Ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy

When you have diabetes, high blood sugar levels can injure nerve fibers in your body, leading to diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy causes pain and numbness, particularly in your legs and feet.

Although there's no cure for diabetic neuropathy, some treatments can help you control the pain of the condition.

Medication options

Several medications are used to relieve nerve pain, but they don't work for everyone and most have side effects that must be weighed against the benefits they offer.

Among the pain-relieving treatments to consider are the following:

  • Anti-seizure medications. Although certain drugs such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica) and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol, others) are used to treat seizure disorders (epilepsy), they're also prescribed for nerve pain. Side effects may include drowsiness, dizziness and swelling.
  • Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor), desipramine (Norpramin) and imipramine (Tofranil), may provide relief for mild to moderate symptoms by interfering with chemical processes in your brain that cause you to feel pain, but they also cause a number of side effects, such as dry mouth, sweating, sedation and dizziness. For some people, antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), can relieve pain with fewer side effects. Possible side effects of SNRIs include nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, decreased appetite and constipation.
  • Lidocaine patch. This patch contains the topical anesthetic lidocaine. You apply it to the area where your pain is most severe. It has almost no side effects, although it may cause a rash in some people.
  • Opioids. Opioid analgesics, such as tramadol (Conzip, Ultram, others) or oxycodone (Oxecta, OxyContin, others), may be used to relieve pain. However, this class of medications may produce serious side effects, including addiction, constipation, drowsiness and headaches, which make long-term use of them undesirable. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about tramadol, which includes the risk of seizure and the risk of suicide for people with histories of emotional disturbances or who are prone to addiction.

A number of alternative therapies, such as capsicum cream (made from chili peppers) and acupuncture, may help with pain relief. Doctors frequently use them in conjunction with medications, but some may be effective on their own. Work with your doctor to find the approach that's best for you.

May 07, 2014 See more In-depth

See also

  1. Abdominal pain
  2. Adult bed-wetting: A concern?
  3. Anhidrosis
  4. Anti-seizure medications
  5. Autonomic neuropathy
  6. Bell's palsy
  7. Bezoars: How do they happen?
  8. Bladder control: Lifestyle strategies
  9. Bladder control problems: Medications
  10. Bladder control problems in women: Seek treatment
  11. Carpal tunnel exercises: Can they relieve symptoms?
  12. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  13. Carpal Tunnel Tune-Up
  14. Chronic pain: Medication decisions
  15. Diabetic Gastroparesis
  16. Diabetic neuropathy
  17. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  18. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  19. Diarrhea
  20. Erectile dysfunction dietary supplements
  21. Dizziness
  22. Electromyography (EMG)
  23. Erectile dysfunction
  24. Erectile dysfunction: Nonoral treatments
  25. Erectile dysfunction: A sign of heart disease?
  26. Erectile dysfunction and diabetes
  27. Erectile dysfunction treatment: How can your partner help?
  28. Erectile dysfunction medications
  29. Foot pain
  30. Gastroparesis
  31. 'Herbal viagra': Is it safe?
  32. Hyperglycemia in diabetes
  33. Hyperhidrosis
  34. Hypothyroidism: Can it cause peripheral neuropathy?
  35. Joint pain
  36. Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis or parvovirus?
  37. Managing diabetic neuropathy complications
  38. Nausea and vomiting
  39. Nerve conduction studies
  40. Numbness
  41. Numbness in hands
  42. Orthostatic hypotension (postural hypotension)
  43. Peripheral neuropathy
  44. Recreational ED drug use
  45. Sexual dysfunction
  46. Unexplained weight loss
  47. Urinary incontinence
  48. Urinary incontinence surgery in women
  49. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  50. Vaginal dryness after menopause: How to treat it?
  51. Carpal tunnel symptoms: Role of nonsurgical treatment
  52. Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery: Immediate and long-term results