The Knee Institute

Unique therapies ease painful neuropathy

By Joyce Wiswell for The Knee Institute
The most common culprits of peripheral neuropathy are diabetes, side effects from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, and trauma to the spine from a severe physical injury.

Do you have burning and tingling in your feet, an uncomfortable “pins and needles” feeling? You’re not alone – the Neuropathy Association estimates that 20 million Americans suffer from this condition, called peripheral neuropathy. Many people are told that there’s nothing that can be done to alleviate the ailment, which besides causing great discomfort can lead to balance problems, muscle weakness and an increased risk of falls.

But in West Bloomfield, the Knee Institute & Regenerative Medicine has developed a new comprehensive protocol that helps alleviate the pain – without surgery or drugs.

The first step is discovering exactly what is causing the neuropathy. The most common culprits are diabetes (up to 70 percent of diabetics have the condition), side effects from cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, and trauma to the spine from a severe physical injury. But since there are actually more than 100 types of neuropathy, determining its cause is crucial to determining a cure.

The Neuropathy Association estimates that 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy, a painful burning and tingling felt in the feet.

“We do a significant evaluation using a series of diagnostic tools to get an accurate picture,” said Robert Willard, general manager and director of operations at the Knee Institute, who himself has benefitted from the treatment. “Our process offers short-term pain relief and we can also get rid of the neuropathy in the long term.”

Ironically, numbness of the foot often accompanies the painful prickling sensations of neuropathy, which can lead to obvious dangers. “I could step on a piece of glass and not even know it,” said Willard.

Treatments at the Knee Institute & Regenerative Medicine may include the use of Quell, an FDA-approved device worn on the calf that stimulates the nerves to trigger the release of your body’s natural pain blockers. Pain is blocked at the spinal cord, which gives widespread relief.

Another option is the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP), which contains 10 times more growth factors than normal plasma. Blood is drawn from the patient and centrifuged to increase the concentration of platelets. The resulting PRP is then injected into the foot to promote the body’s natural healing process. The therapy shows great promise in boosting nerve regeneration.

“A lot of professional athletes utilize PRP,” Willard said. “When I had it done, I started to feel things again after just three or four days. Before PRP, I could not even feel the floor.”

Other methods employed at the Knee Institute include the use of stem cells harvested from human umbilical cords (not embryos) and unique physical therapy techniques to help patients gain sensation in their foot and thus reduce the likelihood of falls.

The comprehensive treatment program generally runs for eight weeks and typically includes physical therapy three times a week and a total of five PRP sessions. But just as each patient’s peripheral neuropathy is different, so is the Knee Institute’s approach.

There is one constant, however – no drugs.

As Willard noted, “We have a big sign in our waiting room that says, ‘We do not prescribe opiates.’”

For more information, call The Knee Institute at 248-430-5113 or visit