- Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families
- Learning about chemotherapy treatment
- A checklist of questions to ask your doctor or nurse
- Should I get a second opinion?
- Where will I get chemo?
- How will the chemo be given to me?
- What are clinical trials?
- Can I take other medicines while I am getting chemo?
- How will I know if the chemo is working?
- How do I give my permission for this treatment?
- Chemo safety
- Will I be able to work during treatment?
- Chemo side effects
- What are common side effects?
- Hair loss
- Increased chance of bruising, bleeding, and infection
- Nausea and vomiting
- Other chemo side effects and tips to manage them
- Mouth, gum, and throat problems
- Nerve and muscle problems
- Skin and nail changes
- Urine changes and bladder and kidney problems
- Weight gain
- Other questions you may have
- When to call your doctor
- Sex, fertility, and chemo
- Thoughts, emotions, and chemo
- Paying for chemo treatment
- More information from your American Cancer Society
Nerve and muscle problems
Certain chemo drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy, a nerve problem that causes tingling, pins and needles, burning sensations, weakness, and/or numbness in your hands and feet.
You may feel any of these nerve-related symptoms:
- Loss of balance
- Trouble picking up things and buttoning clothing
- Problems walking
- Jaw pain
- Hearing loss
- Vision changes
- Stomach pain
Along with affecting the nerves, certain chemo drugs can affect the muscles and make them weak, tired, or sore.
Nerve and muscle effects are frustrating, yet in most cases they are not serious if caught early. They are usually short term and will get better after treatment is done. Still, it’s important to tell your doctor about any nerve or muscle symptoms right away. They can get worse and become quite painful if left untreated. Your doctor might want to stop the chemo for a while or offer you treatment to ease these symptoms.
Caution and common sense can help you deal with nerve and muscle problems.
Follow these tips:
- If your fingers become numb, be very careful when handling objects that are sharp, hot, or otherwise dangerous.
- If your sense of balance is affected, move carefully, use handrails on stairs, and use a bath mat in the tub or shower.
Last Medical Review: 03/07/2013
Last Revised: 03/07/2013