Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association


PURPOSE: To determine whether treatment with monochromatic infrared photo energy was associated with increased foot sensitivity to the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament (SWM) in patients with established peripheral neuropathy.

PATIENT(S): The medical records of 1,047 patients (mean age, 73 years) with established peripheral neuropathy were examined. The peripheral neuropathy in 790 of these patients (75%) was due to diabetes mellitus.

RESULTS: Before treatment with monochromatic infrared photo energy, of the ten tested sites (five on each foot), a mean ± SD of 7.9 ± 2.4 sites were insensitive to the 5.07 Semmes-Weinstein monofilament, and 1,033 patients exhibited loss of protective sensation.

After treatment, the mean ± SD number of insensate sites on both feet was 2.3 ± 2.4, an improvement of 71%. Only 453 of 1,033 patients (43.9%) continued to have loss of protective sensation after treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Monochromatic infrared photo energy treatment seems to be associated with significant clinical improvement in foot sensation in patients, primarily Medicare aged, with peripheral neuropathy. Because insensitivity to the 5.07 Semmes-Weinstein monofilament has been reported to be a major risk factor for diabetic foot wounds, the use of monochromatic infrared photo energy may be associated with a reduced incidence of diabetic foot wounds and amputations.