Diabetic neuropathy impacts half of all people with diabetes. If this includes you, you're familiar with the pain neuropathy causes.
You do have options that can help relieve that pain—and the types of medications available to you may surprise you.
Remember: you can often slow neuropathy's progress with improved blood sugar control and healthy lifestyle changes, like adding short amounts of exercise into your daily routine.
There appears to be a link between diabetes and depression. The antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta) works by selectively increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine around nerve terminals where these neurotransmitters carry messages among nerve cells. It’s possible antidepressants relieve pain by affecting parts of the brain that process pain.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved duloxetine for the treatment of pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Other antidepressants prescribed for people with diabetic neuropathy are desipramine (Norpramin), bupropion (Wellbutrin), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa).
Also known as anti-epileptic drugs, anticonvulsants also affect neural function in the central nervous system. They tend to tone down the activity of select neurons and evidently interfere with the transmission of pain signals related to neuropathy. One drug, pregabalin (Lyrica), was approved by the FDA for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. Other anticonvulsants prescribed for the same purpose are gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and lamotrigine (Lamictal).
Whenever the issue of lasting, significant pain is raised, opioids or closely related drugs usually enter the conversation soon after. Two powerful opioids, oxycodone (OxyContin) and tramadol (Ultram), may be prescribed to ease pain for some people with diabetes.
In some cases, applying a pain-killing medication right where it hurts may provide relief. Placing a patch impregnated with Lidocaine directly on a part of the body that hurts can relieve pain as the anesthetic is absorbed through the skin. Lidocaine prevents peripheral nerves from sending pain messages to the brain and numbs the part of the body where it is placed.
To learn more about your pain medication options, visit your healthcare professional.