Patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disorder, could have their pain eased thanks to spinal cord stimulation.
What is diabetic peripheral neuropathy?
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy affects different nerves in the nervous system and can result in shooting pains, muscle weakness and numbness. In the UK, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy.
Dutch researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre have found success from spinal cord stimulation in over half their patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
They conducted a multicentre randomised clinical trial among 36 patients who had previously not responded to therapy to help their severe lower limb pain .
Trial stimulation was successful in 77 per cent of patients who received a combination of spinal cord stimulation and the best medical treatment, with 41 per cent reporting pain relief during the daytime.
Only a 7 per cent success rate was found in the group who had the best medical treatment, but no spinal cord stimulation.
Therapy risks
“Our findings show that in diabetic peripheral neuropathy patients, spinal cord stimulation in combination with best medical treatment results in clinically relevant pain relief over a 6-month period,” the researchers wrote.

However, they also acknowledged that the therapy carries risks, with “the most common complications related to infection, subcutaneous hematomas and cerebrospinal fluid leak”.
Spinal cord stimulation is invasive, and patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy should only receive the treatment as a last resort and conducted by specialists, the researchers concluded.

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