I had chemo for breast cancer and now have neuropathy in my feet and legs. What can be done?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 26, 2016
Gail asked...

I had chemotherapy for breast cancer three years ago. I have been on Femara since. I am now suffering from neuropathy in my feet and legs. What can be done to help? I understand that electrical stimulation might help (I currently own a Medea 2500 Tens Unit). Could it be used? I also read that multivitamin B supplements can help. I found one on the internet called WSN Nerve support formula. Is there any point in taking it? Thank you for your answer. Gail B.

Expert Answers

Bruce A. Feinberg, MD, chief of the Georgia Cancer Specialists, is an oncologist and the author of Breast Cancer Answers and Colon Cancer Answers and a popular speaker on cancer-related topics.

The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for breast cancer can cause neuropathy, or nerve damage, as a side effect, but it is usually temporary. However, there are cases in which the neuropathy lasts for a long time after chemotherapy is completed, and some patients report permanent nerve damage, although this is rare.

There are many steps you can take to cope with  neuropathy and keep it from interfering in your life. In addition, talk to your doctor and explain that this side effect has persisted.Some doctors recommend vitamin B6 and other supplements to help with neuropathy.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

My best to you, Gail, as you continue! I just completed my chemo treatment. The final four sessions caused neuropathy. After researching and consulting my wellness clinic, I decided on the following: 1) Acupuncture 2) Glutamin 3) Vitamin B12 4) Sphingolin (brand name Ecological Formulas)

I didn't find all the answers listed above until after my 2nd treatment. My 2nd treatment neuropathy was worse than after my 1st treatment. However, my 3rd treatment neuropathy was better than the 2nd, and the 4th better than the 3rd. I still have a little, but am continuing with 3 & 4 above.

My wellness clinic is The Rosenthal Clinic 122 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60603 (312) 939-4121. If you are not in the area, they might be able to work with you over the phone and send you supplements. They have HIGH integrity and skill. Because of their care and health recommendations, I have been able to manage throughout my cancer treatment much easier than I thought.

You also can research my suggestions - we were able to find information about the items. Rosenthal helped fine tune dose and suppliers.

Hope this helps. Best to you Gail!

Footdoc answered...


You are correct that electrical stim can be helpful for neuropathy pain. Depending on the area you are in do a search for any of the following modalities that may be available through a local phycisian: 1) Micro-Vas, www.microvas.com, 2) www.rebuildermedical.com 3)Soft tissue laser, specifically the LiteCure LCT-1000, www.litecure.com

There are actualy many other treatment modalities available for neuropathy treatment. Just search for chemotherapathy and neuropathy, which I am sure you have already done, and should find quite a few practical, medical solutions that should help. Just FYI, I am a practicing podiatrist in the Sacramento, CA area nad have seen very good results with the soft tissue laser. Ther rebuilder site noted above might also be a very viable option for you. I have used a very similar product in the past for diabetics that was quite effective.

Best of luck. Dr. David Kahan

Claire21 answered...

Dr. Feinberg mentioned B6 as a possible treatment for neuropathy, but my neurologist just advised me to reduce any B6 because in here opinion it INDUCES neuropathy. I'm confused about the contradiction. My PN did not come as a result of chemotherapy (although I did have radiation) and at this time it is only on the bottoms of my feet. I read elsewhere on the net that 100 or more mg of B6 might cause problems, and my doc said I should not take even 25-50 mg. Sadly, she had no recommendations related to nutrition or supplements, just drugs. I hope yours reduces over time and wish you continued healing Gail.

Lorianne answered...

I completed 16 rounds of chemo, lumpectomy, and 4 weeks of radiation in mid December. I also have neuropathy in both hands and feet from the chemo. My oncologist just does not seem that interested; I complained about this throughout and he just kept asking me if I had fallen. No, and I guess that's all he cared about. The neuropathy has steadily been getting worse; so rather than go to that dry well again, I have just recently had a second opinion kind of consultation with a neurologist--one of his specialties is neuropathy. After running me through various tests, he said that there were medications I could take, but he has found that a B-vitamin complex can be very helpful in many patients. He wants me to take one a day for a month and see him again. He told me just to go to any drug store and pick up any brand of B complex, the highest dose they have, and take one a day. It has been about a week and I can actually feel some improvement already. Hugs and prayers to all who are going through this.

Bookscape answered...

I have also been researching alternatives as the gabapentin (which seems to be the prevailing treatment for neuropathy) scared the stuffin' out of me with the side effects. I read a study (wish I had printed it out) that said that B1 (benfotiamine version) had good results. Someone else told me they were slated for carpal tunnel surgery and they were told to take B6 three times a day; not more than 50 mg at a time. (That was the trick with that one). She said the carpal tunnel subsided after a couple of weeks. It did the same with her father as well. No surgery. Also a diabetic patient who works at a Wal-Mart store (on her feet for 8 hours) uses turmeric in her food and she says it helps. I am trying these, because I want things that will help me, not mask the burning with mind fog. Any other ideas I will check out as well. I have been taking the vitamins for less than a week and been totally off the gabapentin for about 4 days. (I had to decrease it gradually... another red flag, imho.) BTW while my A1C was a little elevated, I am not considered diabetic, but you can bet I have tried to cut my sugar intake way down. My lips haven't touched a candy bar in almost a month, LOL. My dad had late onset diabetes and both of my brothers are diabetic, so it's in the family. I also have not had chemo, but neuropathy is neuropathy and it's discouraging, especially if you still have to work full time for a couple more years before retiring and you're on your feet most of the time (elementary school librarian in a 1000+ student school.) I always took my feet for granted....