Nerve pain caused by diabetes, called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, can be severe, constant, and difficult to treat. It may start as a tingling sensation, followed by numbness and pain. But there are two key points that everyone with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy should know:
Controlling your blood sugar levels can help prevent worsening nerve pain and improve your overall health at the same time.
Medications can help relieve nerve pain, make you more comfortable, and improve your quality of life.
The single most important factor in preventing neuropathy, slowing its progress once you have it, and relieving many symptoms, is better glucose control, experts say.
For most people, a bad shoe day means a blistered heel or painful arch that goes away quickly. But for people with diabetes, poor footwear can trigger serious problems, such as foot ulcers, infections, and even amputation.
Foot problems aren't inevitable, though. Ralph Guanci learned the hard way to pick his shoes with care and to stick with wearing them because they're good medicine for his feet.
Guanci, 57, a businessman in Carlisle, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 25 years...
If you have diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, talk to your doctor about ways to better control your blood sugar, including the possibility you may need to take insulin for better control.
Once you are doing all that you can to keep blood sugar levels under control -- including diet, meal planning, exercise, and medication -- you should assess with your doctor which pain medication is best to relieve your remaining symptoms.
Fortunately, medications can help relieve nerve pain from peripheral neuropathy so you can function at near-normal levels. You have many pain relief drugs from which to choose. But you may need to try several different types of pain relievers before you find the one that helps you.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers for Diabetes Nerve Pain
Some people find relief for mild diabetes nerve pain right on their drug store shelves. Common pain relievers and some topical creams may help, depending on the severity of pain.
Anyone with diabetes should talk to his or her doctor before taking any medication. Even over-the-counter medications can interact with other drugs or cause severe side effects in people with diabetes.
Here are some over-the-counter pain relief options to consider:
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These medicines reduce inflammation and relieve pain. NSAIDs available without a prescription include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve).
But NSAIDs can cause harmful side effects such as stomach irritation and bleeding in some people if taken for weeks or months. When taken long-term they can also lead to kidney and liver damage, which may be more likely in people with diabetes.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
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.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
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.