Health Headlines: Treating diabetic neuropathy

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Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 8:00 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Of those who have diabetes over half struggle with a serious condition called diabetic neuropathy which is nerve damage that causes numbness and pain in the legs and feet. But now, a relatively new treatment is using stimulation to treat it.

Alice Ortiz calls herself a city girl turned country. But living on a 10-acre farm and keeping up with cows, goats, and chickens has been tough for the past six years while suffering from diabetic neuropathy.

“It started with like, tingling and a little bit of burning and numbness.”

But the pain got worse, making it difficult to be on her feet.

“Diabetic neuropathy took over my life. I mean, living with pain 24/7 is not, it’s not easy.”

Ortiz was treated with medication. She tried Gabapentin, Cymbalta, and Lyrica. But nothing seemed to work.

Dr. Wiliam Raoofi is a pain management specialist with Mercy Medical Center who explained the problem with Ortiz’s situation, “Unfortunately, until recently, there really was no next step.”

But, Dr. Raoofi says there’s now a newly approved treatment for diabetic neuropathy.

“I describe it as, kind of, like, a cardiac pacemaker, but for the nervous system.”

It’s called Nevro HFX, a spinal cord stimulator that transmits mild electrical pulses to the spinal cord.

“It’s done through a very small needle that’s put in someone’s back, similar to an epidural.”

The device is connected to a pulse generator that sends the electrical current to the spine.

Ortiz says the results were dramatic, “It was like a light switch. The pain totally went away.”

Now, she can vacation, cruise with her family, and finally, can get into her dream ride.

“I own a Jeep. I drive it all the time. And that was on my bucket list. There’s nothing out there that I cannot do.”

A trial of the device shows that 80% of patients have pain relief from the stimulation.