Peripheral neuropathy is a fairly common complication of diabetes, and it's especially prevalent in people whose diabetes isn't managed very well. It typically causes chronic burning pain along with a tingling sensation, and it's most commonly felt in your hands or your feet. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can also cause a loss of sensation as well — it may feel like you're wearing mittens or slippers even when you don't have anything on.
Unfortunately, most pain medication doesn't work that well for diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and it can significantly interfere with your life — many people have difficulty sleeping due to the burning pain. Thankfully, mesenchymal stem cell treatment can offer hope for people with diabetes. If you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy, read on to find out what causes it and how stem cells may be able to help.
What Causes Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is caused by damage to your nerves, and diabetes damages your nerves in two different ways. High blood glucose levels can lead directly to inflammation and nerve damage, and they can also damage your capillaries. Your capillaries are the tiny blood vessels that provide your nerves with oxygen and vital nutrients. When your capillaries are damaged, your nerves don't have the nutrients they need in order to repair themselves. The damage adds up over time and eventually results in diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is most commonly felt in the hands and feet since these are the parts of your body that are farthest away from your spinal cord. When your nerves have extensive damage from diabetes, they struggle to correctly transmit nerve impulses such a far distance. However, some people with diabetes also experience neuropathy all throughout their legs or in their hips.
How Can Stem Cells Help Treat Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Stem cell treatment can potentially help reverse some of the damage that has been caused by high blood sugar levels. When treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy, mesenchymal stem cells are the variety that's typically used.
Mesenchymal stem cells are found in your bone marrow, and they have a few properties that make them a good candidate for treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The first reason is that they secrete angiogenic and neurotrophic factors. Your body can use angiogenic factors to regenerate damaged capillaries and neurotrophic factors can help repair damaged nerves.
Secondly, mesenchymal stem cells also secrete immunomodulatory substances that reduce inflammation. This helps to prevent your nerves from being further damaged by chronic inflammation related to diabetes.
Finally, stem cells, in general, have the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types. Mesenchymal stem cells can transform into a variety of different cells depending on their environment, including neurons. Mesenchymal stem cells that graft onto damaged nerve tissue can potentially help it heal.
What Happens During Treatment?
Stem cell treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy is done by injecting the cells into blood vessels near where you're experiencing pain. The mesenchymal stem cells used for the procedure can either come from your own bone marrow or from a biochemical vendor that has isolated mesenchymal stem cells from donor tissue.
If you have diabetes and you suffer from chronic burning and tingling in your hands and feet, contact a clinic in your area that provides stem cell services. Mesenchymal stem cells are often used for other conditions as well, so most clinics will have experience working with them — stem cell treatment may be the procedure you need to reduce your pain along with improving the sensation in your hands and feet.