The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Diabetes Care: How TENS Can Help You Treat Your Neuropathy

Posted by on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

The term “Peripheral Neuropathy” refers to peripheral nervous system damage. Like static on a phone line, this vast sensory information highway distorts and interrupts connections between the body and the brain when nerves are damaged. Did you know there are over 100 types of peripheral neuropathy — each with its own set of symptoms, development and prognosis?

Who Suffers From Neuropathy?

Most of the time, we see peripheral neuropathy of the feet in people with diabetes. Nearly a third of diabetics suffer from peripheral neuropathy of some sort. Other candidates for neuropathy include people undergoing cancer treatments, people with bulging discs in their backs, or individuals who have suffered traumatic injury. Autoimmune disorders like lupus or arthritis, alcoholism, kidney or liver disease, and hypothyroidism may all cause neuropathy as well.

Symptoms of Neuropathy In Diabetes Patients

Symptoms may include:

– Numbness

– Tingling

– A pricking sensation

– Shooting pains

– Sensitivity to touch

– Trouble keeping balance

– Paralysis

– Burning pain at night

Often, people with diabetes suffer from ascending nerve damage, which starts in the feet and gradually progresses up both legs. The fingers, hands and arms may also become affected over time.

TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Peripheral neuropathy is a notoriously difficult condition to treat, but many patients are reporting reprieve from our TENS unit. During TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) treatment, electric pulses are sent across the skin surface and along the nerve strands, thus preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. By stimulating the nerves, the device also alerts the body to begin releasing endorphins — the body’s natural painkiller.

The overall success rate of treatment is around 80%, with four in five patients reporting that their symptoms were diminished or resolved. We feel that TENS is much better than prescribing medication like Lyrica or Cymbalta — which only mask the pain, rather than fixing the root cause of the problem (the damaged nerve endings).

This unit can also be used in combination with a local nerve block treatment like Marcaine in a procedure that is referred to as “Electrochemical Analgesia.” In one study, researchers found that two treatments of electrochemical analgesia administered for eight to 16 weeks produced long-lasting results for peripheral neuropathy sufferers. The synergistic treatment for peripheral neuropathy cleared out toxins, relaxed nerves, opened tissues up to greater oxygen and nutrient flow, healed inflammation and initiated a nerve regeneration process. Best of all, this treatment has been cleared by the FDA and is covered by Medicare, as well as all major health insurance companies.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.