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- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Having tingling (“pins and needles”) or numbness in the hands or feet is a common side effect of some types of chemotherapy drugs. This is called peripheral neuropathy. It may last for a few months after treatment finishes or it may be permanent. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy can get worse a few months after chemotherapy has finished.
The impact of peripheral neuropathy varies from one person to another. It can be painful, annoying and frustrating and, for some people, make it hard to return to hobbies and other activities. Although there is no proven treatment to repair nerve damage, there are some medicines that can help you deal with the symptoms.
Taking care with numb hands or feet
- See a physiotherapist or occupational therapist for exercises to help you carry out your daily activities.
- Test the water temperature with your elbow before putting your hands or feet in to avoid burns.
- Use gloves while doing housework or gardening, a thimble when sewing and oven mitts when cooking.
- Wear well-fitting shoes with non-slippery soles.
- Clear walkways of hazards and remove loose rugs.
- Use non-slip rubber mats in the shower and bath.
- Be careful carrying things as you may have a greater risk of dropping them.
- Regularly check your feet for minor injuries or see a podiatrist.
- If feeling in your feet is severely affected and you can’t feel the pedals in the car, ask someone else to drive for you.
For more on this, see Peripheral neuropathy.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Prof Michael Jefford, Medical Oncologist and Director, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Lucy Bailey, Nurse Counsellor, Cancer Council Queensland; Philip Bullas, Consumer; Dr Kate Gunn, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Rural Health, University of South Australia, SA; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Kim Kerin-Ayres, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Survivorship, Concord Hospital, NSW; Sally Littlewood, Physiotherapist, Seymour Health, VIC; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health,VIC; Melanie Moore, Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Supervisor, University of Canberra Cancer Wellness Clinic, ACT; June Savva, Senior Clinician Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash Cancer Centre, Monash Health, VIC; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner and Research Fellow, University of New South Wales, NSW; Prof Janette Vardy, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre and Professor of Cancer Medicine, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lyndell Wills, Consumer.
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