Diabetes, a chronic health condition that affects 34.2 million Americans – just over 1 in 10, results when a person’s blood glucose or blood sugar is too high. High blood sugar can damage the nerves that send signals from the hands and feed, causing painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN). PDN can create numbness and tingling in the fingers, toes, hands and feet – along with a burning, sharp and aching pain.
Now, there’s good news for the 20% of diabetics who develop PDN.
Altair Health, leaders in spine, brain and neurovascular care, is now administering HFX™ for PDN, the only Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) system approved by the FDA with a specific indication to treat PDN.
Altair Health’s Dr. Jagjeet Singh, MD, who specializes in interventional pain management, recently spoke with NJ Advance Media about HFX and how it is revolutionizing the management of pain associated with PDN.
Q: How has PDN historically been managed?
A: Until now, treatment options have included anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants, Opioids and topical agents. Most patients discontinue many of these therapies after six to 12 months because they are not effective and cause side effects.
Q: What is HFX for PDN?
Developed by Nevro, a California-based medical device company, HFX is a Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) system.
Q: How does it work?
A spinal cord stimulator – which has been used to treat neuropathic back and leg pain for years – is an implanted device that sends low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord to relieve pain. Delivering mild electric pulses to the nerves interrupts pain signals to the brain, alleviating pain and improving quality of life. Nevro’s HFX for PDN delivers 10 kHz Therapy to treat this condition.
Q: What steps should a patient follow to determine if HFX is an appropriate treatment therapy?
A: First, the patient should speak with a specialist who offers the HFX Solution and has deep experience and positive outcomes with SCS. Here at Altair Health, we have an initial consultation with a patient suffering from PDN to assess his/her condition, determine if HFX is an appropriate treatment option and answer any questions.
If deemed viable, patients can try the HFX Solution on a temporary week-long trial basis. The trial system, which delivers the same therapy as the implanted device, consists of a simple procedure performed in our office. Thin, flexible wires – or leads – are placed beneath the patient’s skin, next to the spine. The patient wears a temporary device that delivers stimulations to the leads under his/her clothes. The system is customized to the patient’s pain. Following the trial, the patient can assess the amount of pain relief and improvement to daily activities.
Q: What is the next step if the patient wants to proceed with the implant after the trial?
A: During a quick minimally invasive procedure typically performed in an outpatient setting, a small device is implanted under the skin, just above the beltline or in the buttocks area. It’s connected to thin, flexible wires, just like those used in the trial, that are placed near the spine. The patient goes home the same day. In certain cases, a larger lead – or paddle lead – may need to be surgically implanted.
Q: How successful in HFX in treating PDN?
A: The majority of patients – 85% – enjoy long-term pain relief as well as improved sleep without the side effects of conventional treatments. HFX is not addictive, does not cloud thoughts, cause drowsiness or constipation like pain medications do.
Q: Has the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved other SCS systems for PDN?
A: No. The HFX Solution is the only SCS system approved by the FDA to manage shooting, burning and the pins-and-needles pain associated with diabetic neuropathy.