Neurofeedback Reduces Pain from Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Chronic CIPN is a common side effect of chemotherapy that appears a month after treatment for cancer.

The use of neurofeedback was found to decrease chronic pain and increase the quality of life for cancer patients with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

Chronic CIPN is a common side effect of chemotherapy that appears a month after treatment and affects about 71% to 96% of patients.

“Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is very common in cancer patients and there is currently only one medication approved to treat it,” said lead study investigator, Sarah Prinsloo, PhD. “I'm encouraged to see the significant improvements in patient's quality of life after treatment. This treatment is customized to the individual, and is relatively inexpensive, non-invasive and non-addictive.”

Researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center enrolled 71 patients with all cancer types in the study. These patients were at minimum, 3 months post chemotherapy and were a 3 on the National Cancer Institute's neuropathy rating scale.

Participants were given assessments that determined brain activity related to pain, pain perception, and quality of life.

The participants were then randomized to receive either neurofeedback or were put into a control group who did not receive treatment.

Those put in the neurofeedback group had 20 sessions of neurofeedback training, which involved playing a computer game that rewarded participants when they modified their brainwave activity in the affected area.

Next, participants learned how to modify their brainwave activity without receiving an immediate reward from the game.

Once treatment was completed, participants repeated the EEG and assessments to determine any changes in quality of life, cancer-related symptoms, and pain perception.

The EEG patterns showed cortical activity that was characterized by increased activation in the parietal and frontal sites compared with the normal population.

The results of the study showed that after controlling for baseline levels, neurofeedback significantly reduced pain that interfered with daily activities, as well as numbness, pain intensity and unpleasantness.

These findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Colorado, found a 73% improvement in pain and quality of life. Patients with CIPN also showed specific and predictable EEG signatures that changed with neurofeedback.

A second study is currently in the works and will focus on breast cancer patients who have neuropathy.