Objective: Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN) is a common complication of diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, pharmacological treatment is often partially effective or accompanied by unacceptable side effects, and new treatments are urgently needed. Small observational studies suggested that spinal cord stimulation (SCS) may have positive effects.
Research design and methods: We performed a multicenter randomized clinical trial in 36 PDPN patients with severe lower limb pain not responding to conventional therapy. Twenty-two patients were randomly assigned to SCS in combination with the best medical treatment (BMT) (SCS group) and 14 to BMT only (BMT group). The SCS system was implanted only if trial stimulation was successful. Treatment success was defined as ≥50% pain relief during daytime or nighttime or "(very) much improved" for pain and sleep on the patient global impression of change (PGIC) scale at 6 months.
Results: Trial stimulation was successful in 77% of the SCS patients. Treatment success was observed in 59% of the SCS and in 7% of the BMT patients (P < 0.01). Pain relief during daytime and during nighttime was reported by 41 and 36% in the SCS group and 0 and 7% in the BMT group, respectively (P < 0.05). Pain and sleep were "(very) much improved" in 55 and 36% in the SCS group, whereas no changes were seen in the BMT group, respectively (P < 0.001 and P < 0.05). One SCS patient died because of a subdural hematoma.
Conclusions: Treatment success was shown in 59% of patients with PDPN who were treated with SCS over a 6-month period, although this treatment is not without risks.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01162993.
© 2014 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.