Patient Power: How Can Myeloma Patients Combat Neuropathy?
How can myeloma patients combat the pain and numbness caused by neuropathy? Are there alternative treatment regimens? Patient Power meets with a panel of experts, including Dr. Frits van Rhee, Dr. Guido Tricot, Dr. Faith Davies and Dr. Gareth Morgan, discussing ways to work with your medical team to help reduce the intensity of drug side effects. The specialists also provide at-home steps to take for symptom management and how to deal with this common side effect of myeloma treatment.
Myeloma can cause peripheral neuropathy in a few ways. It is thought that the myeloma protein (paraprotein) produced by the malignant plasma cells, can cause direct damage to the nerve cells, resulting in symptoms of neuropathy. Sometimes, myeloma may be complicated by a condition called amyloidosis (light chain deposition) which can cause peripheral neuropathy. In some people, high levels of paraprotein can lead to thickening of the blood (hyperviscosity) and cause sluggish blood flow, which may also lead to symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. In any case, neuropathy is not an easy side effect to deal with for any myeloma patient. But as the treatment you take controls the myeloma, peripheral neuropathy should improve.
Factors that may worsen neuropathy:
- Smoking - Interferes with peripheral circulation and nerves so consider stopping.
- Diabetes - Monitor blood sugar levels carefully. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels can damage the peripheral circulation and nerves.
- Alcohol - Chronic alcohol abuse also frequently leads to nutritional deficiencies (including B12, thiamine, and folate) that contribute to the development of peripheral neuropathy. Speak to the doctor about safely reducing alcohol intake if it is a problem.
- Infections - Some bacteria and viruses such as shingles can cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Other Medications - Some chemotherapies and other types of drugs not used to treat cancer can also cause peripheral neuropathy.
Interested in learning more? Read myeloma patient Lizzy Smith's article about neuropathy and how to live with it.
How Can Myeloma Patients Combat Neuropathy? from Patient Power on Vimeo.