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Causes and Treatment of Diabetic Nerve Pain - NeuropathyNerves that are damaged in the foot

Do you want to know what causes the nerve damage and thus diabetic nerve pain?

Give me a longer explanation for all types of neuropathy

Diabetic nerve damage and the pain are caused by too much sugar in the blood.  The sugar hurts the nerve cell's outer sheath (the protective outer cover).

Peripheral nerve cells have three main parts: cell body, axons, and dendrites (or terminal). (See diagram below)

Nerve damage occurs when the outer sheathing or the myelin (protective covering) of nerve cells degenerate.  This is similar to an electrical wire that is covered with insulation, and the insulation is beginning to crumble.  Without insulation the unprotected wire will start short-circuiting.  


This short-circuiting will cause all the unpleasant and painful sensations that people who are suffering from nerve pain go through.  When the nerve damage continues to deteriorate, the nerve does not relay the nerve impulses and the sensation of numbness will occur. 

Diabetics will suffer from this nerve pain and it is a major complication of the disease.  It is the higher than normal sugar levels that creates the damage which is why controlling blood sugar is so important.  It is an acquired disease.

Neuropathy Symptoms:

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of nerves — motor, sensory, or autonomic — that is damaged.  Some people may experience numbness, tingling, and pricking sensations, sensitivity to touch, or muscle weakness. It is the cause of numbness in the fingers and even left arm pain and tingling.

Others may suffer more extreme symptoms, including burning pain (especially at night), shooting pain, muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction.  Small fiber neuropathy affects the nerve endings in the fingers or toes.   When a motor nerve is affected, you get muscle weakness and wasting.

The symptoms of nerve damage and thus what is referred to as diabetic neuropathy are often slight at first. In fact, some mild cases may go unnoticed for a long time.

Numbness, pain, or tingling in the feet and ankles or legs may, after several years, lead to weakness in the muscles of the feet and burning feet.

Diabetic neuropathy can flare up suddenly and affect specific nerves so that an affected individual will develop double vision or drooping eyelids, or weakness and atrophy of the thigh muscles. Nerve damage caused by diabetes generally occurs over a period of years and may lead to problems with the digestive tract and sexual organs, which can cause indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, bladder infections, and impotence.

The loss of sensation in the feet may increase the possibility for foot injuries to go unnoticed and develop into ulcers or lesions that become infected, not to mention having trouble with coordination.

Treatments for Neuropathy


Pros: There are several drug treatments for neuropathy. There are medications such as Lyrica and Cymbalta that are given cover up or block the pain. Lyrica is an anti-seizure medication. It is used for neuropathy as it stops the nerves from talking to each other so you don't feel the pain. Cymbalta is an anti-depressant which is used because it lowers a person's awareness and thus their awareness of the pain. One drug occasionally used is Prednisone and also Elavil.  

Cons: You have to continue to take the drugs to get relief. 

Prednisone depletes the body of vital nutrients and there is a problem withdrawing from it (see Prednisone

Amitriptyline (Elavil) it lowers the awareness of the nerve damage but as with all medications, they have side effects that don't enhance your health.   

Additionally, Cymbalta as an anti-depressant can very often be difficult to get off without side effects. For info on Cymbalta & Neuropathy  

Long term these drugs can cause more damage due to side effects and deficiencies it can create. 

For side effects of the different drugs go to www.drugs.com or www.rxlist.com   

If you are taking any mediation that has a side effect of neuropathy, you should talk to your doctor to see if there is an alternative medication. 


Pros: Combines a footbath with an electrical current.  Claims to open up nerve channels and stimulate circulation to the affected area.  

Cons: Cost   Claims to rebuild nerves, but no information on how except that it increases circulation. 


Pros: The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has been known to help with the symptoms of neuropathy.  There is apparently an ability to improve circulation with this method that would give similar relief.  There is also acupressure which works on the same principles as acupuncture.  For more information go to Acupuncture

Cons: Acupuncture sometimes does not help with neuropathy. 

Alpha lipoic acid: 

Pros: This is as an anti-oxidant which will help protect the nerves so no further damage is done to the body. It can help with the symptoms. In order to help it needs to be taken with Acetyl l-carnitine. There is evidence that they work together well in helping the body use nutrients to repair the nerves, but the vital B vitamins need to be taken with it. 

Cons:  None.


Pros: Herbs can make your neuropathy feel better, but aren’t used by the body to repair the nerves. Thus, you need to keep taking them to continue the relief. There are some herbs which shouldn’t be taken more than a few months like Feverfew or Ashwagandha.

Cons: There are problems with herbs. They can interact with any other medications that you are taking. They can have side effects. Herbs are similar to drugs in so far as (in therapeutic dosages as found in the herbs that you can buy) they make the body do what it wouldn't normally do. While you can use herbs in your salad and in tea without problems, when you take herbs in a supplement, they are extracts which are far stronger dosages. Herbs should be taken separately as if there is a problem, you can isolate what herb is causing the problem. The combination of herbs found in some supplements prohibits you from doing that. 

Remember, herbs are not vitamins. They are natural substances, but they aren't the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids & amino acids that the body needs to function, create energy and to repair itself. 

Herbs can make your neuropathy feel better, but aren't used by the body to repair the nerves. Thus, you need to keep taking them to continue the relief. There are some herbs which shouldn't be taken more than a few months like Feverfew or Ashwagandha.

When taking any herbs, check with your pharmacist. Pharmacies have databases where they can check for interactions and side effects. 

Glutamine & B6

Pros: Although no scientific evidence, some people with chemo induced neuropathy have said they had some relief.  

Cons:  There is, however, some concern that it may stimulate tumor growth.  

Anodyne Therapy:  Infrared light to increase circulation and stimulate production of nitric acid.  It is supposed to relax the arteries and eliminate free radicals. Pads are put over the injured areas.  Pain is supposed to be relieved with increased circulation and more nitric oxide in the blood.   Can treat common injuries.

Con: Relieves but doesn't address the cause. 

Homeopathic Formula:  Homeopathy can give temporary neuropathic pain relief without side effects or interactions with drugs.  What is homeopathy?

Cons:  They relieve the symptoms but don't address the problem. 

Topical creams: There are many different creams available that will bring relief from neuropathy pain. They can be applied as needed. Capsaicin is a common ingredient. It is used to relieve pain for arthritis, muscle pain, joint pain, as well as nerve pain.  It can address the inflammation.

Cons: They relieve but don't address the actual cause. Must continue to use it for relief. 

Cold Laser Treatment or Low Level Laser Therapy: It will give relief from pain. It is non-thermal and won't burn the surrounding area. It is trying to increase cellular activity. The laser delivers electric pulses to the target area which delivers a jolt that matches the pulse at which the body perceives pain. It claims to create a reduction in pain by causing the production of natural pain killer endorphins. 

Cons:  Again doesn't address the actual cause of the pain, so is relief only. 


Various blends of B vitamins and other supplements:    

Addressing different "nerve support" vitamins that are brought out from time to time including those supposedly formulated by a medical doctor.  There are lots of different ideas about relieving the symptoms of neuropathy.  There are many formulations.  A lot of them are putting different vitamins together and even do include B1 in the form of benfotiamine and B12 as methyl B12.  They even will give mega doses to try and help the nerves. 
Some have small amounts of B1 & B12 - which are the most important B vitamins for nerve health.

B1 & B12 are important for nerve health.  Check that the amount in the formula is not low. One formula even had B12 listed as 1 mg. Not sure what they think that would do for your nerves. 

The body needs specific B vitamins working together to build nerves.  For instance, folic acid is needed to activate the B12.  B6, B9 (folic acid) and B2 are needed for B1 to be absorbed.  Some of these blends include both B vitamins and alpha lipoic acid when one needs to be taken with food and the other on an empty stomach.  It is valuable to understand why each ingredient was put in the formula and whether it will help or just cover up symptoms, is missing ingredients or are good to take together.    

Here is an article on what creates healthy nerves


B-Vitamins Liquid Delivery

Some brands will tell you that their formula is better because they are in liquid form.

Liquid is NOT better.  Liquid is variable.  When you measure it out its variable and you don't get the exact formula each time you take it. 

Tablet or capsule is very specific and is a superior delivery for building nerves. 

If the problem is taking a pill, get capsules which can be emptied into food or drink.  

None of the above treatments, however, will build healthy nerves.  You can cover up the symptoms and you can make a person feel less pain, etc. by taking drugs or herbs, but you aren't addressing the cause of the problem which is the health of your nerves.

We always recommending building health and nerves are no different. 

Take a Quiz: Am I doing everything I can to daily help my neuropathy?

Find out what lifestyle changes will help, take the quiz and get our suggestions and get our assistance on what you can do.

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Building Health Nerves:  Healthy nerves don't create burning or cold sensations when there is nothing hot or cold around.  They don't create sensations for no reason and the communication between the brain and the muscles work to correctly move and keep the body balanced. 

For information on building Healthy Nerves 

For information on what the nerves need to be healthy



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Neuropathy causes of nerve damage