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Treatment for diabetes nerve pain

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the term for nerve pain caused by diabetes. The symptoms can range from tingling to numbness and pain.

Treatment for diabetes nerve pain may including tackling the symptoms themselves, as well as making sure diabetes is as well managed as possible.

Good blood glucose control is the single most important factor in preventing neuropathy, slowing its progress once you have it, and relieving many symptoms.

Over-the-counter pain relievers for diabetes nerve pain

Some people find relief for mild diabetes nerve pain on their pharamcist's shelves. Common pain relievers and some topical creams may help, depending on the severity of pain.

Anyone with diabetes should talk to their doctor before taking any medication. Even over-the-counter medications can interact with other medications or cause severe side effects in people with diabetes.

Here are some over-the-counter pain relief options to consider:

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These drugs reduce inflammation and relieve pain. NSAIDs available without a prescription include aspirin and ibuprofen.

But NSAIDs can cause harmful side effects such as stomach irritation and bleeding in some people if taken for weeks or months. When taken long-term they can also lead to kidney and liver damage, which may be more likely in people with diabetes.

Paracetamol and other over-the-counter medicines containing paracetamol relieve diabetes nerve pain without reducing inflammation. These medications do not cause the stomach irritation that NSAIDs do. However, taking more paracetamol than recommended can lead to liver damage. It is important to read labels and check with your pharmacist if you have concerns.

Other topical creams. Salicylate is a chemical similar to aspirin, and is found in some pain-relieving creams. Hydrocortisone creams contain corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory drugs that can help relieve pain. Both are available in pharmacies, but there is no clear evidence that they help relieve nerve pain from peripheral neuropathy.

Prescription medicines for diabetes nerve pain

Many people need to turn to prescription medication to find relief for diabetes nerve pain. Your choices include:

NSAIDs. Although some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available over the counter, your doctor may suggest higher doses, or different NSAIDs, that require a prescription. People with diabetes are more at risk of kidney damage that can occur with NSAIDs. In addition, people with diabetes are at higher risk of heart disease, and prescription NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart problems.

Antidepressants. Although antidepressants were developed for depression, these drugs have also become important in relieving chronic pain - whether the person is depressed or not. Antidepressants used to treat pain include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) primarily affect the levels of the brain chemicals noradrenaline and serotonin.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a newer form of antidepressant. These drugs work by altering the amount of the brain chemical serotonin.
  • Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work by increasing availability of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline.
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