Does Gabapentin Help Diabetic Nerve Pain & What Are Its Side Effects?
Diabetic neuropathy refers to a condition where the nerves are damaged as a result of uncontrolled high blood glucose levels. This nerve damage can be extensive and can occur anywhere throughout the body. Diabetic neuropathy usually starts in your legs and feet and then may progress to other parts of the body.(1)
Does Gabapentin Help Diabetic Nerve Pain?
Some researches show that gabapentin when used in a dose of 1200 mg per day, can help with pain in conditions like shingles or diabetic neuropathy.(2)
Neuropathy refers to the pain that emerges from damaged nerves. This pain is very different from the messages of pain that are transmitted by healthy nerves from damaged tissue to the brain. The treatment of pain in neuropathy is also quite different from that of the pain arising from damaged tissue (which is usually tackled by pain killers or analgesics).
Usually, medicines that are used in treating depression or anxiety in many people, can be useful in alleviating nerve pain in people with diabetic neuropathy. one such medicine is gabapentin.(2)
Many studies have stated satisfactory reports with the use of gabapentin in terms of pain relief in shingles and diabetic neuropathy.(2)
What Are The Side Effects Of Gabapentin?
Gabapentin may present with some side effects. Common side effects may include-
- Dizziness or giddiness
- Unsteadiness or loss of balance
- Loss of memory
- Difficulties with coordination
- Speech problems
- Viral infections
- Trembling or tremors
- Diplopia or double vision
- Abnormal or unusual movements of the eyes
- Jerky movements
- Mood changes
- Behavior changes
- More serious side effects may include-
- Allergic reactions like hives
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling on your face and lips, tongue and throat
- Skin rashes
- Swollen glands
- Symptoms of flu
- Muscle pains
- Extreme weakness
- Uncommon bruising
- Yellowing of eyes or skin(3)
Report to your doctor immediately if you see any of the above symptoms.
Also consult him in an emergency if any of the other symptoms take a turn for the worse, like-
- Increased seizures
- Extreme fatigue
- Increased problems with coordination
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Pain in chest
- Increased trouble in breathing
- Rapid eye movements
- Kidney problems like difficulty in urination, no urination, swelling in feet, etc.(3)
Other medicines used to treat diabetic neuropathy-
Some of the medicines used in treating pain in diabetic neuropathy are-
Some medicines that are used to treat seizures may also be useful in easing nerve pain. Pregabalin is usually the drug used to start the treatment. Other drugs that may be used are gabapentin and carbamazepine. However, there may be side effects with these medicines, which may include drowsiness, giddiness or dizziness and swelling.(2)
These medicines may help in hampering some chemicals in the brain which cause you to feel pain. It’s not necessary that one should suffer from depression to use these medicines for curing nerve pain. These medicines consist of two categories- tricyclic antidepressants (like amitriptyline, desipramine, and imipramine) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, like duloxetine, venlafaxine, etc.).
These medicines may exhibit side effects like sweating, dryness in the mouth, unexplained weight gain, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, sleepiness or drowsiness, constipation, etc.(2)
Antidepressants may also be given in combination with pain relievers or anti-seizure medications.
Risk Factors For Diabetic Neuropathy-
Those who suffer from diabetes may get diabetic neuropathy without an exception. However, there are certain factors which may put you at even more risk of getting this condition. These factors comprise of-
- Poor control of blood sugar levels
- Duration of diabetes
- The occurrence of kidney diseases
Gabapentin is usually used to treat disorders like anxiety and depression. However, researches have shown that it can be effective in reducing nerve pain in conditions like shingles and diabetic neuropathy.