CIPN & Hand-Foot Syndrome

What are CIPN & Hand-Foot Syndrome (HFS) and how do they develop?

Peripheral nerve damage can develop as a result of exposure to taxanes, platinum derivatives, 5-FU and other chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer. This condition and its side effects are known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Side effects of peripheral neuropathy are often felt in the hands and feet and can cause severe pain and discomfort; affecting a patient’s balance, dexterity – and even their ability to walk. Tingling, numbness and burning are also common symptoms of CIPN.

Hand-foot syndrome (HFS) is a dermatological condition that primarily affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It occurs as chemotherapeutic agents penetrate the hands and feet through the capillaries and cause damage to exposed tissue. Symptoms of HFS include redness, numbness, swelling, blistering and dry, peeling skin. Those with more severe symptoms may lose their nails and experience intense pain in their hands and/or feet.

Up to 10% of patients receiving chemotherapy develop severe symptoms of polyneuropathy and hand-foot syndrome, and those suffering may need to reduce their dosage, make changes to their treatment plan or stop treatment altogether.

Primary Cooling: How Can Hilotherapy Prevent CIPN & HFS?

Lowering a patient’s tissue temperature will slow their blood circulation and metabolism and prevent the chemotherapeutic agents from penetrating the capillaries in their hands and feet. For example, dropping the tissue temperature down by 10°C can reduce the metabolic rate by 50%. Hilotherapy is an effective way to do this, as it allows the localised tissue temperature of the hands and feet to be configured to an individual value so that they can both be kept constantly cool. Unlike traditional methods of cooling, Hilotherapy can be used for hours or even days at a time without temperature deviation.

A recent study of patients at the Luisenkrankenhaus in Dusseldorf showed that patients who used Hilotherapy as a preventative method did not develop any Level 2 (moderate) or Level 3 (severe) symptoms of HFS or CIPN. 4 weeks after their chemotherapy ended, 70% of patients who used Hilotherapy had no symptoms at all. The other 30% of patients were found to have Level 1 (mild) symptoms.

When used alongside a patient’s chemotherapy treatment (from the start), Hilotherapy can significantly reduce the risk of hand-foot syndrome and polyneuropathy.

Secondary Cooling: How Can Hilotherapy Alleviate Symptoms of CIPN & HFS?

Although primary cooling achieves the best outcome, our studies have shown that secondary cooling can reduce severe symptoms of CIPN and HFS. Before secondary cooling began, 61% of patients we studied were diagnosed with mild Level 1 symptoms, 33.30% with moderate Level 2 symptoms and 5.60% with severe Level 3 symptoms. Four weeks after their last chemotherapy session, 31.40% of patients who cooled with Hilotherapy had no symptoms at all, 54.30% had mild Level 1 symptoms, 11.40% had moderate Level 2 symptoms and 2.80% had severe Level 3 symptoms.

Device & Cuffs

The Hilotherm Chemocare device is fitted with two hand cuffs and two foot cuffs to cool hands and feet simultaneously during chemotherapy. Sensors ensure the temperature does not fluctuate during treatment.

Temperature range: +5 °C to +25 °C (can be selected in 1 °C increments)
Coolant: Distilled water
Dimensions: 430 x 275 x 268 mm
Weight (Empty): 10 kg
Weight (Full): 12 kg
Power supply: (230 V)

Get in Touch

If you would like to find out more information about how Hilotherapy can help you, please call us on 02476 323 372 or email

Research and Studies:
Hilotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy
- Dr. rer. nat. Trudi Schaper