There is no cure for neuropathy. Neuropathy is typically treated by addressing the causes and working on symptom relief.
Treatment is often a matter of trial and error. A treatment that may work well for one person may be totally ineffective for another. Persistence and perseverance may be the key contributors to successfully finding help.
Addressing the Causes
A key place to start in treating neuropathy is to limit the effects of the cause, if the cause is known. For a diabetic, this means keeping sugar levels under control. For someone with alcoholic neuropathy, ceasing drinking would be vital. If a medication or toxin is involved, limiting or eliminating exposure will help. A celiac sprue sufferer would need to avoid gluten. Sometimes, addressing the underlying cause may be all that's needed to reverse or halt the spread of symptoms.
Prescription medications for the treatment of neuropathy typically fall into two categories: anti-seizure medications and anti-depressants. Such medications work by affecting the electrical and chemical activity of the nerves. Neurontin (gabapentin) has been widely used with great effect in some. Lyrica is a recent prescription medication specifically approved for the treatment of neuropathy pain. Unfortunately, most pain and nerve medications can have side effects of drowsiness and fogginess. An example of an anti-depressant specifically approved for neuropathy is Cymbalta.
Some people have had great success with the use of medications made by compounding pharmacists, typically medication in an ointment form that is applied to the affected area. Some people who experience side effects from an oral medication may tolerate it better in a compounded application where the medication stays local and immediately enters the bloodstream by bypassing the digestive system.
Over the counter pain relievers may provide relief to some. In addition, various creams and ointments have proved helpful or soothing.
Various therapies including exercise, occupational therapy, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture/acupressure, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, infrared light, chiropractic care, and many, many others have proven helpful to some.
Many supplements have been touted as helpful for different conditions in recent years. Alpha lipoic acid has been used for years in Europe as a treatment for neuropathy. For those with neuropathy caused or exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies, supplements can be vital.
Pain Management Clinics
Medical groups, hospitals, and independent organizations may offer pain management clinics. These facilities include specialized staff that can help a patient try various types of medications and therapies in order to find treatments that work best for the individual.
Always work with your doctor in developing a treatment plan.
See the WNA alternate treatments handout, which describes treatments that various support group members have found helpful.