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Cancer’s Lingering Effect

A cancer diagnosis is terrifying. The questions, the fear and the concept of facing their own mortality are enough to paralyze even the strongest individual.

In the not-so-distant past, the standard treatment protocol was surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or some combination of the three, and that was it. Then the patient played the waiting game to see what, if anything, worked.

What people didn’t realize was that the end of a course of a course of chemotherapy was not the end of the healing process. They would be dealing with the lasting effects of chemotherapy long after their hair returned and the nausea ended.

One of the those lasting effects is post-chemo-therapy peripheral neuropathy.

Fortunately for the PT community, cancer patients are quickly learning that the right physical therapy, nutrition and often the correct forms of nerve stimulation, when combined in the hands of a skilled therapists, can help alleviate the symptoms of their post-chemotherapy peripheral neuropathy.

Physical therapy can help the post-chemotherapy neuropathy patient deal with the symptoms and pain associated both with their cancer and their course of treatment. Often, by carefully addressing pain in the correct way and related tissues, we may actually stimulate a healthier nervous system. This is a basic building block for regaining pre-cancer health and alleviating nerve pain.

Chemotherapy and other cancer medications can wreck a patient’s digestive system. In the process of killing cancer cells, it can also damage healthy cells, and that’s what brings on the side effects of chemotherapy. This can not only affect the ability to eat but also prevent the body from getting the nutrients it needs. They can be dealing with any number of symptoms, ranging from nausea and loss of appetite to dry mouth and changes in their sense of taste and smell.

Patient with post-chemotherapy neuropathy need to make sure they’re getting nutrients to prevent or reverse nutritional deficiencies, lessen the side effects of treatment, and improve their quality of life.

Physical therapy practice can offer them hope for a more normal life without debilitating pain. Yes, they survived cancer, but they can also beat their post-chemotherapy peripheral neuropathy.

By alma Deguzman, PT, CPed, and John Hayes JR.,DC