Peripheral neuropathy is believed to affect between 6% and 51% of adults with diabetes, depending on their age as well as the type of diabetes they have, according to the National Institutes of Health. While some instances of neuropathy are asymptomatic, many patients experience anything from mild discomfort to excruciating pain. Although prescription medications have a relatively good track record of treating neuropathic pain, research suggests that they typically only ease pain by about 50%. Thankfully, there are a number of things that can be done to help manage the pain and discomfort better.

Make use of capsaicin cream

While spicy peppers are known to add some heat to your food, the active ingredient found in them has also been proven to aid in the reduction of neuropathic pain in diabetics. According to the findings of a clinical trial archived in the National Library of Medicine, cream containing the active ingredient in peppers, capsaicin, is both safe and very effective in alleviating painful diabetic neuropathy. Another study revealed that wearing an 8% capsaicin patch effectively reduces pain by as much as 30% after being worn for two weeks. Although higher-dose patches and creams can only be prescribed by medical practitioners, over-the-counter creams that contain a lower dose of capsaicin can also offer some much-needed relief.

Take extra good care of your feet

Patients experiencing diabetic neuropathy are increasingly at risk of contracting very painful ulcers and infections in their feet. As peripheral nerve damage in the feet can lead to compromised sensation, any abnormalities may not be noticed immediately. It is therefore of the utmost importance to inspect the feet on a daily basis to ensure that there are no cuts, swelling or blisters. If you experience difficulty in examining your own feet, make use of a mirror or ask someone else to help you. It’s important to keep your feet clean and dry at all times, and ensure that your toenails are short to prevent them from tearing and exposing you to a nasty infection.

Invest in a quality supplement

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not uncommon among patients with diabetes. Among the most common of these is a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which may be caused by metformin, a medication commonly prescribed to patients. A study conducted in 2017 indicated that B vitamins have the ability to reduce neuropathic pain by improving nerve function and boosting the regeneration of nerve tissue. Apart from Vitamin B, other supplements worth considering for pain management include Vitamin D, Alpha-lipoic acid and magnesium. Remember to always consult with your doctor prior to taking a new supplement, as it may interact with your overall treatment plan.

Many patients living with diabetes endure varying degrees of neuropathic pain. Thankfully there are a number of measures that can be taken to make it somewhat easier to manage.

With contribution by freelance writer Jane Baxter.