The medical records of 1,047 patients (mean age, 73 years) with established peripheral neuropathy were examined to determine whether treatment with monochromatic infrared photo energy was associated with increased foot sensitivity to the 5.07 Semmes- Weinstein monofilament. The peripheral neuropathy in 790 of these patients (75%) was due to diabetes mellitus. Before treatment with monochromatic infrared photo energy, of the ten tested sites (five on each foot), a mean +/- SD of 7.9 +/- 2.4 sites were insensitive to the 5.07 Semmes-Weinstein monofilament, and 1,033 patients exhibited loss of protective sensation. After treatment, the mean +/- SD number of insensate sites on both feet was 2.3 +/- 2.4, an improvement of 71%. Only 453 of 1,033 patients (43.9%) continued to have loss of protective sensation after treatment. Therefore, monochromatic infrared photo energy treatment seems to be associated with significant clinical improvement in foot sensation in patients, primarily Medicare aged, with peripheral neuropathy. Because insensitivity to the 5.07 Semmes-Weinstein monofilament has been reported to be a major risk factor for diabetic foot wounds, the use of monochromatic infrared photo energy may be associated with a reduced incidence of diabetic foot wounds and amputations.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if improved foot sensitivity to the Semmes-Weinstein 10-g (5.07) monofilament, originally impaired because of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, might be associated with a reduced incidence of new diabetic foot wounds. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study using a health status questionnaire.
SUBJECTS: Sixty-eight individuals over age 64 with diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and loss of protective sensation who had clinically demonstrable increases in foot sensation to the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament after treatment with monochromatic near infrared photo energy.
MAIN RESULTS: After reversal of diabetic peripheral neuropathy following treatment with monochromatic near infrared photo energy, only 1 of 68 patients developed a new diabetic foot wound, for an incidence of 1.5%. Comparatively, the incidence previously reported in the Medicare-aged population with diabetes was 7.3%. CONCLUSIONS: Improved foot sensitivity to the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament in patients previously suffering from loss of protective sensation due to diabetic neuropathy appears to be associated with a lower incidence of new diabetic foot ulcers when compared with the expected incidence in the Medicare-aged population with diabetes.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Therapeutic interventions that effectively improve foot sensitivity that has been previously diminished due to diabetic peripheral neuropathy may substantially reduce the incidence of new foot wounds in the Medicare-aged population with diabetes.