MEDICATIONS FOR NEUROPATHY
Medications can ease pain symptoms, but most have side effects, especially if you take them for long periods of time. If you take pain medication regularly, including over-the-counter (OTC) products, discuss the benefits and side effects with your doctor.
Medications that may help provide pain relief for neuropathy include:
Pain relievers. OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), usually help mild symptoms. For more severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend prescription NSAIDs. If you take NSAIDs for long periods of time or in large doses, you may develop nausea, stomach pain, bleeding or even ulcers.
Anti-seizure medications. Drugs such as gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol) and phenytoin (Dilantin) were originally developed to treat seizure disorders (epilepsy). However, doctors often also prescribe them for jabbing pain. Side effects may include drowsiness and dizziness.
Lidocaine patch. This patch contains the topical anesthetic lidocaine. You apply it to the area where your pain is most severe, and you can use up to three patches a day to relieve pain. This treatment has almost no side effects except, for some people, a rash at the site of the patch.
Tricyclic antidepressants. Antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor), desipramine (Norpramin) and imipramine (Tofranil), may provide relief for mild to moderate symptoms by interfering with chemical processes in your brain that cause you to feel pain. Common side effects of these medications may include balance problems, dry mouth, nausea, tiredness, constipation and weight gain. To help reduce these side effects, your doctor will likely start you off at a low dose and slowly increase the amount of drug you take. If you’re bothered by insomnia, your doctor may also recommend an antidepressant or a sleeping medication. Some studies have also suggested that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac), may help relieve the signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
Other medications. Opioid analgesics, such as codeine or oxycodone (OxyContin) may be used to relieve pain. However, this class of medications produces numerous side effects, including addiction, that make long-term use of these drugs undesirable. Mexiletine (Mexitil), a drug ordinarily used to treat irregular heart rhythms, sometimes helps relieve burning pain.
Research aimed at finding more effective treatments for peripheral neuropathy is ongoing. For example, researchers are looking at developing nerve growth factors to reproduce the chemicals that signal your body to repair small nerve fibers. Unfortunately, no medications can repair nerve damage yet, but the body can regenerate nerves if the offending substance is removed.
13710 Olive Boulevard (Primary Office)
Chesterfield, MO 63017
Telephone: 314-469-PAIN (7246)
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