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Prescription Drugs for Diabetes Nerve Pain continued...

Opioid medicines. When pain is very severe, people want immediate relief. That's when you may need to see a pain specialist. Sometimes people need strong painkillers called Ultram or Ultracet, possibly in combination with Neurontin. The combination gets people past that acute stage of pain.

Both Ultram and Ultracet are FDA-approved painkillers that contain tramadol, a weak opioid (morphine-like) substance. The drug also weakly affects the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, similar to antidepressants, which reduces the perception of pain.

Tramadol is often used as a back-up for what's called "breakthrough pain" -- pain that suddenly, for no apparent reason, is worse. Tramadol is a good replacement for over-the-counter medications at those times.

Neuropathy specialists shy away from strong narcotic opioid medications. Narcotics can cause severe constipation, and there is the potential for addiction. There's also a stigma connected with using a narcotic drug, and depending on the type of work a person does, it could be a problem.

More Treatment Options for Diabetes Nerve Pain

For severe, intractable diabetes nerve pain, injections of local anesthetics such as lidocaine - or patches containing lidocaine - are used to numb the painful area.

Doctors can also:

  • Surgically destroy nerves or relieve a nerve compression that causes pain.
  • Implant a device that relieves pain.
  • Perform electrical nerve stimulation which may relieve pain. In this treatment, small amounts of electricity are used to block pain signals as they pass through the skin. Experts say its effectiveness is debatable.

Other useful aides to improve quality of life and function include:

  • Hand or foot braces that can compensate for muscle weakness or help relieve nerve compression.
  • Orthopaedic shoes that can improve gait (walking) problems, which will prevent foot injuries. 

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