Neuropathy affects a person’s ability to maintain an active and normal life. The fact that there is no known cure for neuropathy makes it necessary for affected patients to find a suitable form of treatment which can effectively ease or reverse the symptoms of the condition.
There are different ways through which neuropathy can be treated; the natural approach which involves the use of herbs, vitamin supplements, etc. and the pharmaceutical alternative which involves the use of counter medicine or prescription medicine.
Although both natural and pharmaceutical approaches to the treatment of neuropathy have provided significant results, the latter will be the focal point of this article.
Medication For Neuropathy
Medication remains the most common form of treatment, and there are several options available for patients who suffer from neuropathic pain.
1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
5. Topical Creams
1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
The label 'Non-steroidal' in NSAIDs is used to differentiate drugs in this category from those in the steroid family. This group of drugs is effective against pain, fever, and inflammation and is often preferred over Acetaminophen especially in the treatment of severe pain.
Popular brands of NSAIDs include diclofenac and ibuprofen.
These medications are especially effective in the treatment of arthritis and musculoskeletal pain.
Aspirin is a type of NSAID which has an antipyretic effect and very effective against fever. As one of the most widely used painkillers in the world, aspirin has several positive effects which testify to its effectiveness in the treatment of neuropathy.
Patients are advised never to combine the different types of NSAIDs as this will increase the risk of side effects.
Possible side effects of NSAIDs include:
• Stomach Ulcers
• Skin Rashes
Antidepressants work in the central nervous system of the body. The pain-relieving abilities of the drugs make them suitable for the treatment of neuropathy.
Antidepressants help in blocking pain signals on their way to the brain, and this releases endorphins which enable the body to relieve pain naturally. Antidepressants not only aid pain relief but also assist in the regulation of sleep patterns and the treatment of mental and emotional pain which often results in depression.
There are several types of antidepressants, and they are classified into four categories, namely:
a) Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) TCAs help to reduce pain by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain.
b) Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) SNRIs maintain mental balance by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
c) Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) SSRIs are quite similar to SNRIs, but they increase levels of serotonin in the body to reducing one's pain perception.
d) Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs) NDRIs are chemically unrelated to other types of antidepressants, but they have similar effects.
Potential side effects of antidepressants include:
• Blurred vision
• Increased heart rate
Anti-seizure medications were originally designed to treat seizures and epilepsy. These medications are often prescribed to treat neuropathy due to their ability to lower pain levels.
Anti-seizure medications help to reduce the painful symptoms of neuropathy by slowing down the transmission of pain signals sent from damaged nerves to the brain.
Possible side effects of anti-seizures include:
• Blurred vision
Opioids are known to be effective in relieving severe pain by suppressing one's perception and emotional response to pain.
Also known as narcotics, opioids are only prescribed in moderate quantities as an excessive and inordinate use of these substances can result in harmful side effects.
Side Effects Opioids include:
• Brain damage
5. Topical Treatments
Topical painkillers also called analgesics, are substances which can be sprayed or rubbed into the skin over painful muscles or joints.
They are available in different brands, and each product is designed to relieve pain and discomfort caused by neuropathy and arthritis. When applied, topical creams may cause a tingling or burning sensation.
Fortunately, this effect improves with constant use.
Possible side effects of topical Creams include:
• Redness of skin
• Skin atrophy
The pharmaceutical approach to neuropathy provides patients with several options through which they can relieve and improve the painful symptoms of their condition.
However, that minor relief can often times come with a trade-off. Many of those side effects make the relief not worth it, but that's something you should consider when going the big pharma route.
To avoid further complications, neuropathic patients are advised to consult their doctor before using any medication.
Have you had the chance to try any of these approaches? If so, was your experience good or bad? Please share any of your experiences with us on our Facebook Page.