Treatment of human immunodeficiency virus-related peripheral neuropathy with Scrambler Therapy: a case report

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Abstract

Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common neurological complications of HIV infection with a 30–60% lifetime prevalence. Newer HIV drugs cause less peripheral neuropathy, but patients are now living long enough to develop concomitant diabetes-related, vascular-related, and chemotherapy-related neuropathy so it continues as a major debilitating issue. Recent national CDC guidelines have stressed the importance of non-opioid therapies, especially in this population that may have had drug abuse problems. We treated a 52-year-old man who had severe disabling classic peripheral neuropathy since 1998 with Scrambler Therapy (Calmare), an FDA-cleared peripheral non-invasive neuromodulation device. His pain rapidly improved, as did his motor and sensory function, with just four 45-min treatments, and he was able to come off opioids for the first time in years. When his pain returned six months later, only two treatments were needed to resolve it. This represents the first published use of this novel, inexpensive, and non-invasive pain modality in HIV peripheral neuropathy, and should engender further trials.

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