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Diabetes Health Center

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How Is Diabetic Nerve Pain Treated?

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Prescription Drugs continued...

Opioid medicines. When your problem is severe, you want immediate relief. That's when you should see a pain specialist. You might need strong medicines that contain a weak opioid (a morphine-like substance). These drugs also affect the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, similar to antidepressants, and reduce your feeling of pain.

Opioids can provide a better solution for "breakthrough pain" -- a kind that suddenly worsens for no apparent reason -- than OTC drugs.

Neuropathy specialists shy away from strong narcotic opioid medications. They can cause severe constipation, and there’s a chance you could get addicted. There's also a stigma connected with using this type of drug. And depending on the type of work you do, it could be a problem.

More Treatment Options

Injections of local anesthetics like lidocaine -- or patches that contain it -- can also numb the area.

Doctors could 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 your quality of life include:

  • Hand or foot braces that can help muscle weakness or relieve nerve compression
  • Orthopaedic shoes that can improve walking problems, which will prevent foot injuries

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 29, 2015
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