Symptom management and self-care for peripheral neuropathy in HIV/AIDS

P. K. Nicholas, J. K. Kemppainen, G. E. Canaval, I. B. Corless, E. F. Sefcik, K. M. Nokes, C. A. Bain, K. M. Kirksey, L. Sanzero Eller, P. J. Dole, M. J. Hamilton, C. L. Coleman, W. L. Holzemer, N. R. Reynolds, C. J. Portillo, E. H. Bunch, D. J. Wantland, J. Voss, R. Phillips, Y. F. TsaiM. Rivero Mendez, T. G. Lindgren, S. M. Davis, D. M. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Peripheral neuropathy is the most common neurological complication in HIV and is often associated with antiretroviral therapy. As part of a larger study on self-care for symptoms in HIV disease, this study analyzed the prevalence and characteristics of peripheral neuropathy in HIV disease, sociodemographic and disease-related correlates and self-care strategies. A convenience sample of 1,217 respondents was recruited from data collection sites in several US cities, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Taiwan. Results of the study indicated that respondents with peripheral neuropathy (n=450) identified 20 self-care behaviors including complementary therapies, use of medications, exercise and rest and/or elevation of extremities. Ratings of frequency and effectiveness were also included. An activities checklist summarized into five categories of self-care behaviors including activities/thoughts, exercise, medications, complementary therapies and substance was used to determine self-care behaviors. Taking a hot bath was the most frequent strategy used by those with peripheral neuropathy (n=292) and received the highest overall rating of effectiveness of any self-management strategies included in this study at 8.1 (scale 1-10). Other self-care strategies to manage this symptom included: staying off the feet (n=258), rubbing the feet with cream (n=177), elevating the feet (n=236), walking (n=262), prescribed anti-epileptic agent (n=80), prescribed analgesics (n=84), over-the-counter medications (n=123), vitamin B (n=122), calcium supplements (n=72), magnesium (n=48), massage (n=156), acupuncture (n=43), reflexology (n=23) and meditation (n=80). Several behaviors that are often deemed unhealthy were included among the strategies reported to alleviate peripheral neuropathy including use of marijuana (n=67), cigarette smoking (n=139), drinking alcohol (n=81) and street drugs (n=30).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-189
Number of pages11
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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