Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

How Is Diabetic Nerve Pain Treated?

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Relievers continued...

Lidocaine is an anesthetic that numbs the area it’s applied to. It’s available in gels and creams, both over the counter and by prescription.

Other topical creams. Salicylate is a chemical similar to aspirin. It's found in pain-relieving creams. Cortisone products contain corticosteroids, which are potent anti-inflammatory drugs that can help ease pain. Both are available at drug stores, but there’s no clear evidence that they help relieve nerve pain from peripheral neuropathy.

Prescription Drugs

Many people need to turn to prescription medication to find relief.

NSAIDs are also available by prescription. They may be different doses or different drugs altogether from what’s offered without a prescription.The side effects -- stomach trouble and greater chances of heart disease -- are the same as with other forms.

Antidepressants treat depression but have also become important in relieving chronic pain. They can work whether you're depressed or not. Those used to treat pain include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, which affect the levels of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin. Experts say they’re the most effective of the antidepressants used for pain. But they also cause side effects, like drowsiness, weight gain, dry mouth, and dry eyes. Blood pressure, heart rate problems, and dizziness can also happen with these drugs.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by altering the amount of the brain chemical serotonin. They’re effective for depression but less helpful for pain.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which treat depression by boosting the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. They may have fewer side effects than the SSRIs or TCAs.

Antiseizure drugs, used to prevent epileptic seizures, can also relieve neuropathy. The drugs control the nerve cells in the brain and other parts of your body, such as legs and arms, that transmit pain. But they can make you dizzy or sleepy, especially at high doses.

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.

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.
 
kenneth fujioka, md
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Article
 
Middle aged person
Tool
Home Healthcare
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
feet
Slideshow