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Spinal Cord Stimulation May Help Alleviate Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms



Diabetes-related nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy, can result in pain and numbness, most commonly in the hands and feet, according to a new study. About 25% of the 37 million diabetic Americans suffer from diabetic neuropathy, a painful condition.

“Diabetic neuropathy often results in poor quality of life, depression, anxiety and impaired sleep, and the available medications can be ineffective for many people or have side effects that people can’t tolerate,” said study author Erika Petersen, MD, of the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. “These results are exciting because there is an urgent need for more effective therapies.”

The review affected 216 individuals who had difficult diabetic neuropathy symptoms for at least one year that were not responding to medications. Half of the people got spinal cord stimulation plus regular medical treatment for six months. Half obtained only regular medical treatment. People could switch to the other treatment after six months. Two years were spent following people.

A device is inserted under the skin for spinal cord stimulation. In order to block pain signals from reaching the brain, the device applies electrical stimulation to the spinal cord.

Following a half year, individuals who got excitement detailed 76% reduction in their average pain amount, while individuals who didn’t get stimulation had a 2 percent increment in their average amount of pain. 62% of people who received stimulation showed improvements in tests of their motor function, sensation, and reflexes, compared to 3% of people who received only medication.

A total of 93% of those getting medicine just and qualified to get over decided to get the stimulation following a half year, while none of those getting the excitement needed to just get medication.

People reported that their average level of pain had decreased by 80% after two years, and motor function, sensation, and reflexes had continued to improve in 66% of the cases.

Because they were ineffective, none of the participants had their devices taken away. The device-related infections affected eight people. According to Petersen, this is within the range that has been reported for individuals receiving spinal cord stimulation for other conditions, with three of those recovering and five people, or 3%, having their devices removed due to infection.

Petersen also made the observation that high-frequency stimulation appears to be more effective than low-frequency stimulation at relieving pain. Additionally, unlike low-frequency stimulation, high-frequency stimulation does not induce the “pins and needles” sensation.

“This study demonstrates that high-frequency stimulation provides long-term pain relief with acceptable safety,” Petersen said. “The improvements in motor function, sensation and reflexes suggest that this therapy could have disease-modifying potential.”

Petersen said, “Confirmation of results through studies in larger groups of people could further strengthen our understanding of this spinal cord stimulation therapy for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy.”

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