chemotherapy and leg weakness

Chemotherapy and Leg Weakness

Hiya, could do with a bit of help! My mum is currently going through chemotherapy and has dvt, she’s having daily injections for blood thinning (one they’ve said she’ll have to have for life!) Her legs have swollen and are back to normal but her thighs are still heavy. This is the only thing keeping her housebound, weakness in legs. She wants to build up the strength in her legs, what exercises can she do?

Chemotherapy can attack good cells

Yes, chemotherapy is pretty much like drinking poison. It can attack the good cells as well as the cancer cells.
Cognition is affected causing difficulty with memory.
Our hands and feet can show symptoms of tingling and numbness.
Our mouth can become dry leading to mouth sores.
Feeling of nausea are common.
Diarrhea and dehydration may occur.
We can become anemic as our blood can’t make enough red blood cell.
We can become neutropenic with a reduced ability to fight infections.
Our heart may become weak with irregular beats.
Our skin can become dry and irritated
Our bones can become weak and fragile.

This generally leads to poor appetite, decreased nutrition, low energy, and muscle loss.
No wonder our legs can become weak!

First, check with your doctor or registered dietitian for recommendations concerning your diet if you have chemotherapy and leg weakness. Illnesses and treatment plans vary so you will want the best information.

Try to eat from all food groups, 3-6 times a day and drink plenty of water.

I remember when my mother was on chemotherapy and required lot’s of attention to pick foods she enjoyed and could tolerate. She loved mangos and tolerated them well during chemo, so we made sure she had plenty of fresh mangos to enjoy.

After getting your diet in order start in on some strength training. If you have not exercised in a while, then start with 2 leg exercises, one trunk exercise and 3 arm exercises. Here are some examples from my site.

 Eldergym Exercises

Leg exercises:

Sit to stand
Side hip raise

Trunk exercise:
Curl ups

Arm exercises:
Bicep curls
Overhead Extension
Upright rows

Start with 2 pounds for women, 5 pounds for men. Perform all exercises 3 times per week on non-consecutive days. Try 1 set of 10 repetitions each. Then slowly build up to 3 sets of repetition. When you are ready to move up in weight make sure you can safely perform at least 16 repetitions. Then you can safely lift more, or about 5% per week.

Coach Doug

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.