Dealing with Diabetic Nerve Pain

There are many symptoms associated with diabetes; one of them is nerve pain or peripheral neuropathy, characterized by pain, numbness, or discomfort in the feet and hands.  This has made many diabetics unable to live through their lives comfortably.  Fortunately, there is a variety of choices to treat the discomfort.

Apart from controlling the blood sugar level, regular exercise, and maintaining a normal weight, peripheral neuropathy needs to be controlled through medications.  These drugs have its advantages and disadvantages; and it is up to you to weigh in your options.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

These medications are purchased in drugstores even without a prescription and are recommended for mild pain.  Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are the most common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) available. 

These could relieve pain and inflammation, but long-term usage may also cause stomach irritation, kidney and liver damage, high blood pressure, and fluid retention.  Acetaminophen, meanwhile, can soothe the pain but not the inflammation.  It does not upset the stomach, but it may not be effective in treating nerve pain.

Creams, gels, and oils

Topical creams and gels, which are applied directly over the skin where the pain and discomfort manifest, are recommended for mild symptoms of diabetic nerve pain.  Capsaicin is made from crushed chili peppers and works by depleting nerve endings that transmit pain signals. 

Recommended application is four to five times a day and it takes several weeks before its effectiveness is felt.  However, capsaicin may interfere with wound healing.  Meanwhile, lidocaine is a topical anesthetic that numbs the area where it is applied.

Botanical extracts

Botanical oil blends may provide rapid relief, albeit temporary, to chronic nerve pain.  Neuragen, for example, is a combination of extracts from geranium, lavender, bergamot, eucalyptus, and tea tree.

Prescription medication

There are several NSAID that cater to nerve pain, but purchasing them requires a doctor’s prescription.  Examples of these are celebrex, lodine, and Relafen.  These drugs are similar to non-prescription NSAID when it comes to effect and side-effects, but there is an added risk of heart problems among prescription NSAID. 

Anti-seizure drugs like Neurontin and Lyrica may also help people deal with depression that can accompany nerve pain.  Antidepressants, meanwhile, can also help relieve peripheral neuropathy as well as depression.  Selective serotonin reuptate inhibitors (SSRI) like Paxil or Prozac may work with its increased level of serotonin and can be a good choice for both nerve pain and depression. 

Meanwhile, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptate inhibitors (SNRI) like Cymbalta or Effexor work by changing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine that promote stress response and release of glucose from our body’s energy source.  Tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil or Imipramine do not relieve nerve pain directly, but they can lower the pain threshold and make people drowsy enough to sleep better. 

However, beware of its potential side-effects such as dry mouth, constipation, and fast heart rate.  Finally, opioids like morphine, contained in painkiller Ultram, are often recommended by doctors for moderate to severe pain. These drugs, however, can cause dependency if used long-term.

Source:  Web MD