About one-in-three patients with diabetes also suffer from diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). This condition causes symptoms, including itching or burning pain, numbness, and paresthesia (pins and needles). The pain caused by DPN is often chronic, debilitating, and difficult to effectively treat using conventional methods, such as prescription medication. Here’s the good news:
There is a new, advanced, FDA approved, minimally-invasive therapy for DPN that patients can choose without risking side-effects from potentially addictive prescription drugs.
Why does diabetic peripheral neuropathy cause pain?
The pain is caused by prolonged high blood sugar, which, over time, deposits triglycerides on nerve sheaths. These deposits damage the nerves, causing pain. Patients most commonly experience pain in the feet and legs, but they may also experience symptoms in the hands and arms. If you are a diabetic and experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact a doctor as soon as possible:
● Burning pain
● Pins and needles (paresthesia)
● Abrupt, unexplained temperature changes
● Sharp pain or cramps
For some diabetics, these symptoms are mild to moderate. For many others, the pain is debilitating. Often, symptoms feel more intense at night, leading to sleep loss. In some cases, sensitivity related to DPN makes any contact with the skin of the lower legs and feet painful. And, if left untreated, the condition may lead to ulcers and infections.
The progression of this pain may be slowed with proper blood sugar management and a healthier lifestyle. However, the nerve damage cannot be reversed with a healthy lifestyle. The pain develops gradually, and many people may not even notice symptoms until the damage is already significant.
Seeking diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible can make a huge difference. In fact, if you have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, even if you are not yet experiencing DPN symptoms, the American Diabetes Association recommends annual screenings.
Diagnosing and treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Diagnosing diabetic peripheral neuropathy begins with a physical exam and a conversation about the patient’s symptoms and medical history. During the exam, the physician will assess the person’s sensitivity to touch, reflexes, and muscle strength. If DPN is suspected, the doctor may also conduct further sensory or nerve testing.
There is currently no known cure for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Traditionally, treatment focuses on three goals:
● Slowing disease progression
● Restoring function
● Relieving pain symptoms
Finding relief from diabetic neuropathy pain
Until recently, the only treatment for pain was medication, and many patients do not experience significant pain relief with medication therapy alone. Worse, these drugs often have side-effects including fatigue, dizziness, and drowsiness. These side-effects decrease patients’ quality of life and may impair their ability to care for themselves.
Fortunately, the FDA has approved a minimally-invasive, outpatient procedure that significantly helps the majority of people with diabetic pain find relief.
How SCS delivers long-term relief from DPN pain
Spinal cord stimulation has been delivering relief to patients suffering from nerve pain for more than two decades. Because of this history of success, researchers have been studying the benefits of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for patients with pain from diabetic peripheral neuropathy for some time. Based on the strength of more than a decade of success treating DPN symptoms with spinal cord stimulation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved using SCS to treat chronic pain due to diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Read: What is SCS and how does it work?
In studies, the majority of patients who received spinal cord stimulation to treat symptoms related to diabetic peripheral neuropathy reported “significant” or “excellent” pain relief, and many reported relief lasting several years. Thanks to spinal cord stimulation, these patients are experiencing relief from DPN pain and regaining lost quality of life without risking the side-effects that often come with prescription drugs.
If you are interested in learning more about how spinal cord stimulation relieves diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain, click here to make an appointment for a consultation today.