Conditions concerning diabetic nerves are some of the most complex and painful problems that you can face in diabetes. Nerves are damaged in diabetes when your blood sugar levels have not been properly controlled for some period of time. Problems of diabetic nerves are caused because the covering of your nerves are diminished or the blood vessels that nourish these nerves are damaged. In either case, the diabetic nerves stop sending messages, send them slowly, or send them at the wrong time.

There are signs that diabetic nerves are being damaged. With early detection and lifestyle changes, this progression can be slowed and sometimes even be reversed. Symptoms of damage to diabetic nerves can be any of the following:

Numbness in your hands, legs, and feet

Shooting pains, burning, or tingling

Nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea

Problems with sexual function

Urinary problems

Dizziness when you change position quickly


Treatment of Diabetic Nerves


Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are learning about diabetic nerve problems far before they affect you. Prevention is always the best treatment. Research shows that keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as you can will cut your chance of someday having diabetic nerve problems significantly. Other ways to keep this condition at bay is limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink, not smoking, and speaking with your doctor if you have any of the symptoms which are listed above.

If you have problems with diabetic nerves, you should have already been to the doctor. If not you should be on your way. After diagnosis, the first step in treatment is going to be bringing your blood sugars into a normal range and working on keeping them there. This will help prevent further nerve damage. Your symptoms may get worse at first, but don’t be alarmed, keeping your blood sugar levels normal will lessen the symptoms with time.

The next goal of treatment will be to get you pain levels under control. This is normally done with a combination of medications and treatments. Medications which are typically used to treat pain for diabetic nerves include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants – amitriptyline, imipramine, Norpramin, or Pertofrane
  • Anticonvulsant medications – Lyrica, Gabarone, Neurotin, carbamazepine, lamotrigine
  • Opiods and opiod-like drugs – controlled-release oxycodone, Ultram (an opiod with antidepressant effects)
  • Other types of antidepressants – Cymbalta, venlafaxine, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Celexa


Capsaicin creams and lidocaine patches have been known to be very helpful with pain of the diabetic nerves. Studies have also shown that essential oils such as evening primrose oil have been helpful with this pain as well. These oils, and antioxidants such as alph-lipoic acid, have been known to not only relieve symptoms, but improve nerve function as well.

For those with intense pain of the diabetic nerves, a device called a bed cradle helps to keep sheets and blankets from touching your legs and feet. Electronic nerve stimulation, magnet therapy, and laser or light therapy may be helpful, but are still being studied. Finally, acupuncture, biofeedback, and physical therapy have been known to be very effective treatments for some people.