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cryotherapy gloves and slippers to prevent neuropathy?

Posts: 557
Joined: Oct 2018

Anyone have any experience or advice with this?  There was a recent study that came out that had people wearing them on their dominant side, and then compared the incidence of neuropathy from the side kept cold vs the side that wasn't kept cold.   Results showed that the cryotherapy DID help.   I would like to try this, but the gyn onc surgeon said that there wasn't sufficient evidence of it working.  From what I've read, a lot of people have this side effect right from the first round of chemo.

Anyone have advice?  Did it help?  Product you used?

Posts: 27
Joined: Jan 2018

I don’t know about the gloves and slippers but I did keep my hands and feet covered in thin surgical gloves and submerged in packages of frozen peas. This was the cheap way to attempt to get the same result. My oncologist recommended it to me based on some research she had read and on conversations she had had with other oncologists at a conference she attended. I had short term symptoms of neuropathy, (just a few hours), after rounds 3 and 4. I also was taking gabapentin tho which may have helped as well.

Posts: 557
Joined: Oct 2018

Thank you!  What a good idea.  I will do this, instead of waiting for the cryo gloves and slippers to be delivered.

EZLiving66's picture
Posts: 1479
Joined: Oct 2015

Do it!!! I only had three rounds of chemo and, three years later, have severe neuropathy in both feet.  It is painful and debilitating. I wish someone had told me this!! I certainly would have iced my feet and hands. 



Armywife's picture
Posts: 452
Joined: Feb 2018

As mentioned on another thread, I really do believe this helped me.  I bought simple hot/cold packs at Target, and froze them ahead - wrapped them in kitchen towels and secured with a big rubber band.  Budget, not fancy, but they were hidden under the warm blanket anyway.  Here's my feeling:  It may not be proven, but it can't possibly hurt.  It costs virtually nothing.  I don't see a downside.

Red Corvette
Posts: 114
Joined: Jan 2016

Mrs. Red had 4 rounds of carbo/platin chemo and we had her hands, feet, and head iced during each infusion. Used large gallon size plastic ziplock bags for her hands and feet in ice in small plastic tubs before and during chemo infusions. She had no neuropathy whatsoever. We used penguin cold caps fo her head and while her hair did thin out a lot, she kept hair which grew back after chemo was over right back to her original texture and length the same as before treatment. The theory of icing science is the carbotaxol part of the chemo attacks fast growing cells ie cancer cells. The cold from icing stops the chemo from attacking fast growing hair follicle cells and nerve ending cells in hands and feet. Icing is tough but doable and worked for Mrs. Red.
Red Corvette

Posts: 572
Joined: Oct 2009

Sadly, like Eldri I also wasn’ t offered cooling cap, gloves or socks. I do have neuropathy in my feet and fingertips. Having neuropathy is what reminds me everyday that I had cancer. Gamapentin didn’t help my symptoms. 

Insurance companies don’t pay for treatments that haven’t had double blind peer reviewed studies with significant #s of study participants ckear evidence of efficacy. Those types of studies are very expensive. Therefore it is unlikely that the cooling gloves or booties will ever be recognized, studied and reimbursed. The cooling cap for the head has been around for more than 10 years. Insurance companies may cover but most at this point in time would consider the loss of hair “cosmetic” and therefore not covered. 

Neuropathic pain is relentless and is invisible to all but the sufferer. Go for the frozen peas or what ever mechanism of cooling you can figure out and tolerate. I wish I had....


Posts: 557
Joined: Oct 2018

Thank you so much for all the useful information.  I would never have known about this, had I not found this website.

Posts: 9
Joined: Aug 2017

I had five rounds of chemo...which sandwiched 28 rounds of radiation. My last chemo was in mid March, 2017.  I never felt total numbness in my feet but it has gotten progressively worse since treatment ended.  The worst is at night.  My feet get HOT and lately I'm having shooting pains in my feet, ankles and calves.  Gabapentin never even touched it.  My cancer surgeon suggested Cymbalta but the side effects scared me too much especially since I live alone and have no one to rely on to help me if I had a severe reaction.

I wish I'd known or been advised to do the cold cap or soaking my feet in ice prior to and during chemo. 

Posts: 1153
Joined: Jun 2016

Have you tried Eldri's rememdy of Nyquil?  Otherwise try using the ice gel packs on your feet when you go to bed at night. That was the only way I got some sleep when I had the burning pain from neuropathy. You may have to have enough for changes during the night if the pain wakes you back up, but it may help you to get some sleep.

Posts: 557
Joined: Oct 2018

Follow up on the icing.  We tried nitrile gloves on hands, and thin socks and plastic bags on feet, putting hands into quart-sized containers of ice water, and feet into plastic shoe box sized containers filled with ice water.  It was too painful with mostly ice and a little water, so we used water and kept adding ice throughout to keep it as cold as I could stand it.  For the next time, I will not use any gloves or socks or plastic bags - I felt that it kept the ice water from effectively chilling the hands and feet continuously, almost like a wet suit effect, where the body warms the layer of air or water right next to the body, keeping it warm.  I will just put my naked feet and hands into the ice water, and keep wiggling the fingers and toes occasionally, and lifting the balls of my feet occasionally, to make sure the ice water circulates.

I did stay in the ice water for about half an hour after the infusions were over, and since they did the carboplatin last, that meant for an hour after the taxol was done.  But interestingly, I started to feel some twinges in my fingertips on the left hand after I got home, looked up the half life of Taxol, found out it has a very long half life.  So I put my hands and feet BACK in ice water at home, until about 10:30 PM when I went to bed.  And I slept in a cold room, with my hands and feet outside the blanket, that night.  So far, so good, but it's very early in the course of treatment.  But next time, no coverings, and I'm putting them right back in the ice for the rest of the evening, once I get home.  

So if anyone is thinking of doing this, no need for special materials.  Just plastic shoe box sized containers, quart sized plastic take out containers, and ice.  We found that the 16 lb bag was plenty.  Assuming you have someone there with you during the infusion, instruct them to keep adding ice if you fall asleep.  Incredibly, I fell asleep sitting up with my hands and feet in ice water, and my wonderful husband took off excess water and added ice every ten minutes or so.

I used a heating pad on my mid section, to stay warm, and I had a down comforter behind me on the infusion chair.  We tried an electric blanket, but it was getting in the water.  Next time, I think I will bring two heating pads, to cover more of my mid-section, but the one was enough to keep me warm and comfortable.

Armywife's picture
Posts: 452
Joined: Feb 2018

That's for sure some due diligence!  We were more low-key with our Target cold packs wrapped in kitchen towels and tied with rubber bands, but it got the job done.  I was not as tough as you and had to take some breaks during infusion, but still felt like we stayed chill enough, and never thought of iciing once we went home.  No neuropathy here - and I wish you the same!

LadyMox's picture
Posts: 56
Joined: Sep 2018

Are there other ideas besides freezing my feet and hands during chemo? not sure I could take that. While my fingers are mild it seems after my 3rd infusion my feet have gotten somewhat worst. I am taking B-vitamins, glutamine, and fish oil in hopes of it helping. My husband has been massaging my feet everyday and it seems to help some.

I wonder if getting a heated foot massage machine and using it during chemo would help? I am not sure if it would make it worst? I thought the reason we get neuropathy is because the lack of circulation in the extermities causes the chemicals to build up in our feet and fingers damaging the nerves. While I can see what cold would stop the chemicals from flowing into the feet, would increasing the circulation and heat encourage it to not settle and stick in the feet? Hmmm


Harmony09's picture
Posts: 79
Joined: Aug 2017

Hey Lady Mox :)

The theory behind the application of cold  packs is to constrict the blood vessels to restrict the blood flow, thus it limits the amount of chemo (given through the bloodstream) that gets to the tissues in the hands, feet, and head. Therefore, it seems to me that using heat would produce the opposite, worse effect by increasing circulation and perhaps even making the neuropathy worse :( It sure would be nice if we could do something soothing, or at least less painful, to prevent it :(

mother7's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2019

My earlier comments to this thread were lost in the site crash, so I'll recap.  After my first carbo/taxol infusion, I was in agony in my lower legs and feet for several days, with numbness and pins and needles in my hands as well. Then I found this thread, and for my second infusion last week, I was prepared with ice packs.  I also with my oncologist's permission added a daily B-Vitamin and Glutathione - and he gave me a prescription for Tramadol in case I had that severe pain again.  Second infusion went much better in terms of neuropathy.  I did have some twinges, and general achiness in my legs and joints for several days, but not enough to need the Tramadol, and I didn't miss work (I did take Tylenol for several days).  A week out from the infusion, I have no pain, and my hands and feet work normally, athough I still do have a kind of weird 'dull' feeling in both, kinda what you get after using a tool like a palm sander or lawn mower that vibrates... if that makes any sense.  This feeling never went away after that first infusion, so it's a hold-over from that... at least the icing and other things I did seem to have kept it from getting worse.  What I did, specifically:  For my hands, I bought a large insulated tote bag and cut it up, making two  square 'thumbless oven mitts' and a flannel liner.  I put two gell ice packs in each, and put my flannel-covered hand in between them.  I switched the ice packs out twice during the infusion, and started cooling after the premeds were started, and stopped after the carbo infusion was done.  For my feet, I bought a big soft-sided thermal lunchbox that was big enough for both my feet to fit into, and also got multiple sheets of reusable ice cubes from the camping department (its like the ice cubes in blister packs that can be bent... these are a lot cheaper than gel packs).  I wore thin sock and arranged the ice cube sheets so they wrapped around my feet, and zipped it all up inside the insulated bag.  I didn't get as good contact with my feet as I did my hands, but it did seem to make a difference.  I've since discovered that you can get 'cold therapy' devices that circulate chilled water through various body-shaped attachments - the are sold for post-surgery recovery and for chronic conditions like arthritis and neuropathy.  You can a machine with 'boot' attachments that cover your feet and ankles for about $300... which isn't cheap, but to prevent permanent neuropathy I think's a bargain.  I wish I'd known to ice during my first infusion, because this 'dull' feeling in my fingers and feet is annoying. (At least it's not painful and I can still function normally.) To anyone reading this -- don't risk it -- chill your hands and feet if you're getting Taxol or any other chemo with a risk of neuropathy.

Posts: 557
Joined: Oct 2018

Since we lost info, I thought I'd post a follow up.  I've been icing my hands and feet by this method: I start off with my hands and feet in cold water in plastic containers.  I use plastic shoe boxes for the feet, and quart plastic takeout soup containers for the hands.  I begin when the last premed is running.  As I get used to the cold water, my husband adds ice as tolerated, and draws off some water as needed.  Usually I doze off at some point during the taxol infusion, and he keeps adding ice, just a few cubes, and drawing off water, about every ten minutes, during the infusion.  I try to keep going until the carbo and herceptin are done.  My hands and feet have no socks or gloves on them - they're bare.  I try to keep moving my hands and feet so that the cold water circulates around them.  Also, I bring a heating pad and keep it over my abdomen and pelvic area to keep myself warm.  If I didn't have the heating pad, I know I'd be freezing.

So far (5 rounds), this is working well.  I have no paresthesias, no pain.  I am a bit numb in the ball of my left foot, but I also had a neuroma removed from there about 16 yrs ago, so I had poor innervation to that area to begin with.  I've had occasional slight twinges in the days after chemo, but that's it.  Nothing permanent, thus far.

This method is tolerable.  You have control over how cold you make it.  It's cheap and easy.  However, you do need a partner to help you with adding ice and drawing off water.  For those who come ahead of us, I strongly urge you to do this beginning with the very first round of chemo.

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