Painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) is one of the major complications of diabetes mellitus. It is often debilitating and refractory to pharmaceutical therapies. Our goal was to systematically review and evaluate the strength of evidence of interventional management options for PDN and make evidence-based recommendations for clinical practice.
We searched PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Llibrary and systematically reviewed all types of clinical studies on interventional management modalities for PDN.
We identified and analyzed 10 relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs), 8 systematic reviews/meta-analyses, and 5 observational studies of interventional modalities for PDN using pain as primary outcome. We assessed the risk of bias in grading of evidence and found that there is moderate to strong evidence to support the use of dorsal column spinal cord stimulation (SCS) in treating PDN in the lower extremities (evidence level: 1B+), while studies investigating its efficacy in the upper extremities are lacking. Evidence exists that acupuncture and injection of botulinum toxin-A provide relief in pain or muscle cramps due to PDN with minimal side effects (2B+/1B+). Similar level of evidence supports surgical decompression of lower limb peripheral nerves in patients with intractable PDN and superimposed nerve compression (2B±/1B+). Evidence for sympathetic blocks or neurolysis and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation is limited to case series (2C+).
Moderate to strong evidence exists to support the use of SCS in managing lower extremity pain in patients who have failed conventional medical management for PDN. Acupuncture or injection of botulinum toxin-A can be considered as an adjunctive therapy for PDN. Surgical decompression of peripheral nerves may be considered in patients with PDN superimposed with nerve compression. High-quality studies are warranted to further evaluate the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of interventional therapies for PDN.