December 26, 2005

Infrared energy doesn’t ease diabetic nerve damage

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Devices that deliver
monochromatic infrared energy (MIRE) are approved by the Food
and Drug Administration for certain uses, but it seems they are
no better than placebo treatments in reducing the foot numbness
experienced by people who have nerve damage related to

"Clinicians should be aware that MIRE may not be an
effective modality for improvement of sensory impairments in
patients with diabetic neuropathy," warn Judy K. Clifft, a
physical therapist at the University of Tennessee Health
Science Center in Memphis, and colleagues, writing in the
medical journal Diabetes Care.

The U.S. FDA approved MIRE devices in the mid-1990s to
increase circulation and reduce pain and have been used in
patients with wounds and soft-tissue trauma. Several case
reports and uncontrolled studies have suggested that MIRE may
improve lower-extremity sensory neuropathy.

The Memphis group tested the value of MIRE in an 8-week
study involving 39 adults with diabetic peripheral neuropathy,
who were randomly treated with actual or sham MIRE therapy
applied on three days per week for four weeks.

According to the team, 30 minutes of real MIRE was no more
effective than sham MIRE in improving sensation on the sole of
the foot. "There were no significant differences between active
and placebo groups at any measurement," Clifft and colleagues

It's worth noting, according to the team, that foot
sensation increased for both the active MIRE and placebo MIRE
groups. Therefore, if the study had been done without a placebo
control, "the active MIRE treatment would have appeared to be
therapeutically effective."

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, December 2005.