Improved sensibility of the foot after temporary cutaneous anesthesia of the lower leg.
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Cutaneous anesthesia (EMLA_cream) of the forearm results in rapid improvement of hand sensibility, and here we applied this concept in the lower extremity. This double-blind study with 40 volunteers randomized to cutaneous application of anesthetic cream to the lower leg showed a significant improvement 2 h after treatment in touch thresholds in the EMLA group as compared with the placebo group. In 12 volunteers, fMRI examination was performed before and after treatment. Improvement was not associated with a visible cortical expansion of the cortical foot area. This novel finding may have considerable therapeutic potential in the treatment of foot sensibility disturbances in various neuropathies, such as diabetic neuropathy.