More than 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, and another 96 million are considered prediabetic. Now, consider that nearly 50% of people with diabetes develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy at some point during their lifetimes. What these numbers tell us is that millions of people are struggling with nerve pain, and they’re looking for solutions.

The team here at Spinal Diagnostics understands the need for treatment options for diabetic peripheral neuropathy, especially those that don’t entail taking potentially addictive medications.

To that end, we offer an innovative approach to relieving nerve pain due to diabetic peripheral neuropathy — neuromodulation.

Behind diabetic peripheral neuropathy

When you have diabetes, the unregulated glucose levels in your blood can lead to significant nerve damage, affecting your lower and upper extremities. This nerve damage is often progressive and irreversible and can lead to a lot of discomfort as damaged nerves become overactive in relaying pain messaging to your brain.

Traditionally, relief for the discomfort that diabetic peripheral neuropathy causes was typically pharmacological. Anti-seizure medications, opioid-based drugs, and antidepressants have played no small roles in helping diabetics who suffer from painful peripheral neuropathy.

While this pharmacological approach is still very much in use, there is another way to reduce symptoms — neuromodulation.

How neuromodulation works

The concept behind neuromodulation is to deliver mild electrical impulses that disrupt the pain messaging between the damaged nerves and your brain. The trick with this treatment is to target the right nerve roots or nerve cells.

At our practice, we’ve found great success treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy with dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation. Your spine contains 31 pairs of spinal nerves that contain dorsal root ganglions. These ganglions (or ganglia) are clusters of cells that act as transmission bridges for your sensory nerves between your peripheral nervous system and your central nervous system.

Through DRG stimulation, we identify the ganglion responsible for your neuropathic symptoms and target the nerve cells with electrical stimulation.

To do this, we place electrodes near the target DRG that emit electrical impulses. These impulses garble the messages from your peripheral nerves so that your brain doesn’t register them as pain.

To ensure that we target the right DRG, we perform a trial period first. Should this trial reduce your symptoms, we implant a generator just below your skin that powers the electrodes.

To give you an idea about the success of DRG stimulation in combating the discomfort and pain of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, one study concluded that “The painful symptoms of general peripheral neuropathy in the lower extremities, as well as associated pain medication usage, can be effectively managed by DRG stimulation.”

If you’d like to explore whether neuromodulation might be a good solution for your diabetic peripheral neuropathy pain, please contact one of our locations in Tualatin and Newberg, Oregon, to set up an appointment.

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