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Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers for Diabetes Nerve Pain continued...

However, the risk is low.

Acetaminophe n. Acetaminophen and other over-the-counter drugs containing acetaminophen relieve diabetes nerve pain without reducing inflammation. These medications do not cause the stomach irritation that NSAIDs do. However, taking more acetaminophen than recommended can lead to liver damage. It is important to read labels and check with your pharmacist.

Capsaicin. Found naturally in chili peppers, capsaicin is found in drug stores under various brand names, including Capzasin-P and Zostrix. 

Capsaicin is thought to ease pain by reducing a chemical called substance P, which is involved in transmitting pain signals through the nerves. On a short-term basis, it is an effective approach. But there are concerns about the long-term consequences. These same nerves play a role in wound healing, and there is concern that capsaicin could prevent wound healing, which is already a big problem if you have diabetes.

Lidocaine. Lidocaine is an anesthetic that numbs the area it has been applied to. It is available in gels and creams, both over the counter and by prescription. Some product names include Topicaine and Xylocaine.

Other topical creams. Salicylate is a chemical similar to aspirin, and is found in pain-relieving creams like Aspercreme and Bengay. Cortisone creams contain corticosteroids, which are potent anti-inflammatory drugs that can help relieve pain. Both are available at drug stores, but there is no clear evidence that they help relieve nerve pain from peripheral neuropathy.

Prescription Drugs 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. There are many prescription NSAIDs to choose from including, Celebrex, Lodine, and Relafen. People with diabetes are more at risk of kidney damage that can occur with NSAIDs. In addition, people with diabetes are at high risk of heart disease, and prescription NSAIDs may raise 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 norepinephrine and serotonin. TCAs are the most commonly used antidepressant and, according to experts, the best studied, and the most effective of the antidepressants used for pain.

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