Patients with diabetes are at high risk for developing peripheral neuropathy. While the signs and symptoms of neuropathy can develop anytime someone has diabetes, the risk increases the longer they have it.
What Is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and What Causes It?
When the nerves in the feet are no longer able to communicate properly with the brain, peripheral neuropathy is the result. While many things can cause this communication breakdown, for the purposes of this blog we’ll be discussing diabetes and associated conditions.
How Does Diabetes Cause the Communication Breakdown?
While we don’t know all the ways diabetes acts to cause this breakdown, we do know about four key factors.
- High blood sugar or glucose – high blood sugars damage the small blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to nerve cells.
- Metabolic factors –patients with diabetes and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels are at increased risk for neuropathy.
- Inherited factors—some genetic factors can increase the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
- Pain or shooting pain, often worse at night
- Numbness or loss of sensation in their feet
Other Problems Resulting from Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
- Foot ulcers--When people can’t feel sensation in their feet, they’re much more likely to develop foot ulcers. Foot ulcers are the primary reason for amputation.
- Problems with walking and loss of balance--lack of feeling in the feet can also cause problems with walking, loss of balance, and falling. People at high risk for falls are more likely to fracture their hip and become hospitalized.
Treatment for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Up until now, podiatrists and other physicians have only been able to treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy with medication, topicals, and lifestyle changes. While these treatments have their place, they can’t reverse the nerve damage caused by this condition. Less than half of patients who take these medications report any satisfactory pain relief. In addition, many of the medications used to treat neuropathy are addictive (eg. Opioids) and have other unwanted side effects.
Fortunately, there is a new treatment available for patients suffering from this condition. For the past three years our office has successfully treated plantar fasciitis, old injuries, neuromas, and non-union fractures with MLS laser therapy. Now we are also using it to treat our patients with peripheral neuropathy.
What Is MLS Laser Therapy?
MLS Laser Therapy is an advanced laser technology that works to eliminate pain and reduce inflammation in the foot and ankle without the use of painful injections or potentially habit-forming drugs. There are no known side-effects.
MLS Laser Therapy changes light into energy. When this energy penetrates deep into your tissue it increases the blood supply and circulation. As a result, your tissue can heal itself at the cellular level.
Comprehensive MLS Laser Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy
MLS Laser Treatment: Treatment of peripheral neuropathy with MLS laser therapy must occur over time to be effective. Our office provides an initial series of 12 MLS laser therapy treatments (2 treatments a week for 6 weeks). The laser treatment effects are cumulative.
Following the initial phase, the Foot and Ankle Center provides one treatment a month for 12 months for a total of 24 treatments.
Supplementation: Patients receive 2 bottles of NeuRemedy Plus supplements which will last for three months. This supplement supports the healthy functioning of the nerves in the feet and legs. The key ingredient is benfotiamine.
Education for Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Patients will also receive education about important lifestyle changes and will receive monthly emails about topics such as how to eat a balanced diet, quit smoking, and start or maintain an exercise program.
How Effective is MLS Laser Therapy in Treating Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Podiatrists and other providers around the U.S. are having success reducing pain in their patients with neuropathy with MLS Laser Therapy. Several studies have shown effective treatment with low-level lasers, such as MLS. These studies stand out for their ability to improve nerve function by:
- Increasing growth proteins
- Increasing transforming growth factors
- Activating nerve cells
These lasers can also reduce pain and inflammation by:
- Improving cellular metabolism
- Improving ATP synthesis (increases energy in the cells)
- Reduction of prostaglandins (hormone that causes pain and inflammation)
One study reduced pain from 6.3 to 3.9 on a ten-point scale. This study was performed on 40 subjects aged 40-60 with type 2 diabetes mellitus of greater than 10 years with associated symmetric distal diabetic polyneuropathy. (Anders et al. Laser in Surgery and Medicine, 1993 13:72-82)
In another study, 30 participants had increased microcirculation to the toes with a 26.4%
decrease in pain after four weeks of treatment. (Amany, Journal of Advanced Research Vol.3
Issue 1 Jan. 2012 21-28)
Need Relief From the Pain of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy in Seattle, Washington? Request an Appointment Now
Don't let diabetic peripheral neuropathy or other painful foot conditions cause you to miss out on the activities you enjoy. Complete the contact form on this page or call our office at 206-368-7000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Berg.
Most new patients are seen within 1-2 week's time. During your initial visit, Dr. Berg will spend up to 30 minutes getting to know you, your podiatry complaints, and your goals so that he can recommend the treatment best meets your needs. Don’t wait—contact us today.
North Seattle Foot & Ankle Specialist Dr. Rion Berg offers compassionate podiatry care for all foot and ankle problems to those living in Seattle Washington and the surrounding areas. Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an immediate appointment or request an appointment online.