Research demonstrates that the topical gel clonidine decreases foot pain for diabetic patients suffering from neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that results from high blood sugar levels, most often striking the legs and feet. According to the National Institutes of Health, around half of all people with will develop nerve damage. However, symptoms often do not arise until 10 to 20 years after diabetes has been diagnosed.

Depending on the affected nerves, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in the extremities to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart.

At Johns Hopkins University, researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind control study on clonidine as a topical treatment for diabetic neuropathic pain. To determine the patients' sensitivity to pain, researchers first applied 0.1 percent capsaicin (generates a heat sensation on skin) to an area on the patients' legs for 30 minutes. Based on those results, patients were assigned to have either 0.1 percent topical clonidine gel or a placebo applied to their feet three times a day for 12 weeks.

Patients treated with clonidine experienced decreased foot pain compared to the placebo group. In those who felt any level of pain to capsaicin, clonidine proved superior to the placebo treatment.

Researchers concluded that topical clonidine gel significantly reduces the level of foot pain resulting from diabetic neuropathy.