Anti-seizure medications may help type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes patients who suffer from nerve pain, new report says

A number of medications currently available for treating seizures and other medical conditions may be effective in treating the pain and burning sensations experienced by many individuals who suffer from type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, according to new treatment guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, is an extremely common complication experienced by diabetics. Officials from the AAN said that it affects up to 16 percent of the more than 25 million U.S. adults who suffer from diabetes. It can cause extreme discomfort that may seriously impact a person's quality of life.

The new guidelines, which were published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology, say that there is strong evidence that the anti-seizure drugs gabapentin and valproate, as well as the antidepressants venlafaxine, duloxetine and amitriptyline, can reduce pain associated with diabetic neuropathy and significantly improve the quality of life of those who suffer from the condition.

Other treatments including opioid pain relievers, capsaicin and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation may also improve the condition of those who suffer from neuropathy, though the recommendations state that patients should talk to their doctors before starting any of these therapies.

For the AAN officials who wrote the new guidelines, treatment should be all about improving the quality of life of those who suffer from neuropathy.

"When neuropathy strikes, it is painful and can disrupt sleep. Because of this, it can also lead to mood changes and lower quality of life," said lead author Vera Bril. "Diabetic nerve pain is often unreported and more often untreated, with an estimated two out of five cases not receiving care."