About 20 million people in the United States, including more than half of all diabetics, suffer from neuropathy. It can cause weakness, numbness, and pain in hands and feet. Now a new therapy is helping people back on their feet.
For some it's like electricity or pins and needles. Others feel like their feet are on fire.
"The pain would shoot right through my legs." For Eddie Jeffcoat, just walking across the street was almost impossible. "I might not make it back to the other side."
Eddie has neuropathy. Damaged nerves in his feet have left him homebound for the last three years. "It came to where I couldn't stand, I couldn't walk."
But now he's walking his dog, and even enjoying his treadmill time. And he's done it all in 90 days.
"It's incredible; most people start seeing results literally with the first treatment." Dr. Marc Ott says the new treatment for feet and hands centers around an electric stimulator called the rebuilder. It measures how a person's nerves are abnormally firing, then sends an electrical frequency to get the nerve back into a normal firing pattern. "So for each patient the way the unit actually fires is different. It builds a pattern that's specific to you."
The therapy includes exercises on a vibrating platform to help restore balance and neurological control. "It's pretty astonishing to watch the results these patients experience and the lifestyle changes that it makes for them."
While Eddie's still not up to full speed, he's lost 40 pounds and his pain level's been cut in half. "90 days ago the pain was a ten; it hurt real bad. I'm at a five."
A home unit could help reduce the pain even more. In the meantime, Eddie says the rebuilder has made life a lot more bearable.
Dr. Ott says almost all of his patients see a change with the therapy. He tells us the degree of improvement depends on the individual. The rebuilder treatment is available across the country. It is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans.