New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger
Diagnosed with diabetes last year, 62-year-old Helen Mitchell soon started feeling the effects of neuropathy in her legs and feet.
"Burning, pain, numbness, cold feeling. I couldn't feel when I was walking," says Mitchell.
But that all changed after multiple nerve decompression surgery. Podiatrist Brandt Dodson explains how diabetics have an increase in blood sugar that makes their nerves swell and become entrapped within surrounding tissue.
"It's a lot like falling asleep on your hand and then the numbing, tingling, burning kind of pain is just unrelenting and up until recently, we had little to offer them," explains Dr. Dodson.
Medication for pain used to be the only treatment, but now Dr. Dodson can actually restore nerve sensation. Finding the strangulated nerves takes time, but once he does, he can separate them from the surrounding tissue fairly easily. He starts near the knee and works down to the foot, freeing up six individual nerves during the two hour procedure.
"She'll be better," says Dr. Dodson. "She can sleep through the night and she won't be as much at risk for amputations and ulcers and all those types of things."
Some patients will be able to walk the same day and within three to six months, the tingling and burning should go away.
It did for Helen Mitchell, who rejoiced the day she stubbed her toe and felt it. "And he told me that as the nerves rejuvenate, there will be more pain, so it sounds strange, but I am looking forward to more pain," she says.