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New Guideline for Nerve Pain

April 12, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — The American Academy of Neurology has issued a new guideline on the most effective treatments for diabetic nerve pain — the burning or tingling pain in the hands and feet that affects millions of people with diabetes.

Diabetic nerve pain, or neuropathy, is caused by nerve damage. “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,” lead guideline author Vera Bril, MD, FRCP, with the University of Toronto and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, was quoted as saying. “It is estimated that diabetic nerve pain affects 16 percent of the more than 25 million people living with diabetes in the United States and is often unreported and more often untreated, with an estimated two out of five cases not receiving care.”

According to the guideline, the seizure drug pregabalin is effective in treating diabetic nerve pain; however, doctors should determine if it is appropriate for their patients on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, the guideline suggested that several other treatments should be considered, including the seizure drugs gabapentin and valproate; antidepressants such as venlafaxine, duloxetine and amitriptyline; and painkillers such as opioids and capsaicin. Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) — a widely used pain therapy involving a portable device — was also found to be effective for treating diabetic nerve pain.

“We were pleased to see that so many of these pain treatments had high-quality studies that support their use,” said Bril. “Still, it is important that more research be done to show how well these treatments can be tolerated over time since diabetic nerve pain is a chronic condition that affects a person’s quality of life and ability to function.”

SOURCE: Neurology, published online April 11, 2011




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