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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

What is peripheral neuropathy, and how can holistic treatments help


Following chemotherapy treatment, people can begin to experience tingling and feelings of numbness, especially around the arms, hands and feet. These sensations can also be accompanied with burning, stabbing or shooting pains which can become worse over time. These are all hallmarks of peripheral neuropathy, a condition that develops due to nerve damage in the body.


Peripheral neuropathy affects one in five people over the age of 55 - and it can be incredibly common following chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy itself (and any accompanying treatments for cancer) can be gruelling in their own right, often with many associated side effects, peripheral neuropathy tends to be another complication to contend with which affects mobility, activity levels and quality of life during cancer recovery.


What is peripheral neuropathy?


Peripheral neuropathy is a condition which affects our central nervous system. Comprised of the brain and the spinal cord, our nervous system plays a vital role in almost every process in the body. Peripheral neuropathy is caused by nerve damage to the extremities including the hands, feet and arms. Symptoms include:


  • Pins and needles or tingling in affected areas

  • Numbness or reduced sensitivity to pain and temperature

  • Loss of sensation, balance or co-ordination

  • Sharp, burning or stabbing pains

  • Twitching and muscle cramps

  • Weakness of the muscles

  • Increased sensitivity to pain even from non-painful stimuli such as light touch

Each person’s symptoms vary, because the condition affects different areas and groups of nerves. Symptoms are usually constant, but may come and go or vary in severity.


During the cancer journey we often experience many changes in the body and symptoms, so it can be difficult to know if you’re dealing with something new or a sensation which is part of the existing pain or discomfort you’ve been feeling. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms it’s important to discuss them with your GP or oncology team first so that they can investigate and confirm the cause.


Holistic treatments for peripheral neuropathy


Dealing with peripheral neuropathy in addition to a cancer diagnosis and any related treatments you’re currently going through can be difficult mentally and physically. Integrative treatments are highly effective for peripheral neuropathy, which is often dealt with using prescription painkillers. I find that many of my clients are fed up with clinical interventions and invasive procedures. They’re also understandably keen to avoid taking even more medications and the potential of further side effects to contend with on top of everything else.


The good news is that there are several non-invasive options which can help relieve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy – sadly holistic therapies and treatments are often overlooked by many doctors. Seeking out health professionals adopting an integrative approach can help you to overcome the pain and discomfort of peripheral neuropathy and manage symptoms without adding to them in any way which could further impact your health.


Reflexology for peripheral neuropathy


Reflexology is a gentle and non-invasive yet powerful therapy which can support cancer patients with their wellbeing at all stages of their journey. Working with reflex or pressure points on the feet (and sometimes the hands) which correspond to different areas of the body, reflexology helps to bring body and mind back into balance. The techniques used apply targeted pressure and stimulate the central nervous system, which triggers the release of endorphins in the brain to improve stress levels and reduce the sensation of pain.


Aromatherapy for peripheral neuropathy


Whilst therapies like acupuncture, reflexology and aromatherapy are beginning to work their way into the allopathic medical system, they are not often given the praise that they deserve. From extensive experience in my own practice with my clients, my family and myself, I can say that aromatherapy can be truly transformative. Research shows promising insights into how essential oils can help with neuropathy and nerve pain. Peppermint, lavender and roman chamomile just to name a few, have all been shown to provide pain relief and have a soothing and calming effect which reduces the severity of peripheral neuropathy symptoms and any cancer-related or post-surgical pain. 


How I can help you to feel better


As a specialist oncology physiotherapist and passionate integrative practitioner, I use a unique blend of medical and holistic techniques and treatments to support my clients’ wellbeing. I tailor every treatment to each individual client based on your unique concerns and preferences. For peripheral neuropathy I often recommend either one of the therapies above or a combined approach - reflexology with my "magic" blend of essential oils - using the two together for best results.


For more information or to make an appointment with me for a free consultation head over to my website or learn more here -






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