Diabetic Neuropathy is a disorder which occurs in many patients who suffer from diabetes. This happens when nerve damage creates numbness in tissue, usually in the feet, or lower legs. In type one and two diabetes, this disorder is common, and can cause various complications, as well as ongoing pain. Sometimes, cases of neuropathy can also be found in the back, hips, and wrists. This will depend on whether the disorder is proximal, focal, or autonomic. Consultantive.com reports: “Researchers generally agree that TENS can provide sufficient relief of DPN pain, especially during initial use, although its long-term effectiveness is unclear. While some patients may experience enduring benefits, for others the analgesia may occur only during actual stimulation. Although definitive conclusions have been hampered by methodological inconsistencies in study design and small sample size, several recent reviews have looked at the efficacy of TENS for the relief of DPN.”
Treatment for neuropathy varies, depending on the level of numbness or pain which is encountered. Physiotherapy and medication is often necessary, although to handle the pain alone, recent studies have shown that transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can be quite successful.
Neuropathy Treatments Around The World
Neuropathy therapy is most commonly found in North America, although it has been branching out with more of the globe developing cases of type 2 diabetes. Obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and genetics can all play a factor in this disease, but ongoing research within the medical community is consistently working toward finding a cure as well as other treatments for both diabetes and neuropathy. Mad Gadget advises: “Increasing prevalence of diabetes cases, growing, aging population, rise in healthcare expenditure for diabetes, growing awareness about diabetes and related nerve complications, and rise in R&D activities in drug discovery and development are the key factors driving the global diabetic neuropathy market. However, high failure rate in clinical trials, stringent regulatory requirements, and longer approval time for drugs are some of the factors restraining the growth for global diabetic neuropathy market.”
This is not an issue where TENS is concerned, as the FDA approval has already been cleared in many countries, allowing individuals to utilize the devices for treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy safely and efficiently. This is usually considered secondary to pharmaceutical treatments and other more invasive methods of controlling the pain associated with the disorder.
Before using TENS to treat DNP, it is important to clear treatment with your physician. He or she will be able to advise you on which machine to purchase, but also on how to use it. Unfortunately, some cases of diabetic neuropathy can leave physical external wounds on the skin. TENS electrodes cannot be used over open sores or cuts, as it can cause damage to the skin, burning, or bruising. TENS treatments are considered highly safe, but any medical treatment that is used incorrectly can have negative side effects, which is why doctor supervision is suggested for the first use. Physicians Weekly writes: “Patients using the device describe the stimulation as a buzzing or light pressure sensation that fades into the background of daily activities. They appreciate the control that the system provides and prefer the “on-demand” initiation of therapy plus the ease in which they can adjust stimulation intensity. Many patients have commented on the benefits of the device for nighttime chronic pain that interrupts sleep.”
New machines outfitted specifically for neuropathy patients are different than the larger machines for at home use. These are often quite small and include less wires, allowing them to be used on the go and be strapped directly to the knee, ankles, or anywhere else it needs to be to manage pain appropriately.
Benefits Of TENS
Rather than using medications which could cause allergic reactions and other side effects, or invasive procedures such as surgery, TENS makes it possible for patients to gain pain relief safely. Many people who deal with symptoms of diabetes are already taking some form of medication or other treatments to control the disease. TENS provides care that can be applied to pain as needed without adding unnecessary chemicals to the system. Healthline explains: “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation may result in instant or prolonged pain relief. Through the release of endorphins and the control of nerves, TENS sends relief directly to the site of pain. Some patients experience permanent pain relief after repeated sessions with a TENS unit. Others need TENS therapy for a prolonged period of time. The effectiveness ranges by condition and intensity of treatment.”
These devices are also designed for travel and use at work, in a doctor clinic, or at home. The units require a prescription, especially for specialized cases like that of diabetic neuropathy. For less specific causes of pain, some units require no prescription, but operate with a lower level of electric impulse.