Patients continue to find success in neuropathy treatments through a noninvasive, painless and drug-free approach that includes the use of light therapy to stimulate tissue repair, said Dr. Shawn Richey.
About 30 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which feature what can be debilitating symptoms of painful cramping, burning and tingling, difficulty walking, numbness and even interruption of sleep.
“It’s given people with neuropathy some hope that there is something out there than can help them and make them feel better and live better,” said Richey, who practices with Neuropathy Treatment Centers of Pittsburgh. “It’s a big thing.”
The success rate of the procedure, which Richey said is offered in Neuropathy Treatment Centers of Pittsburgh offices in Latrobe, Washington and Wexford, is a testament to the process.
Richey said has he treated more than 5,000 patients. About 70% of his patients experience some pain relief and improved function, and 50% of that group claim to be cured, he said.
Up to 90% of his patients, he said, have experienced some type of relief.
Neuropathy typically features nerve damage – most often caused by poor circulation, chemotherapy or the impacts of auto-immune disease.
Richey said the process uses different wavelengths of light to stimulate production of nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes endothelial cells that form the lining of blood vessels. The result of the process is improved blood flow with other processes serving to repair damaged nerve endings, he said.
Research says it helps generate adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, a co-enzyme involved in generating cellular energy.
“It opens the capillaries,” Richey said. “As we get older, we lose that production and capillaries get tighter.”
Richey said the nitric oxide gets into the top layer of the skin to help the process.
While Richey trumpets the success of the light therapy, the process and treatments is not 100% effective and can be expensive, some others said.
Some patients said the process didn’t work for them and the treatments became expensive.
“Even after 10 treatments, I didn’t feel it did much,” said one patient. “I still had numbness and was continuing to work around and trying to take steps with basically legs that felt like they were asleep.”
Richey said since 2013, the program has had a 90% satisfaction rate. He said the treatments have helped many patients have a normal life.
“It takes people who had no hope back to dancing or driving again,” Ritchey said.
He said in some cases, the patient’s neuropathy is advanced to the point where there is little chance of changing for the better.
“If it’s too far gone, sometimes it’s just hard to make that turn,” Richey said.
The process is effective, in many cases, in helping to rejuvenate the nerves that eliminate neuropathy symptoms, pain, balance and sleep issues, Richey said.
He added that the technology continues to evolve.
“I work directly with the electrical engineer,” Richey said. “It is advancing in the technology and the power of the technology. I have revamped the technology four or five times since this started in 2013.”