HomeDiabetesHow to Treat Pain from Diabetic Neuropathy

How to Treat Pain from Diabetic Neuropathy

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Are you scuffling with ache in your toes, legs, or palms from diabetic neuropathy? That is an particularly irritating situation that’s each under-assessed and undertreated. And for those who do search reduction, it’s typical to must strive many alternative remedies earlier than hitting on a mixture that works.

Diabetic neuropathy ache is precisely the type of situation the place you would possibly want the knowledge of individuals which have been there earlier than. We reviewed greater than 100 feedback in our Fb group and discussion board to get an concept of how our neighborhood, made up of standard folks with diabetes, offers with this drawback.

This text will discover each the mainstream science of neuropathy ache mitigation and the on a regular basis recommendation of Diabetes Every day neighborhood members.

What’s Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a kind of nerve injury frequent in folks with diabetes. Neuropathy can have an effect on many components of the physique, together with the digestive system, the guts, the eyes, the bladder, the sweat glands, and sexual organs.

The nerve injury that largely impacts the toes, palms, legs, and arms is known as peripheral neuropathy. This situation is commonly very uncomfortable, with sufferers feeling ache, tingling, burning, prickling, numbness, and full lack of feeling within the extremities. The ache could also be worse at night time. These signs are typically observed first within the toes.

Diabetic neuropathy, like different diabetes issues, is finally attributable to continual excessive blood sugars. Should you’ve begun to note the ache related to this situation, it’s best to go to your physician or endocrinologist quickly. Diabetic neuropathy might point out that you’re additionally susceptible to different critical issues.

Blood Sugar Management

If there’s one therapy for neuropathic ache that the Diabetes Every day neighborhood can wholeheartedly endorse, it’s optimum blood sugar management.

Diabetic neuropathy is primarily attributable to excessive blood sugar. Attaining a decrease, more healthy blood sugar is the easiest way to handle the basis reason for neuropathy, and should provide each short- and long-term reduction. It’s unclear if nerve injury could be reversed, however additional injury could be prevented by way of superior blood sugar management.

If there’s one other good motive to prioritize blood sugar management, it’s the truth that diabetic neuropathy is an early warning signal of some very harmful diabetes issues. The toes of a affected person with neuropathy could also be much less able to therapeutic wounds, which might finally “result in limb compromise, native to systemic an infection, and septicemia, and even dying.” A number of of our neighborhood members have had terrifying battles with septicemia.

Prescription Medication

Don’t hesitate to talk to your physician about prescription treatment for this situation. Prescribed drugs don’t work for everybody, however they may give you the results you want.

In our neighborhood, the most well-liked pharmaceutical therapy appears to be gabapentin (Neurontin). Gabapentin is an oral prescription treatment that acts on the mind, altering the best way that it perceives ache. It’s also used as an anti-convulsant, to stop seizures in sufferers with epilepsy and associated circumstances.

Your physician is prone to begin you on a low dose, and you might want to extend that dose with a purpose to really feel an impact, or if the situation will get worse.

Gabapentin doesn’t work for everybody. A rigorous research discovered that solely 35% of research individuals loved vital ache discount, in comparison with 21% who got a placebo, and that “over half of these handled with gabapentin is not going to have worthwhile ache reduction.”

Gabapentin can have unwanted effects, together with pores and skin points, dizziness, and drowsiness. A small minority of customers expertise intense temper adjustments which will embody suicidal ideas.

Lyrica (pregabalin) will be the second hottest drug neuropathic ache in our neighborhood. Lyrica is expounded to gabapentin, belonging to the identical class of anti-convulsants.

The proof means that Lyrica and different pregabalins have an identical impression to gabapentin. A big evaluation concluded that “Some folks will derive substantial profit with pregabalin; extra could have average profit, however many could have no profit or will discontinue therapy.”

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) formally recommends three different varieties of medication for the therapy of diabetic neuropathy. These three are much less generally prescribed, and consequently, are much less generally mentioned in our neighborhood:

  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), together with duloxetine, venlafaxine, and desvenlafaxine. SNRIs are anti-depressants which can be prescribed for quite a lot of psychological well being points, together with nervousness and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction. They are often efficient in decreasing neuropathic ache and, as a bonus, might enhance temper and different high quality of life components.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), similar to amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and imipramine. TCAs are additionally anti-depressants, and have been used for many years. TCAs are thought of “efficient” within the therapy of neuropathic ache, however are related to unwanted effects, together with weight acquire.
  • Sodium channel blockers (similar to carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, lamotrigine, valproic acid, lacosamide). Like gabapentinoids (together with gabapentin and pregabalin), these medication are used to stop seizures. Sodium channel blockers usually are not typically prescribed, maybe because of the probability of unwanted effects, however the AAN has concluded that they’ve an identical skill to cut back ache because the previous medication.
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The AAN believes that the medication named above are of roughly related effectiveness, and that docs ought to subsequently make their suggestions primarily based on “potential opposed results, affected person comorbidities, price, and affected person choice.”

The opposite vital factor to notice right here is that none of those medication is completely efficient, and that docs are utterly unable to foretell which medication will work for which sufferers. Diabetic neuropathy is a mysterious situation, and specialists don’t utterly perceive why medication do and don’t work to cut back ache. It could take many months of experimentation with a collection of prescription drugs to discover a tablet and a dose that works for you.

Lastly, a phrase about opioids. These highly effective painkillers are, in reality, probably the most commonly-prescribed therapy in the USA for diabetic neuropathy. Nevertheless, they don’t seem to be widespread within the Diabetes Every day neighborhood. That could be for the most effective: specialists from the AAN consider that the medication shouldn’t be prescribed for one of these continual ache. Plainly most docs are unaware of that advice; a distressing 2020 research within the journal Ache discovered that the majority sufferers are prescribed opioids “earlier than attempting even one guideline-recommended treatment for peripheral neuropathy,” and that far too many sufferers find yourself on continual opioid remedy. The dreadful impression of opioid habit is by now very well-known.

Psychological Well being and Sleep

It could sound shocking, however the American Academy of Neurology really recommends that individuals with ache from diabetic neuropathy ought to search therapy for sleep and temper issues first, earlier than they discover pain-relieving treatment.

Whereas temper or sleep enhancements don’t really deal with the basis reason for painful diabetic neuropathy, they do considerably alter our notion of ache.

It stands to motive {that a} well-rested and completely happy individual is healthier geared up to cope with continual ache. If that sounds too apparent, contemplate that individuals with diabetes undergo from each despair (and associated psychological well being points) and sleep issues way more incessantly than common, and that these circumstances far too generally go unrecognized and untreated.

The subsequent time you see your healthcare supplier, contemplate whether or not try to be discussing your sleep and psychological well being, along with your neuropathy ache and discomfort.

Topical Remedies

There’s a bewildering number of over-the-counter lotions and sprays obtainable for neuropathy ache. Specialists are optimistic about the usage of topical remedies, however scientific proof of their efficacy is a bit murky.

Within the AAN steerage, 4 topical remedies have been rated as “probably extra doubtless than placebo to enhance ache.” These remedies are:

  • Capsaicin
  • Nitrosense patches
  • Citrullus colocynthis
  • Glyceryl trinitrate spray

A distinct latest evaluation recognized many extra chemical compounds that could be useful, together with even botox injections. This second evaluation highlighted lidocaine and capsaicin patches as two therapies with notably good information supporting their efficacy.

One model that our neighborhood likes is Biofreeze, which makes use of menthol as its lively ingredient. Biofreeze is obtainable in many alternative utility kinds, together with sprays, gels, patches, and wipes.

However to place it merely, no person actually is aware of which topical remedies work greatest, and what works for you might not work for another person. It would in all probability take trial and error to discover a product you want. We encourage you to work together with your physician to seek out good choices.


Train is a tough topic for some folks with neuropathic ache, as a result of a exercise itself might set off that ache. There may be additionally the concern that train is prone to trigger issues for folks with delicate toes.

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Nevertheless, there’s proof that train is healthful for these broken nerves. A 2014 evaluation concluded that “it’s vital to grasp that routine train might not solely assist forestall a few of these causes [of neuropathic pain], however that it has additionally confirmed to be an efficient technique of assuaging among the situation’s most distressing signs.” And specialists have argued that the advantages of train outweigh the chance of foot accidents.

Train will also be an vital a part of a holistic therapy plan for diabetic neuropathy. Even low-intensity train is thought to assist decrease each blood sugar and ldl cholesterol, forestall weight acquire, and enhance each temper and sleep, all of which suggests it can assist fight each the basis causes of neuropathic ache and your skill to tolerate ache.

Hashish and CBD

When polling the Diabetes Every day neighborhood, maybe the most important shock was how enthusiastically so a lot of our readers endorsed hashish for neuropathic ache reduction. Many have ranked it as their favourite technique to alleviate or address the ache and discomfort.

Certainly, there’s some proof that hashish could be efficient. A small 2015 research discovered that “inhaled hashish demonstrated a dose-dependent discount in diabetic peripheral neuropathy ache.” A follow-up by the identical group discovered an identical end result.

Usually talking, specialists are considerably hesitant. In 2021, the Worldwide Affiliation for the Examine of Ache introduced that, because of a scarcity of fine scientific proof, it couldn’t endorse the usage of hashish for ache reduction. The group additionally famous that there are vital analysis gaps and far work to be finished.

If medicinal-use cannabinoid merchandise are allowed in your space, your physician could also be completely happy to put in writing you a prescription. If adult-use hashish is allowed, you don’t want a prescription. However, please bear in mind that the authorized standing of hashish use stays complicated in the USA. It’s unlawful on the federal stage, however a grey space is more and more rising, for each medicinal and leisure use, as an increasing number of states go new legislature.

To study extra about hashish and diabetes—together with blood sugar results and a particular warning for sufferers with kind 1 diabetes—please learn our article, Marijuana and Diabetes, What You Have to Know.

A few of our neighborhood members additionally advocate CBD oil, both consumed or utilized on to the pores and skin. Most medical authorities consider that the proof in favor of CBD oil is extraordinarily skinny, and warning sufferers to be cautious of anecdotes and advertising and marketing claims. Is CBD oil simply snake oil? It’s unattainable to say. A few of our neighborhood members consider it really works, and there’s some proof that CBD oil can scale back neuropathic ache.

Elevating Toes

It’s the toes, greater than another physique half, that undergo most from peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes can decrease the blood circulation to the toes, which ends up in all method of points, together with slower wound therapeutic and elevated threat of an infection.

Insufficient blood circulation might contribute to nerve injury and ache within the toes. Elevating your toes might deliver some ache reduction.

When sensible, put your toes up whereas sitting. You should definitely arise, stretch your legs, and wiggle your toes and toes each on occasion. If the tingling, burning, and ache are at their worst while you’re in mattress, experiment with elevating your toes by resting them on a pillow, even when you sleep.

Soaking Toes

Many individuals with diabetic neuropathy discover quick reduction from a superb tub. Some go a step additional, and embody Epsom salts of their soaking ritual.

A 2020 research discovered that {an electrical} foot tub full of saltwater provided vital ache discount. (The nice and cozy water tub with out salt had no impact).

However it is very important know that main diabetes authorities disagree with this recommendation, partially as a result of an extended soak will not be nice for sufferers with weak toes. The American Diabetes Affiliation very plainly states: “don’t soak your toes.” In case your toes are liable to slow-healing wounds, it could be smart to watch out with this treatment.

Compression Socks

Opinions differ on the knowledge of sporting compression socks. Some sources declare that these socks, which gently squeeze the decrease legs, promote wholesome blood circulation. Others declare the precise reverse and say that compression socks prohibit blood circulation.

Compressions socks are hottest amongst folks with diabetes which have foot and leg swelling points. Research have discovered that compression socks are efficient in treating decrease leg edema (swelling) with out compromising circulation. We weren’t, nonetheless, capable of finding any revealed research evaluating compression socks and ache from diabetic neuropathy.

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A few of our neighborhood members discover them helpful for the therapy of neuropathic ache, however many specialists assume they’re a nasty concept for folks with diabetes. The Nationwide Institutes of Well being tells folks with diabetes foot points: “don’t put on tight socks.”

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a fatty acid and antioxidant that’s discovered each within the human physique and in lots of meals. It’s been proposed as a substitute therapy for a lot of circumstances, together with neuropathic ache.

A number of of our neighborhood members take ALA dietary supplements (they need to be straightforward to seek out in most pharmacies). ALA is theorized to enhance “nerve blood circulation, nerve conduction velocity, and several other different measures of nerve operate.” And there’s some scientific proof that ALA actually does assist to alleviate neuropathic ache.

B Nutritional vitamins

B nutritional vitamins have a posh relationship with the human nervous system; too little or an excessive amount of of sure B nutritional vitamins can straight trigger nerve injury.

Some Diabetes Every day readers take a B vitamin complement, and consider that it helps with their neuropathic ache. The science, although, is unclear. A evaluation of 13 research concluded that “the proof is inadequate to find out whether or not vitamin B is helpful or dangerous,” however that the dietary supplements have been “typically well-tolerated.” There may be some weak proof that vitamin B12 could also be useful.

Therapeutic massage

Whether or not they do it themselves, persuade a beloved one, or rent knowledgeable, a number of of our neighborhood members discover reduction from therapeutic massage. Though the science on this isn’t precisely settled, a fast google search will present that there are a lot of protocols on the market for therapeutic massage for ache reduction from neuropathy.

We recognized two research that discovered vital ache discount from aromatherapy therapeutic massage, though it’s unclear if the fragrant oil or the therapeutic massage was the vital component, or in the event that they’re each crucial for reduction. A 2016 research discovered that “Thai foot therapeutic massage” achieved vital outcomes, and a big 2019 meta-analysis discovered that Chinese language acupressure therapeutic massage, when mixed with a Chinese language medicinal footbath, additionally provided enchancment.

In fact, you don’t really want a randomized managed trial to know if a little bit foot rub feels good. This may be thought of a nonpharmaceutical remedy with few downsides, one that’s properly price a strive.

Spinal Wire Stimulation

Spinal twine stimulation requires the implantation of a small system within the again. The system delivers delicate electrical pulses alongside skinny wires to the spinal twine. These pulses basically block ache indicators from reaching the mind. Spinal twine stimulation been used for years for a lot of varieties of continual ache (within the US, it’s mostly used for failed again surgical procedure syndrome).

The scientific proof in favor of spinal twine stimulation for folks with diabetes is encouraging, however nonetheless rising. A 2021 evaluation famous that there have but to be any blinded and randomized long-term trials of the expertise, however observational trials counsel that many sufferers do get pleasure from long-lasting ache reduction. The American Affiliation of Scientific Endocrinology has not too long ago endorsed high-frequency spinal twine stimulation as an possibility for folks with “painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy that failed at the least one treatment.”

Diabetes Every day spoke to a person with kind 2 diabetes who suffered from actually debilitating ache, and had no luck with most of the different treatments mentioned on this article — however spinal stimulation massively improved his signs, virtually in a single day.

When Nothing Works

Sadly, a few of our neighborhood members have by no means discovered something that helps relieve their ache. If that’s the case, we encourage you to re-prioritize blood sugar management and contemplate way of life adjustments that may promote stress discount and good psychological well being.

There are additionally many assets on the market for those who cope with continual ache, such because the U.S. Ache Basis, which has a wealth of data on coping mechanisms and self-management strategies. Because the American Psychological Affiliation states, “Psychological and emotional wellness is equally vital—psychological strategies and remedy assist construct resilience and train the required expertise for administration of continual ache.”


There aren’t any straightforward solutions for ache from diabetic neuropathy. Sufferers that do discover some reduction typically use a mixture of prescription treatment, over-the-counter remedies, and non-medicinal strategies similar to therapeutic massage or foot elevation. Good blood sugar administration is the one remedy that addresses the basis trigger.

In case you have neuropathic ache, please search therapy from a medical skilled quickly. The issue is healthier addressed before later, and it could take some experimentation to seek out what works for you.

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