Research: simple intervention gives diabetes patients mobility back

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Plastic surgery reverses the loss of sensation in the foot by loosening a pinched nerve in the ankle

Loss of sensation in the foot is a common problem in diabetic patients. Willem Rinkel, a plastic surgeon in training at UMC Utrecht, investigated the consequences of a pinched nerve in the ankle, which often occurs in patients with diabetes. The crushing causes pain complaints and loss of feeling in the foot. This increases the risk of instability, falls and (chronic) wounds on the foot. Rinkel’s research shows that pain and sensation complaints on the foot are reduced in 50% of the cases by a simple operation in which the pinched nerve is released. Rinkel: “The treatment leads to a reduction in pain, which increases the patient’s mobility after surgery. The procedure has an inhibitory effect on nerve damage and a positive impact on the quality of life of diabetes patients. ”

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in the Netherlands. More than 1.2 million Dutch people have diabetes. This number is expected to increase to 1.4 million by 2040. Ninety percent of them have type 2 diabetes. About half of the patients have to deal with additional chronic complications such as cardiovascular disease, eye complaints and neuropathy, or nerve damage. Neuropathy has no cure. Loss of sensation in one or both feet occurs in about 30% of patients with diabetes. Rinkel shows that this loss of feeling increases the chances of instability and falls. In 1 in 10 cases this has serious consequences. Think of fractures and head or brain injuries. Rink’s five-year study investigated the effects of the operation on the pinched nerve and shows that 50% of the patients report a reduction in pain after the operation. This could mean that the operation slows down or even reverses the neuropathic process. Five years after surgery, this means for many patients that they have regained their mobility and carefreeness. Rinkel: “Patients can walk again with less pain and uncertainty. The procedure gives patients the opportunity to (again) maintain a more active lifestyle. “

Simple measuring method

Rinkel, who obtained his doctorate under Prof. Dr Coert, head of Plastic Surgery at UMC Utrecht, shows that simple measuring instruments, such as a tuning fork, are suitable for providing insight into the degree of loss of feeling. This makes it possible to better predict the additional risks and better monitor patients in order to treat them appropriately. The Dutch Association for Plastic Surgery (NVPC) is pleased with the results of this study. “For a disease that has no cure and is associated with an increased risk of (chronic) complications, this offers patients perspective,” says Marc Mureau, chairman of the NVPC.

Source: NVPC

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