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Diabetic Neuropathy - Treatment Overview

Good control of diabetes over time is the key to treating diabetic neuropathy. There is no cure for neuropathy, but keeping your blood sugar within a target range can reduce symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

To help control your diabetes, eat food that is good for you and exercise. Controlling diabetes means maintaining blood sugar levels (A1c) within the target range. This will do more than anything else to help prevent diabetic neuropathy from getting worse.

Initial and ongoing treatment

Treatment for diabetic neuropathy depends on your symptoms and the type of neuropathy that you have. In general, treatment focuses on reducing current symptoms and preventing the condition from getting worse by keeping your blood sugar level within your target range. You can keep your blood sugar levels within the target range by taking your insulin or oral diabetes medicine as prescribed, checking your blood sugar levels, following your diet for diabetes, exercising, and seeing your doctor regularly.

Also, it is important to properly care for your feet when you have diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy may cause a loss of feeling in your feet. It is possible for a sore or other foot problem to go unnoticed. Without proper foot care, an untreated foot sore can lead to a serious infection or possibly amputation.

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It is also wise to maintain healthy habits such as seeing your doctor regularly, controlling your blood pressure, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and limiting or avoiding alcohol. Further treatment depends on the specific type of diabetic neuropathy that you have along with your current symptoms.

Peripheral neuropathy

Many people with peripheral neuropathy have mild to severe pain in specific parts of their bodies. Talk with your doctor about treatment that can reduce your pain and improve your physical functioning, mood, and mental well-being. Some people find these treatments helpful:

  • Medicines such as pain relievers or creams to relieve pain. Prescription medicines often used to reduce pain from diabetic neuropathy may include medicines that are more commonly used to treat depression, such as tricyclic antidepressants and the antidepressant duloxetine hydrochloride, and medicines that control seizures, such as pregabalin and gabapentin. These medicines may be tried to reduce your pain even though you do not have depression or seizures.
  • Complementary therapies such as acupuncture and biofeedback
  • Physical therapy such as exercises, stretching, and massage. If you are told to use heat or ice, be careful. Neuropathy can make it hard for you to feel changes in temperature.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which is a type of therapy that reduces pain by applying brief pulses of electricity to nerve endings in the skin
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