Research project seeks people with diabetes who experience nerve pain

People with diabetes who experience nerve pains, and osteopaths who have worked with such patients, are invited to take part in the development of a manual/physical therapy-based intervention for people with painful DPN (diabetic peripheral neuropathy).

Researchers from a joint research project by Imperial College London, King’s College London and University College of Osteopathy are appealing for help from people with DPN, as they are keen for those with personal experience to be involved in the research from the get-go. These patient partners will be reimbursed for their expertise and time.

The researchers recognise that people with diabetes and DPN lack good, non-drug treatment options and that the associated pain can be severely debilitating, leading to sleep problems and other limitations. Most of the currently available drugs are either not very effective or come with side effects, so the team will explore new options involving hands-on treatment and modern pain management skills.

The research team are hoping to develop a new non-drug treatment for people with painful DPN based on osteopathy (a manual therapy) and approaches that could impact the way people think and behave (cognitive-behavioural).

The team is encouraging people with Type 1 or 2 diabetes and nerve pains to get involved. Participants do not need experience of treatments that are not based on medication, such as massage, manual therapy, physiotherapy, and psychological or exercise-based interventions. Nevertheless, some experience would help them to understand preferences better.

They are also seeking osteopaths who have worked with people with painful polyneuropathies, such as diabetic, HIV-related, or chemotherapy-related painful neuropathy. The research team hope that, with training, osteopaths could provide care for people with painful diabetic neuropathies.

Participants can decide how much they want to be involved. For example, they can:

  • Have a one-off video call with us (you could be living anywhere)
  • Meet with us in person to develop and discuss a hands-on approach (in or near London)
  • Communicate with us regularly, providing input at different stages – from the development of the treatment to the preparation of a small clinical study.

Those involved will be reimbursed for their time – £20 per hour – and have within-London travel expenses covered up to £10.40 per day.

The research is led by David Hohenschurz-Schmidt, osteopath and pain researcher at Imperial College London. The research team consists of internationally recognised researchers in pain, neuropathies, psychology and psychological interventions, diabetes, and clinical trials.

Find out more on the University College of Osteopathy website and get involved by emailing David Hohenschurz-Schmidt, at or call 0770 8989392.

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