Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment Options
The best treatment for diabetic neuropathy is good control of your blood sugar. Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage, and there are many different types. It can affect all parts of your body. Keeping your blood sugar—or glucose—in a normal range can prevent further nerve damage. With time, it also may reduce the symptoms of neuropathy you experience.
Work with your doctor to find the target range for your blood sugar level. Use your blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar every day. Make sure to get an A1C blood test at least twice each year. This test tells your doctor what your average blood glucose level has been over 2 to 3 months. Work with your doctor to control your blood glucose level through diet and exercise. You may also need to take an oral medication or insulin.
Other treatments for diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of neuropathy you have and the complications it causes. Here is a look at some common diabetic neuropathy treatment options.
Treating Diabetic Nerve Pain
Diabetic neuropathy often affects the nerves in your arms, hands, legs and feet. The pain may be sharp and burning. Options for treatment include:
Antidepressants: These diabetic neuropathy medications decrease diabetic nerve pain.
Anti-seizure medications: These drugs for diabetic neuropathy also may decrease nerve pain.
Bed cradle: Diabetic nerve pain can make your legs and feet very sensitive to touch and pressure. This treatment is a type of tent you use at night to keep your sheets and blankets off your legs and feet.
Topical medications: This type of medication for diabetic neuropathy acts by numbing your skin. This includes creams, patches and sprays.
Opioid pain medications: These are strong pain medicines. They should be used only if other treatment options are not helping. They can cause side effects, like constipation, and also lead to addiction.
Treating Digestive System Neuropathy
The first treatment option may be to eat smaller and more frequent meals. You may also need to cut back on the amount of fat and fiber in your diet. Medication options include drugs that block or reduce stomach acid. Another option is the medication metoclopramide (Reglan). It speeds stomach emptying. However, it has serious side effects. Doctors prescribe it only for severe symptoms that do not respond to diet changes.
Diabetic neuropathy can damage the nerves that control your heart rate and blood pressure. This can cause problems with your circulation. You may have trouble adjusting to changes, like getting up after sitting or lying down. You may become dizzy, or you may fall.
Treatment options include raising the head of your bed, wearing elastic stockings, and drinking more fluids. You may also need to take a blood pressure control medicine.
Treating Bladder Problems
Diabetic neuropathy can damage the nerves that control your bladder. This can lead to trouble emptying your bladder completely. You may also lose the sensation of needing to empty your urine. Not emptying your bladder can lead to more bladder infections. Treatment may include increasing your fluids and taking an antibiotic to treat infection.
One treatment option for helping your bladder is bladder-training therapy. This includes strengthening the muscles you use to control your bladder and emptying your bladder often during the day. You may also need to drink less when you know you will be traveling or away from a bathroom.
Treating Sexual Dysfunction
Men with diabetic neuropathy may have difficulty getting or keeping an erection. This is erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction drugs are one treatment option that may help. Women may also have problems, such as vaginal dryness. Vaginal lubricating gels can help relieve this symptom.
Treating Foot Conditions
Foot problems are common in people with diabetes. The nerves that go to your feet are the longest ones in your body. This puts them at highest risk of damage leading to neuropathy.
Neuropathy may cause loss of feeling in your feet. You might not notice a blister or a sore. Diabetes also causes less blood to flow to your feet. This combination can lead to a minor cut or sore becoming infected. Diabetes also makes it harder to fight infection. As a result, diabetic foot infections can spread to bones. This is the most common cause of amputations that are not the result of an accident.
Treatment options for diabetes foot neuropathy include: