Medications to Treat Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

How to Find Nerve Pain Relief

Written by Daniel J. Toft MD, PhD

Medications are used to control the pain associated with peripheral diabetic neuropathy. Unfortunately, at this time, there aren’t any medications to treat and prevent diabetic nerve pain (another name for diabetic neuropathy); the only way to do that is through careful control of blood glucose levels.

There are many medication options to relieve pain associated with peripheral nerve damage. You should work carefully with your doctor to figure out what medications are best for you.

If you’d like to learn more about treatments for the other types of diabetic neuropathy, this section of the article reviews treatment options for autonomic, proximal, and focal neuropathy.

Medication Warning

Because of the possible interactions and side effects, always discuss medications with your doctor—even if they’re “just” over-the-counter. This is particularly important when you have diabetes because these over-the-counter medications may have interactions with other medications you’re using.

Over-the-counter Medications for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

For people in the early stages of diabetic neuropathy—when the pain isn’t severe—over-the-counter medications may be enough to relieve the pain. However, people with more advanced nerve damage may not find over-the-counter medications helpful.

For diabetic neuropathy, you may want to try:

Prescription Medications for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Most people with peripheral diabetic nerve pain need something stronger—a prescription medication—to treat the pain. You may need a combination of these to deal with the various effects of nerve damage. The FDA has approved two medications for diabetic peripheral neuropathy: Cymbalta and Lyrica. Talk to you doctor to find out if these medications may be right for your nerve pain; however, many other medications are commonly used successfully to treat diabetic neuropathy. 

Side effects include insomnia, headache, and nausea

Treatment Options for Other Types of Diabetic Neuropathy:  Proximal, Focal, and Autonomic Neuropathy Treatments

Depending on what type of diabetic neuropathy you have and the symptoms that you develop as a result, your doctor can prescribe different medications to help you handle those symptoms. For example, if you develop a urinary tract infection (a possibility if nerves to your bladder are damaged—that’s a form of autonomic neuropathy), the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. For digestive problems—another possibility in autonomic neuropathy—the doctor may prescribe medications that make the digestive process run more smoothly. The exact medication (or medications) prescribed depends on your symptoms. Discuss all symptoms with your doctor so that he or she is best able to help you.