Cure Nerve Pain Caused by HIV or Cancer

Cure Nerve Pain Caused by HIV or Cancer Leave a comment

Nearly one-third of HIV / AIDS patients are estimated to experience some peripheral nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy may be triggered by the virus itself, by certain drugs used to treat HIV / AIDS or other complications, or by opportunistic infections (e.g., cytomegalovirus[ CMV], candidiasis[ thrush], herpes, tuberculosis) in patients with HIV / AIDS. Other associated causes, such as heavy alcohol consumption and vitamin deficiency, could also result in neuropathy.

HIV Neuropathy Symptoms 

AIDS and HIV peripheral neuropathy symptoms are usually experienced in patients with burning, stiffness, prickling, tingling, and numbness or loss of sensation in the toes and feet sole. Sometimes it also affects the nerves in the fingers, arms, and wrists. While relatively rare, there may be more serious nerve damage in pain above the ankles.

HIV / AIDS Drugs that can cause peripheral neuropathy 

Neuropathy is a potential side effect of some drugs used to treat HIV / AIDS. More commonly associated with peripheral neuropathy are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), or “d-drugs.” 

This drug class is composed of:

  • ddI: Didanosine, Videx®
  • ddC: Zalcitabine, Hivid®
  • d4T: Stavudine, Zerit®

Certain types of NRTIs (3TC[ Epivir ®, AZT[ Retrovir ®], and abacavir[ Ziagen ®] together with non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) and protease inhibitors are not generally associated with peripheral neuropathy.

Hydroxyurea (Droxia ®, Hydrea ®), a cancer-related drug that may also help certain anti-HIV drugs work better, appears to increase the risk of peripheral neuropathy 

Other drugs used to treat HIV-related disorders that may increase the likelihood of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Dapsone, used for pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
  • Isoniazid, (INH, Nydrazid®), used to treat tuberculosis
  • Metronidazole (Flagyl®), used to treat amoebic dysentery and microsporidiosis
  • Vincristine (Oncovin®), used for Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Thalidomide used to treat cancers, wasting syndrome and severe mouth ulcers
  • Ethambutol (Myambutol®), used to treat Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and other bacterial infections

Peripheral neuropathy caused by these drugs can often be treated with a decrease in dose or removal of the medication. Although it may take several months for the nerves to heal completely after these procedures have been stopped, within a few weeks the patient may begin to feel better. The nerve damage may be permanent in extreme cases.

HIV Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms & Signs

(Not all symptoms and signs may be present.)

  • Mild-to-severe pain
  • Sensations in feet and toes, including:
  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Stiffness

Evaluation & Tests

(Not all evaluation and tests may be necessary.)

For peripheral neuropathy:

  • Neurological exam
  • Electromyography
  • Nerve conduction velocity test

For HIV/AIDS:

  • Blood tests

Treatment & Therapy

(Not all treatments and therapies may be indicated.)

  • Discontinue drugs that cause peripheral neuropathy
  • Institute non-drug treatments to reduce pain, such as:
  • Avoiding extended periods of standing or walking
  • Wearing looser shoes
  • Soaking feet in ice water
  • Maintain adequate nutrition
  • Pain medication
  • Take safety measures to compensate for the loss of sensation
  • Ask your doctor about special therapeutic shoes (which may be covered by Medicare and other insurance

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