Surgical peripheral nerve decompression for the treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy of the foot - A level 1 pragmatic randomized controlled trial

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2019 Jan;147:149-156. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.08.002. Epub 2018 Aug 4.


Aims: To assess the efficacy of surgical decompression of lower extremity nerves for the treatment of painful diabetic peripheral sensorimotor polyneuropathy (DPN).

Methods: People with painful diabetic neuropathy were randomized single-blind to a lower extremity decompression surgery (n = 12) or observation (n = 10) for 1 year.

Results: Pain was the primary outcome assessed with 2 measures. The McGill pain visual analogue scores over time changed within the groups (p for time < 0.0001), and changed differently over time within the groups (p for group × time = 0.0138). The NeuroQoL pain sensitivity analysis significantly changed from baseline to 12 months comparing intervention to control (p = 0.0079), and the joint effect of group and time on pain scores was statistically significant (p for group × time = 0.0009). At the study end-point of 12 months, intervention group participants had over 3 times the odds of rating their pain as "better" compared to "unchanged" or "worse" in the control group (p = 0.0177).

Conclusions: Surgical decompression of lower limb nerves was an effective treatment for decreasing pain in patients with DPN and superimposed nerve compressions.

Keywords: Chronic painful diabetic neuropathy; Decompression of peripheral nerve; Pain; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Neuropathies / surgery*
  • Female
  • Foot / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Nerves / surgery*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*