Medicine treatments with your chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy patients, talk to their oncologists.[2] Make sure that what you’re planning to do will not have an adverse effect on their chemotherapy regimen (some antioxidants do).  Always keep the oncologist in the loop on what you’re doing to complement or following a chemotherapy regimen.

Why These Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments Work

Many of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine regimens we mentioned above will help deal with and even alleviate some chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

The body is a finely tuned instrument and all the systems work together.  Massage therapy, acupuncture and Reflexology can help with muscle pain and stimulate the systems within the body to fight the cancer.

Certain supplements can help give the body the nutrients and vitamins it needs to repair itself and eliminate the possibility of permanent nerve damage caused by chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy.


Treating the Whole Patient By Working With The Whole Team

None of the medical specialties treating chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy patients operates in a vacuum.  You all need to know what the others are doing.

Luckily, most oncologists these days are familiar with the Complementary and Alternative Therapies chemotherapy patients are turning to for relief from the chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy symptoms.  Make sure that you involve your patients’ other treaters in your care by communicating with them.  By integrating your Complementary and Alternative Medicine treatments into the overall treatment program, you have a much better chance of giving your patients the optimum results they deserve.

When you are ready, let them know you’re there to help them.

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