Is CET Treatment for Neuropathy Worth the Try?
Combined Electrochemical Therapy (CET) is one of the newest treatments available for peripheral neuropathy.
While it’s still at its early stage and more research is needed, preliminary findings and clinical trials show great promise. This combination of electrical signals with pain medication may significantly reduce nerve pain and improve nerve function.
So, let’s investigate and find out if CET treatment is worth the try if standard neuropathy treatments have failed for you.
What is Combined Electrochemical Therapy (CET)?
Combined Electrochemical Therapy (CET) is an innovative, FDA-approved treatment for chronic pain, including nerve pain caused by peripheral neuropathy, musculoskeletal pain, or chronic wounds.
CET combines pain medications like local anesthetics or anti-inflammatory drugs with Electrical Signal Therapy (EST). It helps reduce pain by delivering pain-relief medicines directly to the affected area, enhancing the drug’s effectiveness while minimizing side effects on healthy tissue.
During CET, a low-voltage electrical current is applied to the skin over the painful or sensitive area. These electrical signals are believed to improve the delivery and absorption of pain medication into the underlying tissues, nerves, muscles, and joints. Using electric current may help drive the drug more profound into the tissues, where it can target the source of pain more effectively.
It is important to note that Combined Electrochemical Treatment is still considered an experimental therapy for most conditions, including neuropathy. Therefore, it’s often available only in clinical trials.
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CET Treatment for Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is one of the areas where CET is being extensively studied. Indeed, preliminary research suggests that CET may effectively reduce pain and improve nerve function in patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and diabetic neuropathy.
But let’s first understand what peripheral neuropathy is exactly and why it causes such difficult chronic pain to treat.
What is peripheral neuropathy pain?
Peripheral neuropathy is a chronic condition where the nerves at the body’s extremities (feet and hands mostly) are damaged. It can be caused by various factors, including diabetes (diabetic neuropathy), chemotherapy treatments for cancer, infections, certain medications, alcoholism, or autoimmune disorders.
Neuropathic pain and symptoms can be mild or highly debilitating depending on the individual and the extent of nerve damage.
Nerve pain is known to be one of the most challenging types of pain to address medically. That’s because peripheral nerves are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body and vice versa. When they are damaged, they can send abnormal signals to the brain. As a result, patients can feel pain or unpleasant sensations often described as numbness, burning, tingling, or shooting sensation. In some cases, neuropathy can also cause muscle weakness, loss of balance, or difficulty walking, seriously interfering with daily activities, physical exercise, work abilities, and quality of life.
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The exact mechanisms of peripheral neuropathy pain are not fully understood yet. Several factors may be involved, including inflammation, nerve damage, and abnormal signaling in the nervous system. Additionally, peripheral neuropathy can change how the brain processes pain signals, leading to a heightened sensitivity to pain.
Eventually, standard neuropathy treatments, such as analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or antiepileptic drugs1 like Gabapentin, often fail at providing relief. New physical therapies such as Electrical Nerve Stimulation or Combined Electrochemical Therapy are showing great promise.
How does CET work for neuropathy?
Combined Electrochemical Therapy (CET) for neuropathy is believed to work by enhancing the delivery and absorption of the medication into the damaged nerves.
A unique device applies a low-voltage electrical current to the skin over the feet or hands. The healthcare provider may need to use a conductive gel on your skin first. The process is not painful, although some patients may experience a mild tingling sensation.
The electrical current helps the pain medication penetrate deeper and reach the underlying nerves more effectively. Medicines used in CET for neuropathy generally include local anesthetics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or other medications commonly used to treat neuropathy.
It’s important to understand that the goal of CET for neuropathy is to reduce nerve pain and improve nerve function. It’s not a cure for neuropathy and won’t reverse nerve damage.
However, several studies and clinical trials have found it safe and effective at reducing pain and symptoms.
A 2016 review article about the clinical outcomes of CET for neuropathy2 found that “CET is safe and effective in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy in as many as 70-80% of cases”.
A 2019 study3 similarly concluded that combined electrochemical therapy can be used as a safe and effective treatment for peripheral diabetic neuropathy.
While the results of the above studies are promising, more research is needed to determine the long-term effectiveness and safety of CET for treating neuropathy.
Is CET safe for neuropathy patients?
Preliminary studies on CET for neuropathy have reported no significant adverse effects, and the treatment has been generally well-tolerated by patients.
But the safety of Combined Electrochemical Treatment (CET) for neuropathy depends on several factors, including the individual’s overall health status, medical history, the specific type and severity of their neuropathy, the extent of nerve damage, and possible existing complications.
Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition that can cause severe health complications. As with any medical treatment, discussing CET’s potential benefits and risks with a healthcare professional to determine whether it is a suitable option for you is essential
How to Find a CET Therapist for Neuropathy Near Me?
Combined electrochemical therapy (CET) is a relatively new emerging medical technology that involves multiple electrochemical techniques and pain medications.
It must be performed by trained healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or medical technicians who have undergone specialized training in the use of electrochemical therapy for medical purposes.
CET for neuropathy is still an experimental therapy and is not yet widely available. However, it may be available at specialized medical centers or clinical trials near you.
If you are interested, you should consult with your healthcare provider to determine if CET is a good treatment option for you and where you may receive that treatment in your area.
Last, be aware that CET may not be covered by health insurance. Make sure to check with your insurance provider to determine if your plan can cover CET therapy for neuropathy.
To conclude, new treatments for neuropathy, such as Combined Electrochemical Therapy (CET) or Electrical Nerve Stimulation (ENS), represent significant progress and promise for neuropathy patients. But please remember that they should not be expected to work alone. Nutrition, diet, blood sugar control, physical exercise, and lifestyle changes are often necessary to improve peripheral neuropathy symptoms and prevent further nerve damage.
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Have you tried CET for neuropathy? We’d be happy to hear about your experience in the comment section below!
About the author: Laura Pandolfi
I’m Laura. Type 1 diabetic. Mother. Traveler. Writer. Researcher. I started this blog five years ago to investigate diabetes-related topics and share different views. You can read my partner diabetes organizations around the World here.
1 Wiffen PJ, Derry S, Moore RA, Aldington D, Cole P, Rice AS, Lunn MP, Hamunen K, Haanpaa M, Kalso EA. Antiepileptic drugs for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia – an overview of Cochrane reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Nov 11;2013(11):CD010567. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010567.pub2. PMID: 24217986; PMCID: PMC6469538. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469538/
2 Odell RH, Chaya Z (2016) Clinical Outcomes Utilizing the Combined Electrochemical Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy: A Retrospective Study from a Western Clinic. Gavin J Anesthesiol 2016: 1-7. https://soundpainsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2016-Clinical-Outcomes-Utilizing-CET-for-PN.pdf
3 P.Carney, Effectively treating painful peripheral neuropathy: A study of six cases. Oct. 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2019.10.493