Nerve Damage

Lymphoma treatment, particularly chemotherapy, has also been known to cause damage to the nerves in your limbs. This is known as peripheral neuropathy. Very rarely, you may also experience late onset of nerve damage to your organs. Other health factors such as diabetes, vitamin deficiency, alcoholism, or kidney failure may worsen symptoms. Symptoms of nervous system damage include:

  • Changes in perception of temperature, pain, or pressure on your skin
  • Feelings of numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles” in your hands and feet, usually starting at the fingertips and toes
  • Sudden sharp or stabbing pains
  • Loss of sensation of touch
  • Problems with balance or difficulty walking
  • Clumsiness
  • Trouble with fine motor movements such as picking up objects or buttoning clothes
  • Hearing loss
  • Jaw pain
  • Constipation
  • Postural hypotension (feeling dizzy, light headed, or faint when standing up from sitting or lying down)

Be sure to talk to your doctor about any of these symptoms that you experience. Symptoms should improve over time but some can take up to a year or more. Very rarely, in some people, these symptoms may become worse and/or permanent. You can ask your doctor about treatments and strategies to help you manage, such as medications, topical creams, pain patches, acupuncture, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medical accessories (eg, compression socks for postural hypotension), diet changes (for constipation) and exercise that can help alleviate some of the symptoms.

If you experience hearing loss, ask your doctor about multidisciplinary strategies with various healthcare professionals to help you manage this symptom from both a physical and psychological perspective.

Here are some tips to help alleviate your symptoms of nerve damage or avoid other physical injury:

  • Wear comfortable shoes: try footwear with rubber soles and avoid high heels; orthotics may also be helpful to reduce pain
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: try using gloves to wash dishes or a thermometer to test bath water; use gloves, mittens, and boots to keep your hands and feet warm
  • Massage, stretch, and exercise your fingers and toes: try doing these techniques for a few minutes at least four times a day
  • Inspect your feet regularly: watch out for damaged skin in numb areas such as toenails and the soles of feet
  • Ensure a high fibre diet: to promote regularity and help alleviate constipation

References:

Canadian Cancer Society. Late and long-term effects of treatment
Accessed June 3, 2014

Lymphoma Association. Late effects of lymphoma treatment
Accessed June 3, 2014

Mayo Clinic. Disease and Conditions. Diseases Orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension)
Accessed June 13, 2014

National Cancer Institute. Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment. Ways to Manage Physical Changes
Accessed June 3, 2014