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Peripheral Neuropathy and Diabetes

Experts describe 10 ways to treat diabetic nerve pain at home.

Warm Water Treatment for Diabetic Neuropathy

Some people find that a regular warm bath provides some relief from mild nerve pain. Warm baths boost blood flow to the skin of the legs and feet. And because they're relaxing and stress- reducing, they can help make pain easier to tolerate.

"Warm baths are a good, safe option," says Kinsella, as long as you're careful about the heat. "Check the water temperature with your arm, not your feet, before stepping in."

Vitamin B Complex May Help Nerve Pain

The B vitamins (B-1, B-12, B-6, and folic acid) are essential for nerve health. Most people get enough B vitamins just from eating a healthy diet, but controlled studies differ on whether taking a B vitamin supplement improves nerve pain.

Kinsella recommends taking daily B vitamins because they are "a generally inexpensive, safe measure that will help some people." He advises 25 milligrams of thiamine (B-1), 500 micrograms of B-12, 25 milligrams of B-6, and at least 1 milligram of folic acid.

He cautions against higher doses of B-6. "Don't go higher than 50 milligrams a day." Kinsella says. Taking the supplement in high doses and long term can lead to toxicity, and cause pain and numbness in the hands and legs, and in severe cases even difficulty walking.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) are better for headaches than nerve pain, most experts say. Still, they can play a part in your home treatment plan for neuropathic pain.

McLaughlin advises talking to your doctor before using them to improve pain. "Some of these medicines can be hard on your kidneys," she says, so never go above your doctor's recommended dosages.

Capsaicin: The Hot Chili Pepper Treatment

Who knew that chili peppers could reduce nerve pain? Made from hot peppers, capsaicin cream rubbed on skin affected by nerve pain can bring relief. In one important study, more than two-thirds of people using capsaicin reported improvement in nerve pain.

Capsaicin does help, but you have to be religious about using it, Kinsella tells WebMD. "You have to apply it three or four times a day and know that for a few weeks, it will feel worse before it gets better."

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