Doctors and physiotherapists have been using cold or heat for many years to treat infections and pain. Hilotherapy is a variation of this technique in which anatomical accessories resembling gloves and socks are placed on the hands and feet and then connected to a device that works with a closed water circulation circuit for the prevention of symptoms.
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
Although cancer treatments are used to cure or relieve symptoms, they can also come with some adverse effects. One of these is chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN)2.
When it appears, the patient may feel tingling or numbness in the hands and feet (gradually building up through the arms and legs), a twinge, burning, cramping, or a change in temperature sensitivity. It can also come in the form of severe pain that makes it difficult to perform everyday activities such as buttoning a shirt, counting coins, or walking. About 30% to 40% of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experience any of these symptoms.
Some chemotherapeutic agents usually cause more NPIQ compared to others. These are:
- Platinum compounds (cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin)
- Taxanes (docetaxel, paclitaxel)
The severity of NPIQ varies individually and depends on the number of drugs used and the duration of chemotherapy. The most important thing is that peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed early to be managed to ensure a good quality of life and, most importantly, to ensure that people do not interrupt their cancer treatment because of it.
Use of hilotherapy in oncology
There are some techniques directed to reduce the blood circulation in the regions affected by NPIQ during the infusion cycles of chemotherapy, promoting a decrease in the temperature of hands and feet and preventing the chemotherapeutic agent from penetrating the extremities.
Hilotherapy is considered one of the most modern and effective. The patient wears anatomical accessories on the hands and feet that are connected to a device that works with a closed circuit of water circulation. By decreasing the temperature of the tissue in contact with these protections, acting locally, the penetration of chemotherapeutic agents is blocked. This means that the drugs that cause the condition cannot reach these parts of the body, thus preventing the occasional loss of sensation in the hands and feet.
A recently published study evaluated the use of hilotherapy by individuals undergoing chemotherapy. It was able to prevent symptoms in 93% of the research participants. Four months after the end of chemotherapy, 98% of patients who used hilotherapy were well with no symptoms that limited their ability to perform their daily tasks, proving the benefits of this technology.