Treating Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Dr. Sharon Gurm, BSc. ND, FABNO, Naturopathic Oncologist, Port Moody, BC discusses how a naturopathic oncologist can help treat chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

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Dr. Sharon Gurm, BSc. ND, FABNO, Naturopathic Oncologist, Port Moody, BC discusses how a naturopathic oncologist can help treat chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Sharon Gurm, BSc. ND, FABNO, Naturopathic Oncologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 35 seconds

Peripheral neuropathy is a set of symptoms caused by damage to the distal nerves. These are the nerves that are away from the brain and spinal cord.

In chemotherapy and active cancer treatment, certain chemotherapy drugs such as taxanes and the platinum-based drugs can cause damage to the peripheral nerves, and this is known as chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy, affecting approximately 40 percent of people who undergo cancer treatment.

Typically, the peripheral neuropathy begins in the fingers and toes and moves upward from there. It can present as numbness, or tingling, or burning, or a shooting-stabbing type of pain sensation, and it can cause loss of motor control, which might result in difficulty picking up objects or may result in loss of balance.

It can also be a treatment-related side effect in which case, if a person is undergoing chemotherapy, and they develop severe and persistent forms of chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy, they may have to pause or stop their chemotherapy entirely. So for that reason, it’s important to look at the factors that influence chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Conventional treatments for chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy are largely directed at helping to manage the pain. These include steroid therapies, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and even topical numbing agents.

These also tend to produce mixed results depending on the individual and the severity of the neuropathy. One of the most promising treatments is low-level laser therapy, also known as cold laser therapy, which works by reducing the inflammation around the nerves, and also by increasing local serotonin production and improving circulation to the area where the nerves have been damaged, thereby expediting the healing process.

Treatments typically last anywhere from 15 to up to 60 minutes depending on the amount of area that is affected, and it doesn’t interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatments, but the effectiveness can vary depending on the individual. Definitely the earlier the cold laser therapy is begun, the better the chances of improving the condition.

To learn more about cold laser therapy, or low-level laser therapy for chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy, seek the guidance of an integrative medical doctor or a naturopathic doctor who specializes in cancer care.

Presenter: Dr. Sharon Gurm, Naturopathic Doctor, Port Moody, BC

Local Practitioners: Naturopathic Doctor

Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment Video Quiz ( 60 participated.)

Cancer treatments and peripheral neuropathy


Peripheral neuropathy is caused by chemotherapy treatments.


Peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness and loss of sensation in the extremities, usually starting in the feet and hands.


Peripheral neuropathy never usually interferes with regular cancer treatments.


Low level laser therapy or 'cold laser therapy' is used to help treat peripheral neuropathy.

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.