Diabetic Neuropathy - Effective Treatments

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What are treatments for diabetic neuropathy?

While diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured, there are treatments available to help manage some of the symptoms. Another treatment goal is keeping blood glucose levels under good control so that the neuropathy does not worsen.

The pain of diabetic neuropathy can sometimes be managed with certain medications. Certain prescription antidepressants and antiseizure medications have been shown to be effective in relieving pain that originates in the nerves.

For example, duloxetine (Cymbalta) is an antidepressant that can relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy in some people. The tricyclic antidepressant drugs, including nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl) and desipramine (Norpramin), have also been used for this purpose.

Anti-seizure drugs such as gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and pregabalin (Lyrica) are drugs that can also work to relieve pain in people with diabetic neuropathy.

In severe cases, opioid analgesic medications may be needed.

Other kinds of treatment for nerve pain include patches containing the topical anesthetic agent lidocaine. Capsaicin cream is an over-the-counter topical agent that has been shown to relieve nerve pain.

Medications can also help manage the troublesome symptoms of autonomic neuropathy. For example, antispasmodic or anticholinergic drugs can help prevent urinary incontinence. Drugs to treat erectile dysfunction like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) may help some men with ED due to diabetic neuropathy. For women, vaginal estrogen creams and lubricants may provide relief of vaginal dryness and irritation.

Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections have been used to treat abnormal sweating.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: fwoodswoman, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 04

I use Lyrica. I am very fortunate to be able to afford it, but only because my insurance covers it. It is the only thing that has helped with my neuropathy pain. I have the "millions of bee stings" feeling in my feet all of the time, which sometimes goes to my knees. If not for the Lyrica (and I tried other treatments), I would have gone nuts by now. I have been diagnosed with diabetes since I was 19; I am now 47. The problem is my diabetes has been under control. I hate it when people believe my neuropathy was because of ill-control. My doctor says it just happens sometimes. I'm now starting to have weak muscles in my legs; which I am told is because of the neuropathy. I look at it as, "At least it's not cancer." I keep on keepin' on. I love the outdoors and have had to change my ways of doing things, but I still do them!

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Comment from: AZ_Engineer, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: August 07

I am 66 and have had diabetic neuropathy for about 15 years now. I have tried Lyrica and other medicines, but the results were modest at best. Lyrica has the annoying side effect of making me dizzy and causing me to stagger. On very bad days, I borrowed (or bought illegally) Oxycontin, which covered the pain by simply masking it. The best treatment, and the one I use again after a couple of years of trying everything else, is high dosages of EPO (evening primrose oil). I usually take 15 (1,300mg) capsules. There are no side effects. The herb simply seems to soothe the damaged nerves better than anything else, even Oxycontin. The cost is negligible, too. I have recently discovered that Queen Elizabeth took a large draught of EPO every evening, as it was considered to be the "Royal Herb." My daily costs for my dosage are about $0.34. I have been on EPO for at least eight of the last 15 years. Incidentally, I am able to work full time as a product development engineer. Despite the severity of the neuropathy, I lead a full, rich life. I am able to walk and get a good night's sleep. I am not addicted to anything, nor do I plan to be. Warning: Be aware that most doctors are not equipped to treat diabetic foot sores. Go to a foot-wound specialist. Over the years, I developed one wound that took a long time to heal, and it was incompetence that made it so. I have no doubt that anyone trying EPO will be helped immensely. Start off slow (four capsules per day), then increase the level to 14 to 15 per day. You will see relief within a week, not immediately.

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