Medications for Diabetic Neuropathy

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Was this helpful?
67
prescription-medication-woman-taking-pills
Getty

The most important diabetic neuropathy medications—or diabetic nerve damage—are the ones you use to control your diabetes. That's because keeping your blood sugar in the normal range is the best way to prevent neuropathy. It's also the best way to keep it from getting worse. Medications to treat your diabetes may include insulin, oral medicines to lower blood sugar, and noninsulin injections.

However, once you have diabetic neuropathy, other medications can help reduce your symptoms. The medication for diabetic neuropathy or neuropathy treatment that helps you will depend on the type of nerve damage you have.

Here are 10 drugs for diabetic neuropathy:

  • Pregabalin (Lyrica). This is an anti-seizure drug that also reduces diabetic nerve pain. Common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, swelling and dry mouth. Some other anti-seizure drugs also reduce nerve pain and your doctor may choose to prescribe them. However, Lyrica is the only one approved for diabetic neuropathy.

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta). This is an antidepressant that also reduces diabetic nerve pain. Common side effects include dry mouth, sleepiness, nausea and constipation. Some other antidepressants also reduce nerve pain and may be a treatment option. However, Cymbalta is the only antidepressant approved for diabetic neuropathy.

  • Tramadol (Ultram). This is a strong pain reliever that may be effective for relieving diabetic nerve pain. Common side effects include sleepiness, constipation, and dry mouth. Tramadol an opioid type drug and may be addictive. Because of this, doctors usually prescribe it only when other drugs have not been effective.

  • Tapentadol (Nucynta). This is a strong pain reliever that may be effective for relieving diabetic nerve pain. Common side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. It's also an opioid that may be addictive, so it is not prescribed unless other drugs have not been effective.

  • Capsaicin skin cream. This is a pain relieving medication you rub on your skin to relieve diabetic nerve pain. It's made from chili peppers. You can buy this cream over the counter. Side effects include skin irritation, burning and itching.

  • Lidocaine (Lidoderm) skin patch. Lidocaine is a numbing medicine—or local anesthetic—that may reduce diabetic nerve pain. You apply a patch about every 12 hours. Side effects include skin irritation, rash, itching and burning.

  • Midodrine (ProAmatine). Diabetic neuropathy in nerves that control your blood pressure can cause dizziness when you stand up. This is orthostatic hypotension and it can lead to a fall. Midodrine increases blood pressure to avoid orthostatic hypotension. Side effects include high blood pressure, numbness, goose bumps and itching.

  • Metoclopramide (Reglan). Diabetic neuropathy in nerves that control emptying of your stomach and intestines can cause your stomach to empty too slowly after you eat. This can cause heartburn, fullness, nausea and vomiting. If changing your diet does not help, this medication may help speed up your digestion. Side effects include restlessness, sleepiness, involuntary movements, and confusion. Because of these side effects, doctors only use this drug for short periods.

  • Erectile dysfunction drugs. Diabetic neuropathy can make it difficult for a man to get and keep an erection. This is erectile dysfunction and there are drugs to treat it. They work to improve blood flow to the penis. The most common side effects are headache, flushing, and nasal congestion.

  • Glycopyrrolate topical. Diabetic neuropathy can affect the nerves of your sweat glands. This can cause extreme sweating in the area of your head or neck when you eat. This is gustatory sweating. Applying this medication to your face or neck every day may reduce this sweating.

Medications for neuropathy can help relieve symptoms and may prevent complications. You may need to take more than one medication. You will have to work with your doctor to find the treatments that are best for you.

Was this helpful?
67
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 13
View All Diabetic Neuropathy Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Cymbalta. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/021427s049lbl.pdf
  2. Diabetic Neuropathy: A Position Statement by the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/diacare/40/1/136.full.pdf
  3. Groninger H, Schisler RE. Topical capsaicin for neuropathic pain. J Palliat Med. 2012 Aug; 15(8): 946–947.
  4. Insulin, Medicines, & Other Diabetes Treatments. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/insulin-medicines-treatments
  5. Lidoderm. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2005/020612s007lbl.pdf
  6. Lyrica. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/drugsafety/ucm152825.pdf
  7. Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathies). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies
  8. Nucynta. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/022304s003lbl.pdf
  9. ProAmatine. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/019815s010lbl.pdf
  10. Ultram. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/020281s032s033lbl.pdf
  11. Viagra. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/20895s039s042lbl.pdf