How do I Choose the Best Neuropathy Medication?

Amy Hunter

The best neuropathy medication is the one that best treats neuropathy symptoms for a particular individual. The physician's aim when treating neuropathy is to identify and, if possible, treat or remove the underlying cause of neuropathy. The doctor will also help the patient improve mobility through physical and occupational therapy. Prescription pain medications, anticonvulsants, and tricyclic antidepressants are all used to treat the symptoms of neuropathy.

Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, may help relieve neuropathy pain.
Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, may help relieve neuropathy pain.

Over the counter analgesics, such as ibuprofen and asprin, are not normally effective against nerve pain. Prescription pain medication and topical creams containing capsaicin are often used as neuropathy medication, however. Capsaicin has a tendency to sting on application, so it is often combined with lidocaine to minimize discomfort.

Several prescription medications are designed to help with neuropathy.
Several prescription medications are designed to help with neuropathy.

Local anesthetics, antiarrhythmic drugs, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants are not FDA approved for use as neuropathy medication, however they are often used to treat the symptoms associated with neuropathy. This is acceptable because medications that are approved by the FDA for one use may be prescribed for another, off-label condition. Possible side effects of these medications include drowsiness, dizziness, low blood pressure, low white blood cell count, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and double vision.

Neuropathy medication is often combined with other forms of therapy to relieve symptoms. Injection therapy is a process where the physician injects lidocaine into the area surrounding the nerves affected by neuropathy. This stops the nerves from sending messages back to the brain, temporarily relieving the symptoms of neuropathy. Also known as a nerve block, injection therapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as exercise, heat therapy, massage, and acupuncture.

Problems appearing in individual nerves or nerve bundles are what causes neuropathy to develop. The nerves carry information to and from the spinal cord and brain. Problems with nerves cause a loss of sensation, pain, and trouble controlling affected muscles. Digestive problems and abnormal blood pressure may develop as well.

Neuropathy may develop as a result of disease, such as cancer or diabetes, hereditary disorders, infections such as hepatitis or AIDS, or kidney failure. Individuals who drink excessively may also develop neuropathy, as well as individuals that experience an injury to the nerve, prolonged exposure to the cold, or compression to the area, such as from a brace or cast. About one-third of cases of neuropathy have no known cause. This is known as idiopathic neuropathy. Knowing the cause of the neuropathy not only makes it easier remove the initial cause of the problem, but also can help doctors to choose the best neuropathy medication.

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