Diagnosing Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

VIDEO | 06:00

Memorial Sloan Kettering occupational therapist Gabrielle Miskovitz explains that your doctor or therapist will first review your chemotherapy regimen, symptoms, and preexisting medical conditions to identify causes of peripheral neuropathy. Your specialist may then examine your skin for cuts and injuries, which can occur due to decreased sensitivity from neuropathy, and also evaluate your reaction to light touch, sensitivity to sharp and dull stimulation, finger muscle strength, reflexes, balance, and autonomic symptoms.

Some doctors recommend neurophysiologic tests such as electromyography, nerve conduction studies, and quantitative sensory tests to further examine peripheral nerve function, although findings from these tests do not always correspond with symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend laboratory and imaging tests to look for metabolic disturbances, nutritional deficiencies, and other possible causes of nerve damage.

Physical and occupational therapists may perform several additional tests to assess the impact of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy on your balance, stability, and fine motor skills. Based on this assessment, your therapists will help you determine your functional goals and select the appropriate therapy to reduce the risk of injury and improve your quality of life.