How a New Treatment for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy Changed This Man’s Life
Editor’s Note: This content was made possible with support from Nevro, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication.
Earl Arnold endured painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) for six years before finding a treatment that truly relieved his pain.
“I have always been active,” explained Arnold, who lives with type 2 diabetes. “I’d been working in the oil fields for 35 years, and in the refinery after that, but as soon as I would sit down…my feet would just start to burn and tingle.”
Despite taking pregabalin (commonly known under its brand name Lyrica) Arnold’s symptoms of PDN were so painful he would dread sitting down and resting his feet after a long day.
Arnold recalled Lyrica being very effective at first, but over time its effects lessened. The daily pain was worsening to the point of truly impacting his daily quality of life.
“I’m also an avid hunter,” added Arnold, “but I couldn’t enjoy that anymore with so much pain. The pain would also keep me up at night. Sometimes just letting the covers in our bed touch my feet was unbearable. Unbelievable pain.”
Arnold’s wife, Patricia, recalled watching her husband walking as though he was stepping on sharp eggshells.
“He talked about the pain in his feet constantly,” she added, watching him become less and less able to manage regular tasks at home, too, including mowing the lawn or climbing a ladder to clean the gutters.
Trying a new treatment for painful diabetic neuropathy
“When taking Lyrica became less and less helpful, my podiatrist referred me to Dr. Damon Patterson, a neuro-interventional physician,” explained Arnold. “He recommended trying the HFX™ Solution.”
HFX™ for PDN is a Senza spinal cord stimulation (SCS) system that uses 10 kHz Therapy to treat pain from diabetic neuropathy. The HFX Solution is the only SCS treatment option approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat painful diabetic neuropathy, developed by a company called Nevro.
The Senza system is a small implantable device that is placed in the back just near the spinal cord during a minimally invasive procedure. The system is set to a specific frequency of 10kHz and sends small electrical pulses to your spinal cord. These pulses calm the nerves throughout the limbs and back. By calming those nerves, the system reduces the pain signals sent to the brain, reducing physical pain. For those who want to try it, there is an initial seven-day trial.
For Arnold, it was instantly clear how much it could help his pain. “Honestly, HFX has been a life-saver!” said Arnold, who said his pain was reduced by at least 70 percent during the trial period. “I could actually sleep at night.”
About a month later, Arnold arrived for the outpatient procedure to have the HFX system implanted.
“I didn’t have any problems with the implantation of the device. It was very simple, and I went home that same day.”
Getting a good night’s sleep with painful diabetic neuropathy
Now, nearly seven years later, Arnold is still enjoying the benefits of his HFX system.
“I really don’t have any pain right now—it’s almost like 100 percent pain relief for me. It’s made such a difference in my life. I can do my ‘honey-do’ list now, too!” laughed Arnold. “I can climb the ladder and do everything I need to do.”
His wife has seen the impact it’s had on his pain and his daily enjoyment of life.
“He doesn’t walk around on eggshells anymore, or talk about how much his feet hurt at night,” said Patricia. “He actually sleeps now, too.”
Arnold knows the idea of an implanted device can sound daunting to some, but the results are worth it.
“I would tell anyone who’s hesitant that you don’t have to worry, you’re in really good hands and you’re gonna be amazed at the end result,” said Arnold. “You’ll be totally surprised at how much it changes your quality of life. You’re gonna be amazed.”