Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Antidepressant Approved for Diabetic Pain

Cymbalta OK'd to Treat Pain Caused by Diabetic Neuropathy

WebMD Health News

Sept. 8, 2004 -- A drug recently approved to treat depression has now received the FDA's approval to treat hand and leg pain caused by nerve damage in people with diabetes.

The approval makes Cymbalta the first and only FDA-approved drug to treat the disorder, known as diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain. The condition affects up to 5 million people in the U.S. and is a complication of diabetes and may cause burning, stabbing, or shooting pain as a result of nerve damage thought to be caused by high blood sugar levels.

It's the second FDA approval within a month for Cymbalta, which was approved on Aug. 3 as a treatment for major depression in adults.

Antidepressant Eases Diabetic Pain

The FDA based its approval on the results of two, 12-week clinical trials in nearly 1,000 nondepressed adults who had diabetic neuropathy for at least six months.

Both studies showed that Cymbalta significantly reduced overall pain compared with a placebo (sugar pill). More than half of those treated with Cymbalta (58%) reported at least a 30% reduction in pain compared with nearly a third (34%) of those treated with the placebo.

The studies also showed that the 60-milligram-per-day dose of the drug was better tolerated and caused fewer side effects than a higher, 120-milligram-per-day dose of the drug, although both doses were safe and effective.

Researchers found participants reported improvement in pain symptoms as early as in the first week of treatment. Cymbalta also reduced nighttime pain, which is common in people with diabetic neuropathy and often causes sleeping problems.

Researchers say Cymbalta does not reverse or treat the underlying nerve damage caused by the condition. But they believe the drug eases the pain caused by this condition by increasing levels of two chemicals in the brain (serotonin and norepinephrine) that are thought to regulate people's emotions and sensitivity to pain. Increasing these chemicals is thought to improve a person's ability to regulate and tolerate pain.

In clinical trials of Cymbalta for diabetes-related pain, the most common side effects were nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, constipation, dry mouth, increased sweating, decreased appetite, and fatigue. Most people were not bothered enough by side effects to stop taking Cymbalta.

If you are taking a type of antidepressant called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, thioridazine, or have uncontrolled narrow angle glaucoma you should not take Cymbalta.

Cymbalta is made by Eli Lilly and Co., which is also a WebMD sponsor.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article