Assessing the Effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy on Painful Diabetic Distal Symmetric Peripheral Neuropathy: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Erica E. Tassone, Jeffrey C. Page, Marvin J. Slepian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Significant complications of diabetes include pain and the loss of sensation in peripheral limbs. Pain management of diabetic symmetric peripheral neuropathy (DSPN) remains challenging. This study reports on utilizing pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) to reduce pain and improve skin perfusion pressure (SPP) in subjects with DSPN. Methods: A randomized, sham-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial was conducted on subjects afflicted with foot pain associated with DSPN. Following informed consent, 182 subjects with diabetes and confirmed DSPN were entered into the trial for a period of 18 weeks. Subjects were randomized into active PEMF treatment or nonactive sham and instructed to treat to their feet for 30 minutes, twice daily and report daily pain scores. Some patients in the active arm experienced a transient low field strength notification (LFSN) due to improper pad placement during treatment. Skin perfusion pressure measurements were also collected at two and seven weeks to assess peripheral arterial disease effects via measurement of local microcirculatory flow and blood pressure. Results: Patients in the active arm who did not receive an LFSN experienced a clinically significant 30% reduction in pain from baseline compared to sham (P <.05). Though not statistically significant, SPP in the active group trended toward improvement compared to sham. Conclusions: Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy appears effective as a nonpharmacological means for reduction of pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and holds promise for improvement of vascular physiology in microcirculatory dysfunction associated with diabetic peripheral arterial disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Diabetes Science and Technology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • diabetes
  • diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • diabetic symmetric peripheral neuropathy
  • pain relief
  • pulsed electromagnetic field therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering

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