Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Pain Medicines for Diabetic Neuropathy - Topic Overview

Medicines used to relieve pain caused by damage from diabetes to the nerves that supply sensation and touch (peripheral neuropathy) may include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, desipramine, and imipramine.
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta), which is an antidepressant. It may cause dry mouth, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and sometimes dizziness and hot flashes.
  • Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine, gabapentin, and pregabalin. Anticonvulsants are also frequently prescribed to reduce pain linked with diabetic neuropathy.
  • Lidocaine or mexiletine. Lidocaine comes as a patch that you can put on your skin where the pain is the worst. Mexiletine is an oral medicine similar to lidocaine. Both medicines are used to relieve pain caused by neuropathy.
  • Capsaicin cream. Capsaicin is a substance contained in cayenne peppers. Although it may not provide complete pain relief, it may help relieve minor pain in some people. Capsaicin cream is applied directly to the skin over the painful area.
  • Nonprescription pain relievers. These include acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Although they may provide some temporary pain relief, they are not effective for long-term treatment of severe pain. Note: People with diabetes need to be especially careful when taking NSAIDs because these medicines may upset kidney function.
  • Narcotic pain relievers such as oxycodone, which may reduce moderate to severe pain from diabetic neuropathy. But narcotics are usually only given to people who do not have a personal or family history of addiction. Narcotics may also cause side effects that could make symptoms of autonomic neuropathy worse. So narcotics are not often the first type of medicine tried for symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.

If you begin taking an antidepressant or an anticonvulsant medicine for pain, it may take several weeks to see whether it is working. The dose may have to be adjusted more than once to find the best balance between pain relief and medicine side effects.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Diabetes-Friendly Summer Grill Recipes

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, WebMD's director of nutrition, created this delicious and colorful meal of grilled salmon with black bean corn salsa and salad. It's a low-calorie lunch or dinner that is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The balance of complex carbs, protein, and good fats makes it diabetes-friendly, too. Southwestern Grilled Salmon Makes 4 servings Ingredients cooking spray 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp chili powder dash of salt freshly...

Read the Diabetes-Friendly Summer Grill Recipes article > >

No matter what you or your doctor try, you may not be pain-free. Your doctor may recommend using two or more drugs together to control your pain best. Be clear with your doctor about what is working and what is not. Together you and your doctor can find the best combination of medicine and other treatments to help you the most.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 12, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Pain Medicines for Diabetic Neuropathy Topics

    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