A painful tingling in the feet and a loss of balance are a couple of the problems caused by diabetic neuropathy. In this week's "Dealing with Diabetes" segment, the Eye on Health Team spoke with a local surgeon who's offering a new approach to treating it.
North Las Vegas resident, Janice Leger, has a family history of diabetes. Both her grandmother and her father died of complications from the disease.
"My grandmother, before she passed away, her legs... both legs, were amputated," Leger said.
Leger was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago. Like her grandmother, she gradually developed peripheral neuropathy. The condition causes the feet to go numb on the outside and be in constant pain on the inside.
"And it's shooting. It's knife pains. And it's worse at night, laying in bed trying to go to sleep," she said.
The usual course of medication didn't help. So Leger turned to Las Vegas surgeon, Darren Soong -- for a new procedure called nerve decompression.
Dr. Soong said, "It involves decompressing the nerves that we believe get compressed when conditions such as diabetes cause the nerves to swell."
Decompression surgery relieves pressure on swollen nerves, using three incisions. The procedure loosens the nerve bundles, improving circulation. Dr. Soong is careful in selecting patients for the procedure, because it's fairly new. Not everyone with diabetic neuropathy would be a candidate.
Dr. Soong said, "A significant amount of people have relief of their pain. But more importantly, we can restore their sensation so they can actually feel better and improve their balance as well."
Leger had one foot done and already has plans to do the other.
She said, "I could feel my foot again and my leg again. And there was no more tingling. No more shooting pains. No more numbness."
Dr. Soong compares nerve decompression to a similar method used to treat carpal tunnel in the hands.
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