Can Combined Electrochemical Treatment Have An Impact For Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

Cynthia Cernak, DPM, Robert H. Odell, MD, PhD, and Peter Carney, MD

In the United States and most developed countries, medical care focuses more on the treatment of acute disease than chronic diseases, even though chronic disease processes consume a large proportion of healthcare resources. Currently, we treat peripheral neuropathy, caused by diabetes and other processes, by controlling its symptoms and not healing damaged nerves. A new technique utilizing the principles of quantum mechanics allows damaged nerves and tissues to heal without the side effects associated with pharmaceutical agents.

   Peripheral neuropathy occurs as a component of several common and many rare diseases. It is heterogeneous in etiology, diverse in pathology and varied in severity. Peripheral neuropathy is often undervalued as a significant problem worldwide.

   Neuropathy due to diabetes and other causes is rampant in the U.S. population (more than 8 percent by some estimates) and projections suggest that it will become worse.1 Neuropathy, at least subclinically, is often the first sign of diabetes. Symptoms of other end organ damage may be less perceivable. Morbidity associated with neuropathy from diabetes, chemotherapy and other diseases is a major reason why patients seek medical care and is a huge cost to third-party payers in the U.S. and around the world. This nerve disease affects millions of people worldwide by causing multiple foot, ankle, hand, wrist and other muscular and skeletal disorders.

How Much Does Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Cost The Healthcare System?

The costs to the world economy are staggering. In the U.S. alone, the annual total direct medical and treatment costs of diabetes were an estimated $44 billion in 1997, representing 5.8 percent of total personal healthcare expenditures during that year.1 When it comes to diabetic peripheral neuropathy and its complications, management is resource intensive and long-term, accounting for a large proportion of this total expenditure. In 2001, the total annual cost of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and its complications in the U.S. was estimated to be between $4.6 and $13.7 billion.

   Up to 27 percent of the direct medical cost of diabetes may be attributed to diabetic peripheral neuropathy.1 These staggering figures only cover the annual cost of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which is believed to represent only 35 percent of the prevalence of overall peripheral neuropathy. Sixty-five percent of all the causes of peripheral neuropathy are not related to diabetes.

   Taken together, not only can diabetic and other types of peripheral neuropathy lead to tremendous debilitating complications (such as amputations, pain, numbness, loss of balance, sleep and strength, quality and length of life; and polypharmacy use), but they also account for significant overall morbidity and increased healthcare costs. Some studies have shown that the costs of caring for patients with diabetic neuropathy can be $7,000 more per year than caring for the patient with diabetes without neuropathy.2 We believe most of this cost goes toward symptom management, not pathophysiology reversal and nerve regrowth.

Surveying The Treatment Options For Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy develops well before the patient has any symptoms.1 The sooner treatment can begin, the greater the chances of reversing the symptoms. This is an endopathic disease of the microvascular circulation caused by dysfunctional glucose metabolism, having direct effects on the vessels feeding the nerves as well as the nerves themselves. Pain signals in turn trigger secondary peripheral and central hyperalgesia, which enhances the body’s response to the microvascular insult. Ephaptic transmission can generate painful dysesthesias and allow numbness to coexist with pain at the same locations. On a local level, microinflammation and edema around the nerves also contribute to neuropathy and diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome and neuromas.

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