Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is the most common complication of diabetes mellitus with significant clinical sequelae that can affect a patient’s quality of life. Metabolic and microvascular factors are responsible for nerve damage, causing loss of nerve function, numbness, painful sensory symptoms, and muscle weakness. Therapy is limited to anti-convulsant or anti-depressant drugs for neuropathic pain and paresthesia. However, reduced sensation, balance and gait problems are insufficiently covered by this treatment. Previous data suggests that acupuncture, which has been in use in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many years, may potentially complement the treatment options for peripheral neuropathy. Nevertheless, more objective data on clinical outcome is necessary to generally recommend acupuncture to the public.
We developed a study design for a prospective, randomized (RCT), placebo-controlled, partially double-blinded trial for investigating the effect of acupuncture on DPN as determined by nerve conduction studies (NCS) with the sural sensory nerve action potential amplitude as the primary outcome. The sural sensory nerve conduction velocity, tibial motor nerve action potential amplitude, tibial motor nerve conduction velocity, the neuropathy deficit score, neuropathy symptom score, and numeric rating scale questionnaires are defined as secondary outcomes. One hundred and eighty patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus will be randomized into three groups (needle acupuncture, verum laser acupuncture, and placebo laser acupuncture). We hypothesize that needle and laser acupuncture have beneficial effects on electrophysiological parameters and clinical and subjective symptoms in relation to DPN in comparison with placebo.
The ACUDIN trial aims at investigating whether classical needle acupuncture and/or laser acupuncture are efficacious in the treatment of DPN. For the purpose of an objective parameter, NCS were chosen as outcome measures. Acupuncture treatment may potentially improve patients’ quality of life and reduce the socio-economic burden caused by DPN.