Categories: Articles Pain Management Psychiatry

Managing Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes. Recent esti­mates show that DPN affects approximately 50% of people with diabetes in the United States. Painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) has been defined as the clinical scenario in which neuropathic pain arises as a direct consequence of DPN. About 25% of people with diabetes will get PDN.

Current Options

Several prescription medications are available for DPN and may provide a degree of pain relief, but these agents can potentially cause side effects. Another option for PDN is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With TENS, low-voltage electrical currents are delivered directly to the area of pain or at pressure points. Clinical studies assessing the efficacy of TENS have shown encouraging results for pain relief. Unfortunately, traditional TENS systems consist of general purpose devices with cables and electrodes that are often not compatible with an active lifestyle.

A Simple, Convenient Therapy

The Sensus Pain Management System (developed by NeuroMetrix, Inc.) was cleared by the FDA for use by patients suffering from chronic pain, including PDN. The system is a lightweight, self-contained TENS device that is configured to patients’ unique physiology. In contrast to general purpose TENS, Sensus is simple and convenient. It’s worn discretely under clothing below the knee and without wires or complex controls. Patients initiate a 60-minute therapy session with the push of a button. Pain relief typically begins within 15 minutes and often lasts for 30 minutes following the session. In addition, Sensus is the only TENS device cleared by the FDA for use during sleep. The device provides a continuous mode delivering a therapy session every other hour for pain control during sleep.

Positive Patient Response

Sensus has provided encouraging results in various clinical settings. 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 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.

Another positive feature of Sensus is that it can either complement medications or be prescribed alone. The device can be effective as monotherapy when clinical assessments indicate that pain medications are not well tolerated or are ineffective. The system serves as another safe and effective treatment option to help patients suffering from PDN to get the pain relief they need and restore quality of life.

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