Prolonged spells of high blood sugar can lead to nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) in diabetics. Over a period of time, the nerve damage can spread throughout the body. Diabetic neuropathy treatment mainly aims at bringing the blood glucose levels down as this is the prime cause of the condition. Regular monitoring of the blood glucose levels, meal planning, regular exercise or physical activity, and insulin or diabetes medication would help prevent further damage.
Initially, the symptoms may worsen when the blood sugar levels are brought under control. But over a period of time, the symptoms would lessen and there would be a marked improvement. In this article, we discuss about the treatment options for diabetic neuropathy. Read on to know more.
Diabetic neuropathy treatment includes a combination of oral medications and other types of treatment to reduce pain. Some of the medications that are used to help provide relief from diabetic nerve pain include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants -Imipramine, amitriptyline and desipramine (Pertofrane, Norpramin)
- Other antidepressants, such as venlafaxine, bupropion (Wellbutrin), duloxetine (Cymbalta), citalopram (Celexa) and paroxetine (Paxil).
- Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Gabarone, Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), lamotrigine (Lamictal) and carbamazepine.
- Opoids like tramadol (Ultram), and controlled-release oxycodone.
Two of the drugs, pregabalin and duloxetine, are specifically used to treat painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They are approved by the Unites States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Now, you might be wondering about the use of antidepressants in treating pain. It is true that most of the medicines do have side-effects and may not be suitable for people with heart disease. So, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants instead of the usual over-the-counter pain relief medicines.
Creams (capsaicin) and patches (Lidopain, Lidoderm) that can be applied to the skin have also shown to provide relief. Studies also suggest that evening primrose oil, nitrate sprays, and alpha-lipoic acid are helpful in improving the nerve function.
Diabetic patients with extreme sensitivity in their feet and legs can use a bed cradle, a device which can keep blankets and sheets from touching the sensitive parts. Physical therapy, acupuncture, magnetic therapy, nerve stimulation, light or laser therapy can also be helpful.
Can you use any of the medications?
Diabetic neuropathy treatment includes medicines which are available only on prescription. The best treatment option for you can only be decided by your doctor after considering various factors like your age, sex, overall health, any allergic reaction to a particular medicine etc.
The list of medications are only provided for your reference. Do not try self-medication under any circumstances.
Eating smaller and frequent meals, reducing the intake of fiber rich foods, and avoiding fats can provide relief. Severe symptoms may require the use of medications that regulate digestion. Diarrhea or irregular bowel movement can be treated by antibiotics.
Dizziness and Weakness
Standing or sitting slowly can help prevent dizziness, fainting or light-headedness caused by blood pressure or circulation problems. Wearing elastic stockings and raising the head of the bed can also be helpful. Treatment including salt-retaining hormones or increasing the intake of salt can also be beneficial.
Urinary and Sexual Problems
Increase in the intake of fluids can help in clearing the urinary tract. Oral medications and injections can also help men to sustain and maintain an erection. For women, usage of vaginal lubricants can be helpful. A gynecologist would be able to treat problems associated with orgasm and arousal.
Seeking diabetic neuropathy treatment for foot problems can be avoided if one takes good care of his/her feet. Loss of sensation and circulatory problems can make it difficult for a person to spot any small cuts, bruises or ulcers. If left untreated, the infection can spread quickly and in most cases, result in amputation.
The following measures can be helpful:
- Clean your feet daily with warm water and a mild soap. Pat dry with a towel and ensure that they are completely dry.
- Inspect your toes and feet everyday for cuts, bruises, blisters, swelling, calluses or other problems. If you have trouble doing so, take the help of someone.
- Apply a mild moisturizer to your feet and legs. But make sure that the moisturizer is not left in the skin folds or gaps.
- Use a pumice stone to file away calluses or corns.
- Trim your toenails and keep them short.
- Wear shoes that fit comfortably.
- Avoid walking barefoot.
- Visit a podiatrist once a month to get your feet examined.
Now that you know about diabetic neuropathy treatment options, do not neglect any symptoms. Keep your blood sugar levels in check and prevent further complications. Seek immediate medical help if you notice any symptoms of this condition.