People with neuropathy experience a significantly reduced quality of life. As a result, they always look into different methods to help them find relief. Conventional treatment involves pharmaceutical agents, which most people are not happy about due to the fact that these drugs have significant side effects.
Furthermore, research has shown that only 30% to 50% of people find true relief with medication. Meanwhile, cryoneuromodulation or cryoneurolysis is now becoming increasingly popular as an alternative method for treating neuropathy.
What Is Cryoneuromodulation or Cryoneurolysis?
Cryoneurolysis is a type of interventional, minimally invasive, form of radiology treatment where the primary goal is to freeze certain nerves to prevent nerve conduction temporarily. It is still a very new technique, but it has the potential to help millions of people.
How Does Cryo Work?
Cryoneurolysis essentially uses a small ball of ice, which makes the pain messages associated with chronic neuropathy short circuit in a safe manner. A small probe is first cooled to between minus 10 and minus 16 degrees Celsius, and then touches the outer layer of the nerve.
Because of the extreme cold, a freezer burn is created on the target nerves. In so doing, the pain signals can no longer travel to the brain, eliminating it altogether or at least blunting it significantly. At the same time, this enables the damaged nerves to focus on regenerating and growing.
This method of treating neuropathy must be done by an interventional radiologist. A very small incision is made on the skin at the site of the pain, where the probe is then inserted. The probe is very thin, around the size of an IV needle. Through imaging guidance, the probe is then sent through the skin to the nerve that is being targeted. Pressurized gas is used to cool the probe, and this then creates ice crystals on the nerve edges.
According to experts, cryoneurolysis can help people find tremendous relief from their chronic neuropathic pain. To date, those who have tried this treatment have found that they can become less reliant on conventional pharmaceutical methods. Some have even be able to come off pharmaceutical medication altogether. Another benefit, is that pain relief for most people who have tried the method has been immediate.
Duration of Relief
Patients have reported that their pain remained at low levels for two months, but even after six months it would still be lower than the initial pain. Experts believe that patients could benefit from a single treatment for as long as a full year.
At the 38th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in New Orleans, data was presented on the safety and efficacy of cryoneurolysis. This was the only study about this procedure so far, however, and more are needed in order for it to be proven to be truly safe and efficient.
The study presented at the 38th Annual Scientific Meeting showed that 20 people, suffering from various neuralgia syndromes, had undergone cryoneurolysis. They were then offered a visual pain scale questionnaire, which allowed researchers to measure improvements. This questionnaire had to be completed immediately after the procedure, and then repeated after one week, one month, and then three months.
Before they had received treatment, the pain levels of patients were between 8 and 10 on average. One week after the procedure, the average had dropped to 2.4. Additionally, the pain relief was sustained for an average of two months, after which it would return to around a level four after six months. This was caused by nerve regeneration.
Common Side Effects
Possible complications and side effects include:
Pain at the wound site for several days
- Nerve trauma, potentially leading to worsening symptoms
- Full loss of nerve function
- Bleeding complications
At present, there have been no incidences of side effects occurring in research. However, scientists agree that they could occur. Indeed, in countries such as the United Kingdom where the treatment is more common, feelings of numbness and pain around the wound area for a few days are commonly reported.
Best Suited For
This could be beneficial for anyone who currently has neuropathy or other forms of neuralgic pain. Exactly how often they will require treatment will depend on the individual patient. Because the process is still very new, and there have not yet been any reported side effects, it isn't clear whether there are population groups for which the method may not be suitable. For instance, there is no clarity on whether it would be appropriate for pregnant women, or for those with existing medical conditions.
As a relatively new technique, exact prices are not known yet. However, it is believed that a single treatment will cost several hundred dollars. Whether or not an insurance company will pay for it will depend on the company and your plan.
In order to experience this method of treating neuropathy, you must visit an interventional radiologist. This means you will need a referral. Depending on your insurance company, you may also self-refer, although this is rare. Unfortunately, there are not many specialists yet who offer this type of treatment, and you may find it quite difficult to find someone who can
Unfortunately, treatment for neuropathy tends to involve pharmaceutical drugs. Studies have shown that these types of drugs have significant side effects, and that only 50% of people notice any improvement in their symptoms at all, so much so, in fact, that many give up on the treatment altogether.
Thankfully, natural alternatives are available as well. These include TENS, acupuncture, and Nerve Renew, all of which focus on healing the nerves, rather than masking the symptoms.
Other options include:
- TENS Therapy
Overall, cryoneurolysis looks like a very positive development in treating neuropathy and other nerve damage-related conditions. However, further studies are still needed before it can be accepted across the board. Most professionals also agree that it is most likely to have the greatest positive benefits when used in conjunction with a health supplement like Nerve Renew by the Neuropathy Treatment Group.