Treating (and Preventing) Diabetic Neuropathy

Treatments for Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy can be a frustrating condition. “Patients who live with it try everything under the sun for it,” Assili says.

Before treating diabetic neuropathy in the feet, your doctor will likely do lab work to make sure your problem doesn’t have another cause. For instance, thyroid conditions, vitamin deficiencies, heavy metal poisoning and even alcoholism could create the same symptoms.

Pain-relieving creams you can rub on your feet are usually the first treatments your doctor will try if you have peripheral neuropathy. This can include capsaicin cream – which contains a compound found in many hot peppers – as well lidocaine patches.

Some doctors prescribe supplements that provide vitamin B1, B12, B6 or folate. These vitamins are thought to help improve pain, numbness and tingling associated with nerve damage.

If creams or vitamins don’t provide enough relief, the next step is oral medications. This can include certain antidepressants like nortriptyline or duloxetine or medicines commonly used for nerve pain, such as gabapentin and pregabalin. The antidepressant medications have been found to help the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, even if the people using them are not depressed.

Acupuncture, biofeedback or physical therapy are effective for some people.

Beware of doctors who promise instant-relief treatments for diabetic neuropathy at a high cost. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Assili says. Find out of your treatment is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and always check with your doctor before you try something.

Unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy tends to be a lifelong condition. “There’s no instant gratification treatment,” Assili says. Doctors try and get patients to a point where they can tolerate the symptoms.

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