Coping With Neuropathy After Taxotere
Taxotere, a common chemotherapy drug, has given many cancer patients a renewed lease on life. But, as many patients have discovered, it has drawbacks. One of the most common side effects of Taxotere is neuropathy, which can cause pain, weakness, numbness, and other problems in the body. At Hotze Runkle PLLC, our Taxotere lawsuit attorneys have seen firsthand how neuropathy can complicate cancer patients’ challenges. Join us as we unpack the complexities of coping with neuropathy after Taxotere treatments.
What Is Neuropathy?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, neuropathy refers to any condition that damages the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Because these nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system, many doctors call this condition “peripheral neuropathy.” Some of the most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Tingling or Pins and Needles: A tingling sensation, often described as “pins and needles,” that typically starts in the tips of the toes and fingers and may spread upward.
- Numbness: Affected individuals might not feel pain, temperature, or touch as they once did.
- Pain: People may experience sharp, throbbing, freezing, or burning pain in affected areas.
- Muscle Weakness: Some may find it hard to move or feel like their legs are heavy and hard to lift.
- Loss of Coordination: Affected individuals might struggle with fine motor skills, like buttoning a shirt or holding utensils.
- Sensitivity: The affected areas can become hypersensitive, where even the touch of a bed sheet can cause significant discomfort.
- Heat Intolerance: Individuals may become more sensitive to heat and feel excessively sweaty or have difficulty sweating.
- Digestive Problems: In cases where the autonomic nerves are affected, individuals may experience constipation, diarrhea, or other digestive issues.
- Dizziness or Fainting: When the blood pressure becomes hard to regulate, standing up might cause dizziness or even fainting.
- Changes in the Skin, Hair, or Nails: This might include thinning of the skin, loss of hair, or brittle nails.
How Does Chemotherapy Cause Neuropathy?
Chemotherapy can have significant side effects, one of which is neuropathy. Here’s a breakdown of how chemotherapy can lead to neuropathy:
- Toxic Effects on Nerve Cells: Chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cancer cells. However, these drugs can also affect nerve cells, damaging or interfering with nerve function.
- Impaired Blood Supply to Nerves: Some chemotherapy drugs can affect small blood vessels, leading to decreased blood flow to peripheral nerves. Nerves require proper blood supply to function correctly, and any reduction can impair their ability to transmit signals.
- Inflammatory Responses: Certain chemotherapy drugs can cause an inflammatory response in the body. This inflammation can, in turn, lead to nerve damage or worsen existing nerve damage.
- Direct Nerve Damage: Some drugs might directly damage the structure of the nerves, affecting their ability to transmit signals.
- Disruption of Nerve Cell Processes: Chemotherapy can interfere with various processes within nerve cells, like synthesizing chemicals or proteins essential for nerve function. When these processes are interrupted, the nerve may not function as efficiently or might start to degenerate.
Tips for Dealing with Neuropathy After Chemo
According to the American Cancer Society, there is no way to prevent peripheral neuropathy after chemo treatments, but they offer the following tips for managing pain and other symptoms:
- Steroids, numbing creams, anti-seizure medications, and some opioids (when taken safely) can help with nerve pain. Other treatments for nerve pain include electrical nerve stimulation, physical therapy, acupuncture, and biofeedback.
- Take your pain medication as prescribed, as managing pain is easier if you can stop it before it becomes unbearable.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, as it can worsen the effects of chemotherapy on your nerves and lead to additional nerve damage.
- Chemo patients with diabetes must make extra efforts to control their blood sugar, as high blood sugar levels can damage nerves.
- If you have neuropathy in your feet, stay seated as much as possible.
- Give yourself extra time to complete physical tasks or ask your friends and family for help.
- Avoid things that can exacerbate pain and other neuropathy symptoms, such as hot or cold temperatures and tight-fitting clothes or shoes.
- Neuropathy can also impact internal bodily functions like bowel movements and bladder functions. Eating a well-balanced diet can help with these symptoms.
Contact Our Taxotere Lawsuit Attorneys Now
Neuropathy is just one of many potential side effects of taking chemo drugs like Taxotere, and not all these effects have been widely known until recently. Our firm presents Taxotere patients who have suffered eye damage and similar side effects during their treatment. Call (800) 763-6155 now or complete our contact form for a free case evaluation.