A study found that diabetic neuropathy, which results in nerve loss, can cause discomfort and numbness, most frequently in the hands and feet. Over 25% of the 37 million Americans who have diabetes suffer from the painful illness known as diabetic neuropathy. "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.
Two hundred and sixteen participants with painful diabetic neuropathy symptoms that were unresponsive to treatment for at least a year were included in the trial. For a period of six months, the other half of the participants also received routine medical care. Just standard medical care was provided to half. A change to the alternative treatment was available to patients after six months. For a total of two years, people were monitored.
A subcutaneously implanted device is used in spinal cord stimulation. In order to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain, the device stimulates the spinal cord electrically. After six months, the people who received stimulation reported 76% decrease in their average pain amount, while the people who did not receive stimulation had a 2% increase in their average amount of pain. In tests of their motor function, sensation and reflexes, improvements were seen in 62% of those receiving stimulation compared to 3% of those receiving medication only.
At six months, 93% of those eligible to cross over and receiving medicine only preferred to receive stimulation, while none of those receiving stimulation desired to receive medication only. The average amount of discomfort was found to have decreased by 80% after two years, while motor function, sensitivity, and reflexes had improved by 66% more.