Neuropathy, or nerve pain, is a complicated condition to manage and treat: it can have many different causes, and it affects everyone differently, in terms of severity, duration, and age of onset. In some cases, the pain of neuropathy diminishes on its own with simple treatment, while for others it may take many months, years, or it may be a life-long issue. It may take some trial and error, but your doctor can help you identity the best course of treatment to help manage your nerve pain.
Pain relief, and neuropathy treatment overall, depend on the source of the misfiring nerves – diabetes, injury, medical side effects, or an underlying condition. In general, however, a combination of prescription drugs and complementary methods may be recommended. Prescription drugs may include prescription-strength pain relievers as well as anti-seizure medications and antidepressants, which can help interfere with the nerve signals that cause you to feel pain as they misfire. Opioids have long-term effects and can lead to dependency as well as other unpleasant side effects, so these are generally prescribed as a last resort for severe cases.
Over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may be an option, especially for less severe cases. Although they’re not as strong as prescription painkillers, it’s still important to take these as directed, so if you’re one of the people who doesn’t experience relief from this, talk to your doctor about other options or safely increasing your dosage – don’t try to increase it on your own.
Topical creams can also help alleviate pain for some people, numbing the pain from the outside in. They also have the benefit of targetability: you can apply them exactly where you most need the relief. Some contain capsaicin, whose soothing heat properties come from chili oils, while others contain natural oils or other local anesthetics; try a few to see which works best for you.
Depending on the type of neuropathy and your symptoms, other therapies such as electric nerve stimulation or physical therapy to strengthen weakened muscles may be useful. Holistic remedies such as massage with essential oils, meditation, and acupuncture help some people manage their discomfort, and of course, managing any underlying condition (such as keeping on top of your diabetes treatment) is an important factor.