by Angie Bowman, PT; Kim Hamel, OT; and Linda Hicks, BSN, MS, CDE
"When I met a patient who had stepped on a nail and didn't even know
it until he couldn't remove his shoe that night, I knew how important our work
is here at our Anodyne Neuropathy Care Center at LifeCare Center of Charleston,"
said Angie Bowman, PT. "We have treated over 400 patients with the Anodyne
Therapy System and all but a handful have shown improvement in their symptoms
including significantly reduced pain, improved sensation and improved balance.
We have also used it on chronic diabetic ulcers with good success. It has been
rewarding to see these patients improve and get their lives back to normal."
If you have peripheral neuropathy, you are not alone. An estimated more than 20 million people suffer from its complications, which can include pain, numbness, balance problems and slow-healing foot wounds and amputations.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy (PN)?
PN is one of the most common complications of diabetes, but may also be caused by circulatory problems, certain drugs, chemotherapy, alcohol abuse, anemia, AIDS, back problems, surgery, and by unknown causes (referred to as idiopathic neuropathy).
Research now shows one cause of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) is poor microcirculation to the nerves in the feet, legs and hands. In addition, recent studies have suggested an important molecule called nitric oxide (NO) may be in short supply in the blood vessels of people with diabetes. This molecule is critical for opening the blood vessels with each beat of your heart. Combine high blood pressure, high cholesterol or plaque build-up in your blood vessels with low amounts of NO (all common in diabetes), and the result is significantly reduced blood flow to the areas furthest from your heart. The nerves and tissues in those areas are not getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. The result can be pain, numbness, slow healing, and skin breakdown.
What is the standard of care for treatment of DPN?
Good glucose control is most important to prevent the progression of neuropathy. If that doesn't reduce your symptoms, then your doctor may prescribe drugs such as anti-depressants, anti-seizure medications or topical ointments like capsaicin cream. These drugs have been effective in relieving some painful symptoms of neuropathy. In addition, studies have shown that certain supplements like B12, folic acid and alpha lipoic acid may also help reduce neuropathic symptoms.
Along with medical interventions, special shoes, custom orthotics, and regular foot exams can protect feet from injuries or relieve pressure points. Despite these treatments, the majority of people suffering from PN continue to experience worsening pain, skin breakdown and a decline in quality of life. However, a new option has offered thousands relief from the symptoms of PN.
Monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE) may help!
MIRE is a photo-energy or light therapy used by doctors, physical and occupational therapists, and wound care specialists to increase circulation and reduce pain. The most promising device, called Anodyne Therapy, is already cleared by the FDA and holds a patent for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. Nine studies published or currently in press show its effectiveness. Six of the studies were conducted on over 1100 neuropathy patients.
Why does MIRE work on neuropathy and pain?
It is believed this infrared wavelength of photo energy increases the availability of nitric oxide by breaking it free from the red blood cells. Once NO is free, it increases blood flow to the area by up to 3200% in just 30 minutes. Over time, NO will facilitate the growth of tiny new blood vessels (capillaries) in the area, improving circulation with each treatment. If the nerve pain is due to lack of circulation, then getting better blood flow to them can have immediate results. The release of NO also has a direct effect on pain itself. Several studies published in the 1990s showed that NO was directly responsible for the pain-relieving effect of morphine and similar drugs.
Is MIRE 100% effective? No, nothing in medical science is 100 percent. But clinical studies show a majority have positive results. In fact, this technology is used by our U.S. military on all types of injuries because they have found it gets soldiers back to duty faster than any other therapy.
As a result of this clinical success, there are now over 2000 Anodyne Neuropathy Care Centers using MIRE nationwide. These centers are located in hospitals, universities, rehabilitation clinics, nursing homes, home health agencies, pain clinics, wound care centers and doctors' offices.
How do I get MIRE treatments?
The best way to start is with a trained therapist or doctor who has experience using MIRE. They will begin with an individual assessment of the difficulties you are experiencing due to your neuropathy. They will ask you questions about your goals for improvement and design a specialized therapy program to help you reach those goals.
How long do the treatments take and what should I expect?
A comprehensive program usually involves 10 to 24 therapy sessions with 30-45 minutes of Anodyne Therapy and may include any or all of the following treatments depending on your particular needs:
Is this therapy for everyone?
MIRE has been safely used for over 10 years on thousands of patients. No significant side effects or drug interactions have been reported as long as MIRE is properly used and monitored. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugars often during any therapy or activity. If you are pregnant or have an active cancer, there are special cautions when using this therapy. Always follow the directions of your doctor or therapist when using MIRE.
Is this therapy reimbursed?
Medicare and most private insurance carriers will reimburse for this therapy when you are being treated by a physical or occupational therapist. In some cases, doctors can also be reimbursed for treatments, however, that varies state by state. You will need a prescription from your doctor for this therapy.
Will I need ongoing treatment?
Unfortunately, diabetes and most other causes of neuropathy are chronic conditions. Your therapist or doctor will recommend home exercises to improve your balance and ability to walk. They may also suggest continued use of MIRE therapy at home for ongoing pain relief and to help you maintain your peripheral circulation. Medicare or your private insurance may cover a MIRE home treatment system with your doctor's prescription if you have shown improvement during your clinical treatment program.
You do not have to suffer with neuropathy. By controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as exercising and adding this promising photo-energy therapy to increase circulation, you can make a difference in your life.
For information and a listing of Anodyne Neuropathy Care Centers, call 800-521-6664 or visit www.anodynetherapy.com