Therapy Improves Diabetic Neuropathy

Researchers have found a treatment used for neuropathy resulting from unknown causes also works for diabetic neuropathy. About 80 percent of the patients in their study showed significant improvement after receiving intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, or IVIG.

The University of Miami investigators studied the treatment in diabetic patients after numerous other studies showed similarities between the diabetic condition and a spontaneous form of the disease. IVIG has been found effective in the latter group.

The study involved 26 diabetics ranging in age from 40 to 80. All suffered from diabetic neuropathy. Patients were evaluated for motor function before therapy. IVIG was administered daily for six days. Patients were reassessed after four weeks.

Eighty percent of patients had significant improvement in lower limb motor function at the four week follow up, with 50 percent able to walk unaided. This compares to 30 percent before the study began. Only about 11 percent of the patients still needed a wheelchair after the therapy, compared to 50 percent prior to treatment. Eleven of the patients also received a conduction block along with the IVIG. This group had the best results and were least likely to suffer a relapse. IVIG was generally well tolerated, although some patients did suffer reversible effects on the kidneys.

Although the investigators believe IVIG may be an effective treatment for people with diabetic neuropathy, they note their study was an uncontrolled trial and emphasize controlled studies are needed to confirm their findings.

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