Neurofeedback reduces pain, increases quality of life for cancer patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced neuropathy

March 11, 2016, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

A new study from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center evaluating the use of neurofeedback found a decrease in the experience of chronic pain and increase quality of life in patients with neuropathic pain.

The study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, held March 9-12 in Denver, Colorado.

Study lead investigator Sarah Prinsloo, Ph.D., assistant professor Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson, identified the location of that contributes to the physical and emotional aspects of , which allowed patients to modify their own brain activity through electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback. EEG tracks and records brain wave patterns by attaching small metal discs with thin wires on the scalp, and then sending signals to a computer to record the results.

"Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is very common in cancer patients and there is currently only one medication approved to treat it. 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." Prinsloo said.

Chronic chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common side effect of chemotherapy, often affecting 71 to 96 percent of patients after a month of chemotherapy treatment. Peripheral neuropathy is a set of symptoms such as , burning, tingling and loss of feeling caused by damage to nerves that control the sensations and movements of our arms and legs.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new connections and change existing ones. This study demonstrated that induces neuroplasticity to modulate brain activity and improve CIPN symptoms.

The study enrolled 71 MD Anderson patients of all cancer types; all were at least 3 months post chemotherapy treatment and reported more than a three on the National Cancer Institute's neuropathy rating scale. Study participants completed assessments that determined the brain activity related to their pain, pain perception and quality of life. Those were then randomized to receive neurofeedback, or to a control group that did not receive treatment. Patients in the neurofeedback group attended 20 sessions of neurofeedback training where they played a computer game that rewarded them when they modified their brainwave activity in the affected area. They then learned to modify the activity without an immediate reward from the game.

After treatment was completed the participants repeated the EEG and assessments to determine changes in , cancer related symptoms and general quality of life. EEG patterns showed cortical activity characterized by increased activation in the parietal and frontal sites compared to a normal population. After controlling for baseline levels, neurofeedback significantly reduced: pain; numbness; intensity and unpleasantness, and reduced how much pain interfered with daily activities.

After , 73 percent saw improvement in their pain and quality of life. Patients with CIPN also exhibited specific and predictable EEG signatures that changed with neurofeedback.

Prinsloo believes the study results are clinically and statistically significant and provides valuable information that will allow for more understanding of .

A second study was recently funded and will focus exclusively on breast cancer experiencing neuropathy.

Explore further: Patients who are not prescribed opioids find more improvements in physical function, study

Related Stories

Patients who are not prescribed opioids find more improvements in physical function, study

January 22, 2016
Opioids such as morphine, codeine and Tylenol 3 can be effective for treating pain, however, a new University of Alberta study finds that patients with neuropathic pain taking opioids report no improvements in physical functioning ...

Medication duloxetine helps reduce pain from chemotherapy

April 2, 2013
Among patients with painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, use of the anti-depressant drug duloxetine for 5 weeks resulted in a greater reduction in pain compared with placebo, according to a study in the April ...

Terminology of chronic pain published

February 9, 2016
The Journal of Pain Research has published the commentary "Terminology of chronic pain: the need to "level the playing field".

Botox may reduce chronic neuropathic pain

February 9, 2016
(HealthDay)—Subcutaneous botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) injections appear to safely and effectively reduce chronic neuropathic pain in patients with spinal cord injury, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the ...

Antidepressant helps relieve pain from chemotherapy, study finds

June 4, 2012
The antidepressant drug duloxetine, known commercially as Cymbalta, helped relieve painful tingling feelings caused by chemotherapy in 59 percent of patients, a new study finds. This is the first clinical trial to find an ...

Acupuncture may ease severe nerve pain associated with cancer treatment

December 6, 2011
Acupuncture may help ease the severe nerve pain associated with certain cancer drugs, suggests a small preliminary study published in Acupuncture in Medicine.

Recommended for you

Researchers discover novel subtype of multiple sclerosis

August 21, 2018
Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered a new subtype of multiple sclerosis (MS), providing a better understanding of the individualized nature of the disease.

Dehydration alters human brain shape and activity, slackens task performance

August 21, 2018
When dehydration strikes, part of the brain can swell, neural signaling can intensify, and doing monotonous tasks can get harder.

'It's all in the eyes': The role of the amygdala in the experience and perception of fear

August 21, 2018
Researchers have long believed that the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, is central to the experience and perception of fear. Studies initiated in the 1990s of a patient with a rare condition affecting the ...

Study sheds light on how brain lets animals hunt for food by following smells

August 21, 2018
Most animals have a keen sense of smell, which assists them in everyday tasks. Now, a new study led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine sheds light on exactly how animals follow smells.

Powerful molecules provide new findings about Huntington's disease

August 21, 2018
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a direct link between the protein aggregation in nerve cells that is typical for neurodegenerative diseases, and the regulation of gene expression in Huntington's disease. ...

Largest brain study of 62,454 scans identifies drivers of brain aging

August 21, 2018
In the largest known brain imaging study, scientists from Amen Clinics (Costa Mesa, CA), Google, John's Hopkins University, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Francisco evaluated 62,454 ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.