Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by a person’s diabetes. There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy:
- Peripheral neuropathy, the most common type, that affects the arms, legs, hands, feet and toes.
- Autonomic neuropathy that affects the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, urinary tract, digestive system, sex organs and sweat glands.
- Proximal neuropathy that affects the thighs, hips, buttocks and legs.
- Focal neuropathy that affects the eyes, facial muscles, ears, pelvis, lower back, chest, abdomen, thighs, legs and feet.
Some medications may be used to help combat diabetic neuropathy pain, though the success of any of them will depend upon the patient and other factors. The side effects of each should be considered, as well.
Neurontin, Lyrica and Tegretol are all sometimes prescribed for treating neuropathy pain. Each of these is an anti-seizure medication, and Neutrontina and Lyrica have made headlines about some class-action lawsuits due to side effects of the drugs.
Antidepressants in small doses have been found to help relieve pain in some patients. Some of these medications that may be prescribed include amitriptyline, Pamelor and Norpramin.
Opiods such as Ultram and OxyContin can be prescribed for pain caused by diabetic neuropathy. However, these drugs are not advised for long-term use due to a number of unpleasant side effects. These side effects include addiction.
A lidocane patch may be used, although it can cause a rash due to the topical medication contained in it.
Special shoe inserts, called orthotics, can be used to help keep feet at the right angle and in the right position in order to minimize diabetic neuropathy pain. A podiatrist can offer assistance in either custom creating some or in finding the best pair for any given patient.
Some alternative methods are used for helping to relieve pain from diabetic neuropathy. These include the popular capsaicin cream, which is made from the capsaicin found in chili peppers, and acupuncture.
Addressing the Root Problem
One of the best ways to help combat diabetic neuropathy pain is to deal with the root cause: diabetes. Keeping diabetes under control and well-managed can make a huge difference. In fact, some type 2 diabetics can experience a reversal of the disease when managed properly and carefully.
Using tips for basic care can help reduce neuropathy pain. These tips include using non-impact exercise; wearing proper foot wear; treating hammertoes, bunions and corns; and not going barefoot.
As with concerns for diabetes in general, patients with diabetic neuropathy should be vigilant about checking feet regularly for any type of injuries or wounds. Neuropathy interferes with the ability of the patient to feel wounds when they occur, so a visual inspection is crucial.
Diabetic neuropathy pain and treatment comes in several forms and will vary from patient to patient. The best remedy is to carefully manage diabetes.This is because all of the things done to help manage it could reduce the risk for diabetic neuropathy as well as increase the odds for a reversal of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetic Neuropathy. Treatment and Drugs. Mayo Clinic Staff. March 17, 2010. https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetic-neuropathy/DS01045/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
Diabetic Nerve Pain: 10 Foot Care Tips to Protect Yourself. WebMD. https://diabetes.webmd.com/tips-foot-care