BMI clinician offers new treatment for neuropathic pain

Thousands of patients across the UK who suffer from neuropathic pain as a result of damage to their nervous system could benefit from a radical new treatment that delivers fast, effective and long lasting pain relief directly to the site of their discomfort.

Neuropathic pain can be caused by trauma to the nervous system from surgery, infection, shingles or conditions such as diabetes. It affects between seven and eight per cent of the European population. Of these, five per cent class the pain they experience as severe. The new treatment, Qutenza, can help alleviate neuropathic pain quickly and unlike previous treatments does not have to be taken or applied several times throughout the day. The single application patch treatment takes just one hour to administer and is applied under observation by trained medical staff.  It can provide instant pain relief that lasts up to three months.

Qutenza’s active ingredient is a synthetic version of capsaicin, the substance found naturally in chilli pepper that gives them their heat sensation. Capsaicin delivers pain relief by directly depleting or interfering with the chemicals involved in transmitting pain impulses to the brain. This unique delivery method differs from traditional pain relief alternatives which have to be taken or applied every day travelling through the blood stream to the effected site.  Side effects of traditional treatments include drowsiness, dizziness and ataxia, which can affect a patient’s balance, coordination and speech.

Consultant Anaesthetist & Pain Specialist, Dr Maghdi Hanna at BMI The Sloane Hospital in Bromley is the first consultant in the UK to carry out this treatment. He comments, “More than five per cent of the European population, who suffer from unpleasant and often unbearable pain, caused as result of damage to the nerves located just below the skin could stand to benefit dramatically from this new treatment. Neuropathic back pain is something that can severely affect an individual’s ability to work and function normally. Often, medication prescribed to tackle pain can leave a patient feeling drowsy.

“Qutenza provides an exciting new chapter in the effective treatment of pain. It could help transform the lives of people across the UK who live with constant pain. Initial trials have proved incredibly successful and we hope with repeat treatments, patients will benefit from sustained or permanent pain relief.”

The 60 minute Qutenza procedure, which is applied under observation at BMI The Sloane Hospital, involves a patient’s skin being thoroughly cleansed before a numbing gel is used to reduce any potential discomfort experienced during treatment. The Qutenza patch is applied directly to the skin, left for one hour and then removed. The skin is again thoroughly cleansed. The patient remains under observation for four hours before being allowed to return home.

Patient case study: Catherine Philipe

Catherine, a 45 year old office worker from south London,suffered from serious pain in her foot caused by nerves. Indeed, despite two operations her foot was so swollen and painful that even if she were to be pricked by a needle she wouldn’t have felt it. Physiotherapy proved unsuccessful and Catherine found that it actually made her condition a lot worse. Dr Hanna started treating Catherine a year ago. At that point Qutenza was not available and injections, although successful, brought only temporary pain relief. In June 2011, Qutenza became available and he was able to suggest she the new revolutionary treatment. Catherine and her insurance company agreed and a patch was applied to her foot. After 2-3 weeks she noticed a change, the swelling started to go down and the pain from the operation scars diminished to a point where it was no longer unbearable.  On a scale of 1 to 10, her pain decreased from 10 down to around 3, which was a lot more manageable. She was able to walk longer distances, without the aid of a stick, and when resting the pain all but vanished. ‘The pain hasn’t completely disappeared, but the Qutenza treatment has changed my life. She has been delighted with these results and plans a further Qutenza treatment if the pains strength returns.

Janet Pratt Executive Director at BMI The Sloane Hospital commented: “We are very proud to have a consultant who is offering the latest treatment for a condition that can be extremely painful and debilitating for its sufferers. We anticipate this new treatment will really benefit people who suffer from severe pain and hope  it goes on to become the benchmark treatment for people with neuropathic pain in the UK.

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