Novel Treatment Offers New Hope for Peripheral Neuropathy

Fran Lowry

March 02, 2020

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland ― Combined electrochemical treatment (CET), a technique that uses local nerve blocks in conjunction with electric cell signaling, regenerates nerve fibers and significantly reduces pain for patients with peripheral neuropathy, early research suggests.

Five of six patients with objectively diagnosed painful peripheral neuropathy (PPN) who were treated with CET over a 6- to 12-week period experienced a 100% increase in nerve density. Pain scores were reduced by 90%, and the treatment was also associated with a 74% improvement in physical function.

Dr Peter Carney

"When I see patients with peripheral neuropathy, I tell them there are three treatments," study investigator and neurologist Peter M. Carney, MD, who is in private practice in Elkhart, Indiana, told Medscape Medical News.

"You can take medication, which has about a 35% to 40% chance of helping you and a 60% chance of giving you side effects, or, if you don't respond to drugs, the second option is to just learn to live with it. Now we have treatment number three, where we are using physics, not pharmacology, to regenerate the nerves, reduce pain, and improve function," Carney said.

The findings were presented here at the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) 2020 Annual Meeting.

"Revolutionary Concept"

CET involves the use of local anesthesia to block pain and other nerve function in the distal lower extremities. Electric cell signaling treatment (EST) is then applied to both lower extremities to promote blood flow, which is essential to healing, said Carney.

"It's a totally different, revolutionary concept of how you treat pain. It uses the principles of physics, rather than pharmacology," said Carney, who became interested in the use of the principles of quantum mechanics to treat patients with PPN about 5 years ago.

"The principles of quantum mechanics not only treat PPN more effectively and more safely than pharmacological methods but also demonstrate that these principles help to regenerate nerves destroyed by PPN," he said.

The six patients in this series had pain that varied in intensity from 4/10 to 9/10 on a visual analogue scale (VAS). The patients had been experiencing pain for a period ranging from 6 months to 20 years.

Before treatment with CET, all patients underwent epidermal nerve fiber density (ENFD) biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy.

They received an average of 21.5 CET treatments. Each treatment lasted from 15 to 30 minutes; treatments were administered twice a week.

Patients were followed for an average of 26 months (range, 4 to 40 months) after their last treatment. Another ENFD biopsy was performed 6 months after treatment ended.

In addition to the VAS, other measures of treatment efficacy included the Neuropathy Functioning Index (NFI) and assessments of the degree to which medications were used.

These were recorded during treatment, at the last treatment, and on average 26 months after the last treatment.

Objective Evidence of Efficacy

Five of the six patients experienced 100% regeneration of nerve fibers, as documented by ENFD. At the start of treatment, the average nerve density was 2.77 nerve fibers per millimeter. Six months later, it was 5.54 nerve fibers per millimeter.

"That's objective evidence that this works," said Carney.

The average pain score dropped from 6.8 during treatment to 1 at the end of treatment. This reduction in pain continued, further diminishing to 0.7, for a 90% reduction at 30 months.

There was a 67% improvement in physical functioning by the end of treatment, with NFI scores going from 57.2 to 18.6. At 30 months, there was a 74% improvement; the average NFI score was 14.6.

In addition, there were no short- or long-term side effects.

Of the five patients who were taking medication for PPN before starting CET therapy, four stopped taking one or more of these medications.

The single patient who did not experience nerve fiber regrowth still experienced a 44% reduction in pain and a 34% improvement in function. He was lost to follow-up 4 months after finishing treatment, Carney reported.

"These results demonstrate the effectiveness of CET. You regenerate the nerves, you reduce the pain, restore the function. When the world understands that by using physics, you can regenerate nerves, reduce pain, and restore function, we will have totally revolutionized how we treat pain," Carney said.

Report Stimulates Further Study

Dr Jianguo Cheng

Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, Jianguo Cheng, MD, PhD, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and professor and director of the Pain Fellowship Program at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, said the findings warrant further study.

"Because of the lack of effective treatment for painful peripheral neuropathy, novel approaches to this common clinical problem are highly needed. Carney's report stimulates further study, ideally through randomized and controlled clinical trials, to demonstrate efficacy, safety, and generalizability."

Carney and Cheng have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) 2020 Annual Meeting: Abstract 421. Presented February 29, 2020.

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