FAQs on Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment in Oklahoma
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs in people with diabetes. This damage makes it hard for nerves to carry message to the brain and other portions of the body. Diabetic neuropathy is a very painful condition, and it affects around 26% of people who are afflicted with diabetes mellitus.
What are the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy can cause:
- Numbness, tingling, and burning in the fingers, hands, toes, or feet
- Muscle weakness and problems walking
- Sores, cuts, or blisters that heal slowly
- Digestive problems (abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea)
- Bladder problems (urinary incontinence)
What causes diabetic neuropathy?
In a person with diabetes, high levels of glucose in the blood will damage the blood vessels and nerves of the extremities. The nerve damage causes pain, and poor blood flow results in blisters and wounds.
How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?
The doctor will assess your bloodwork studies and do some additional examination techniques. These include:
- Filament test- Tests sensitivity to touch using a soft nylon fiber (monofilament).
- Nerve conduction studies – This test measures how the nerves in the legs and arms respond to electrical signals.
- Electromyography (EMG) – This test is often used along with the nerve condition studies. It measures electrical discharges produce by the muscles.
- Quantitative sensory testing – This test assesses how the nerves respond to vibration and temperature changes.
How is diabetic neuropathy treated?
At present, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. However, treatment focuses on promotion of health and lifestyle changes. For the pain, treatment options are:
- Pain medications – Ultram or an opioid pain reliever.
- Anticonvulsants – Neurontin, carbamazepine, pregabalin, and other seizure medications are being used to treat nerve-related pain.
- Antidepressants – Amitriptyline, duloxetine, desipramine, imipramine, and venlafaxine have shown benefit in treating diabetic neuropathy. In addition, newer agents are working well, such as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
- Physical therapy – The therapist uses ultrasound and other treatments to improve blood flow to the extremities.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – This is a small battery-powered device that is worn outside the body. Small wires run from the unit to electrodes placed over the skin. Safe, painless electrical impulses are delivers to specific nerve pathways through the electrodes which interfere with pain signal transmission.
- Acupuncture – This is an ancient Chinese remedy that involves insertion of fine needles into the skin. This restores energy and alleviates pain.
- Stem cell therapy – Some pain management specialists and other doctors are using stem cell injections to treat painful diabetic neuropathy. The stem cells transform into nerve cells and blood vessel tissue, which replaces the injured or damaged cells.
Does stem cell therapy work?
In a recent study, animal subjects with diabetic neuropathy were treated with injections of mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow. Researchers found that the animals experienced angiogenesis (blood vessel regrowth) and nerve re-myelination (new nerve myelin growth) after injections of stem cells.
How does stem cell therapy work?
Researchers have been investigating stem cell injections in mice subjects. Through lumbar puncture, the stem cells were injected into the spinal fluid. Imaging tests show that the stem cells migrated to the site of nerve injury where they were still residing four weeks after therapy. When researchers evaluated anti-inflammatory molecules of the mice, they found that TGF-β1 was present in higher amounts in the spinal fluid of the stem cell-treated animals. This protein is secreted by immune cells in the body.
- Chan, J. W.; Choi, D.; Lee, M. Y.; Huh, Y. H.; Yoon, Y-S. (2015). Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells improve diabetic neuropathy by direct modulation of both angiogenesis and myelination in peripheral nerves. Cell Transplant.
- Davies M, Brophy S, Williams R, & Taylor A (2006). The Prevalence, Severity, and Impact of Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 29(7): 1518-1522.