Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is caused by nerve damage in the arms and/or legs and is often associated with fluctuating glucose levels in diabetic patients. However, many diabetic patients keep their glucose levels normal but still get the diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Treatments
Your medical professional might have told you there are no effective diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatments. This article will break down the different approaches to treatment and symptom management.
The basics - Blood Glucose Levels
For some people, managing blood glucose levels will slow down or even prevent further diabetic peripheral neuropathy. However, it is important to realize that diabetic peripheral neuropathy is not always caused by fluctuating blood glucose levels.
This is important to know for two reasons.
Firstly, if you have diabetes you have to be aware that you can be affected by neuropathy, even if you have normal blood glucose levels. Secondly, having diabetic peripheral neuropathy does not automatically mean that someone has been irresponsible with their blood glucose levels.
Pain Relief and Pain Management
Pain caused by diabetic peripheral neuropathy can have a profound impact on ones life. Even if pain is not excruciating, it distracts, gets worse at night, keeps you awake, and can cause a vicious cycle that results in a very depressing situation.
Many of the of the diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatments are focussed on symptom management, and in this case pain management. The main categories for prescribed pain relief are:
- Tricyclic Antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, imipramine, and desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
- other types of antidepressants, such as Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Paxil and Celexa
- Anticonvulsants, such as Lyrica, Gabarone, Neurontin and Lamictal
- Opioids and opioid-like drugs, such as controlled-release oxycodone and tramadol (Ultram)
Simplified, most of these prescription drugs block or inhibit pain receptors, preventing you from feeling the pain or making the pain less intense.
Among the other options used for pain management are lidocaine patches and capsaicin creams.
Other Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment Options
Please consult your medical professional(s) before trying any of the diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatment options in this article. This article is not medical advice, but points out available options that have worked for other people.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
More and more evidence supports that diabetic peripheral neuropathy progresses at least in part due to oxidative stress caused by free radicals. ALA is an anti-oxidant, neutralizing free radicals. In additional, ALA has the ability to recycle other anti-oxidants like vitamin C and glutathione.
In Germany, ALA is licensed and has been used as a diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatment for over 40 years.
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) contains two types of Omega 6 fatty acids: linolenic acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). These fatty acids are essential to increase production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins that reduce pain and inflammation.
In a 1992 study, patients were taking 480mg GLA per day for a one year period. The conclusion of the study was that GLA had a beneficial effect on the course of diabetic neuropathy.
During the last decades acupuncture has received increasing attention in the West. There has been at least one study that has reviewed acupuncture as a diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatment.
The study was published in March, 2010. Acupuncture was administered for a 3 month period. The study's conclusion was that acupuncture may show good effects for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.