More than 20 million people in the United States have been estimated to have some form of peripheral neuropathy. Still, this figure may be significantly higher—not all people with neuropathy symptoms are tested for the disease, and tests currently do not look for all forms of neuropathy. In addition, neuropathy is often misdiagnosed due to its complex array of symptoms.
More than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified, each with its symptoms and prognosis. Symptoms vary depending on the kind of nerves—motor, sensory, or autonomic—that are damaged.
Motor nerves control the movement of all muscles under conscious control, such as those used for walking, grasping things, or talking.
Sensory nerves transmit information such as the feeling of a light touch, temperature, or the pain from a cut. Autonomic nerves control organs to regulate activities that people do not control consciously, such as breathing, digesting food, and heart and gland functions.
Stem cells show great promise and offer significant benefits compared to other, more traditional treatments such as medication. Studies show that it can reduce the total damage to peripheral nerves and improving tissue regeneration.
In 2015, researchers published the results of a study using autologous stem cells to treat patients with diabetic foot gangrene due to peripheral neuropathy. Results showed treatment with stem cells was safe, and patients had reduced pain in the limb, cold sensation was reduced, and clinical symptoms were improved. In addition, the ulcers healed gradually, and the patient’s quality of life improved.