Does neuropathy ever improve?

Some peripheral neuropathies develop slowly, over months or years, while others develop more quickly and continue to get worse. There are more than 100 types of neuropathies, and each type can develop differently. How the condition progresses and how quickly symptoms begin can vary greatly depending on the type of nerve or nerves damaged and the underlying cause of the condition. Peripheral nerves have a great healing capacity.

Although it may take months, a recovery can occur. However, in some situations, the symptoms of neuropathy may decrease but not go away completely. For example, nerve damage caused by radiation often does not recover well. Neuropathy caused by chemotherapy is also difficult to cure, and recovery can take from 18 months to 5 years or more.

During recovery from platinum-induced neuropathy, patients may suffer from increased symptoms. The good news for people living with neuropathy is that it is sometimes reversible. Simply by addressing contributing causes, such as underlying infections, exposure to toxins, or vitamin and hormone deficiencies, the symptoms of neuropathy often resolve on their own. There is no sure way to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (NPIC), but there are things you can do to manage your symptoms.

During treatment, the cancer care team will ask you about your symptoms and watch you to see if NPIC is getting worse. Your team may need to delay treatment, use smaller doses of chemotherapy drugs, or stop treatment with the drug that is causing NPIC until symptoms improve. These actions must be initiated immediately to avoid long-term damage that does not improve. Neuropathies often begin in the hands and feet, but other parts of the body can also be affected.