Peripheral neuropathy is characterized by sensations of pain, tingling, burning, numbness, or weakness that usually begin in the hands or feet. It can be caused by certain illnesses. It can also be a side effect of some anticancer treatment. Although rarely reported by Gleevec patients, we have provided some tips to managing this side effect if it does occur. These suggestions are not a substitute for your physician’s guidance and care.

Neuropathy Coping Strategies:

Prevent Falls

  • Move rugs out of your path so you won’t trip.
  • Put up rails on the walls and in the bathroom.
  • Put bathmats in the shower and bathtub.
  • Wear sturdy shoes.
  • Use a cane.

Be Careful in the Kitchen and Shower

  • Use hot pads in the kitchen to protect your hands from burns.
  • Before you bathe, ask someone to make sure the water in the bath or shower is not too hot.

Protect Your Hands and Feet

  • Wear shoes inside and outside your home.
  • Wear gloves when you are working outside or in the kitchen.
  • Check your feet for cuts every day. Sit down and use a small mirror or ask someone to check for you.
  • Use ice packs to help your hands and feet feel better.

Ask for Help

  • Ask for help with things such as buttoning clothes, using the computer, opening jars, or holding a pen.
  • Slow down and give yourself more time to do things.

Treatment Suggestions

  • Over-the-counter pain medication. If pain is severe, discuss other options with your physician.
  • Neurontin (although used to treat epilepsy, doctors prescribe it to treat nerve pain)
  • Diet rich in B vitamins or use supplements, folic acid, and antioxidants
  • Topical anesthetics such as lidocaine patches and creams
  • Physical therapy or regular exercise
  • Massage or acupuncture may help decrease pain

Helpful Links

WebMD: Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy – the Basics
Mayo Clinic: Peripheral neuropathy