At least one in 10 people, and one in two diabetics suffer from peripheral neuropathy, a chronic clinical condition, wherein the peripheral nervous system is damaged, P&G Health Senior Vice-President for Asia, India, Middle East & Africa Aalok Agrawal said.
“Yet many are unaware that early diagnoses can enable successful treatment outcomes, and damaged nerves can be regenerated if nerve damage has not progressed too far,” he said during the “Demystifying Neuropathy Forum” hosted by P&G Health as part of Neuropathy Awareness Week 2023.
The forum brought together globally renowned health experts with 6,000 healthcare professionals from across Asia, India, Middle East, and Africa and was hosted out of Mumbai and simulcast to eight countries.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness, tingling, prickling, and burning sensations in the hands and feet. Sufferers of PN report impacts on their quality of life including reduced physical abilities and poor sleep. Besides diabetes mellitus, obesity, alcohol misuse, and B vitamins deficiencies are other high-risk factors leading to peripheral nerve damage.
Prof. Rainer Freynhagen, head of the Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine & Pain Medicine Department at Benedictus Hospitals Tutzing & Feldafing Germany, said: “Peripheral neuropathy and pain with neuropathic components are highly prevalent in the general population. Doctors around the globe see millions of patients suffering daily from these conditions which are relatively easy to diagnose but challenging to treat, particularly in advanced stages. Around 10% of the general population worldwide is affected by neuropathic pain and 50% of these patients are not sufficiently managed.”
“Although identifying a patient with PN is not rocket science, currently published studies across different countries confirm that up to 80% of patients remain undiagnosed and untreated. Many people may report their painful sensations only after they become unbearable but for me much more important is the fact that only less than 1/3 of physicians are confident to recognize symptoms and signs of PN accordingly. To me it’s appalling that for many physicians’ neuropathic pain has often the lowest importance in comparison to other symptoms, even though it’s one of the most burdensome problems with a tremendous impact on our patients quality of life,” Freynhagen added.
For Dr. Satish Khadilkar, a renowned neurologist and head of the Neurology department at Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences in Mumbai, India, diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy is an unmet need.
“If PN is not diagnosed and treated in early stages, it usually progresses into neuropathic pain which can lead to several comorbidities which significantly impact the patient’s quality of life, social life and working life. These include depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety which also require treatment adding to the economic burden of the patient. Painful diabetic PN is significantly associated with disruptions in employment status and work productivity. Of working patients, 59% reported being less productive at work,” Khadilkar said.
“Each contact with a patient is an opportunity and primary care physicians can play a key role in diagnosing neuropathy. Easy to perform sensory tests such as vibration perception testing, pin prick test, monofilament test etc. take no longer than a few minutes and guide the diagnosis, while laboratory tests can help refine the diagnoses,” said Dr. Ankia Coetzee, Endocrinologist at the University of Stellenbosch Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dr. Inna Eiberger, Global Medical Director of the P&G Health Nerve Care Franchise, shared: “Neurotropic B vitamins are essential for nerve health and support nerve regeneration. Vitamin B1 provides energy to the nerves, vitamin B6 helps with signal transmission in nerves, while vitamin B12 supports nerve regeneration. An in-vitro study initiated by P&G Health showed that when Vitamin B1, B6, and B12 were added to nerve cultures with healthy nerve cells, there was an increase in total neurite length of 124% and an increase in the total cell body area of 55%. Nerve network of cells nourished with B1, B6, and B12, also doubled. Further in-vitro experiments have proven that Vitamins B1, B6, and B12 support nerve cell recovery after nerve cell damage.”