How peripheral neuropathy can affect you
Peripheral neuropathy can affect a person’s quality of life in many ways. The impact varies from one person to another, but it can include:
- discomfort and pain from physical symptoms
- trouble completing everyday tasks (such as doing up buttons) because of finger numbness and loss of fine motor control
- high risk of scalds and cuts because of numbness – in addition, chemotherapy often lowers your resistance to infection, so minor burns and cuts can quickly become serious
- risk of not noticing injuries, which may become more serious because they aren’t treated promptly
- difficulty walking because you have numbness or pain in your feet, you find it hard to keep your balance and/or you can’t sense where your feet are in relation to the ground
- high risk of falls because of numb feet, dizziness, balance problems and difficulty sensing where your body is in space
- poor sleep because of shooting pains
- not being able to drive because of numb feet and difficulty sensing where your body is in space
- not being able to return to work or other activities
- feeling isolated if it is hard to move around
- money issues because of health care costs
- feeling that you have lost your independence.
It is important to tell your treatment team if you start having any symptoms of peripheral neuropathy or notice a change in your symptoms. Adjusting your cancer treatment may allow the nerves to recover and avoid permanent damage. Your team can also check whether anything else is causing the symptoms.
Dr Susanna Park, IN FOCUS research program and Senior Lecturer, Brain and Mind Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, NSW; Katrina Dick, Consumer; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Phil Mendoza-Jones, Consumer; Jodie Nixon, Clinical Team Leader, Occupational Therapy, Cancer Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Rachel Tunney, Consumer; Jane Turner, Senior Exercise Physiologist, Sydney Cancer Survivorship Centre, Concord Hospital, NSW; Dr Shirley Wong, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Sunshine Hospital, Western Health, VIC.
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