If you have diabetic nerve pain, don't be surprised if your doctor tells you to take an antidepressant.
No, your doctor isn't assuming you have depression. He's actually trying to treat your pain.
I know that sounds strange, but it's simply part of the drug business. You see, whenever the drug companies find a drug that sells well, they begin looking for additional ways to use the drug. For instance, once sales for statins peaked, they looked for other uses other than lowering cholesterol. They soon had studies showing statins can prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease. By finding other uses, the drug companies can significantly increase their sales.
That's what has happened with diabetic nerve pain. A recent study found that certain antidepressants and even anti-seizure drugs are two types of drugs that effectively treat diabetic nerve pain.
About 50% of diabetics have some form of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This is nerve damage caused by high levels of blood sugar. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can include nerve pain, numbness, and tingling in the legs and feet. The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing neuropathy. What's worse, neuropathy can lead to amputation if it's not treated correctly.
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But here's the problem with this new research. It doesn't prove that using these drugs treats the disease "correctly." All they know is that they can provide some pain relief in the short term. Julie Waldfogel, PharmD, of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and author of the systematic review (which looked at 106 studies), said: "Unfortunately, more research is still needed, as the current treatments have substantial risk of side effects, and few studies have been done on the long-term effects of these drugs."
In my mind, "substantial risk of side effects" is not treating a disease "correctly." There may be situations where that's the only choice you have. But neuropathy isn't one of those situations. In fact, there are much better ways to treat this pain.
Waldfogel continued to describe the problems with this review: "Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence available to determine if these treatments had an impact on quality of life." But that's not all. All of the studies in the review were short term (less than six months). And all of the studies on the effective drugs had more than 9% of the participants drop out due to adverse effects. In other words, taking these drugs might help your pain in the short term, but could create substantial problems down the road.
But, like I said, there are other ways to treat neuropathy. First, you have to get your blood sugar under control. Diet and exercise are vital. But nutrients can play an important role as well. You can take a formula such as Advanced Blood Sugar Formula to help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. And you can treat your nerves with Advanced Nerve Support to help keep them healthy and avoid the pain of neuropathy. Drugs should always be your treatment of last resort, when nothing else works.
But if you ever contract an antibiotic-resistant superbug, talk to your doctor about taking vitamin E or other fat-soluble vitamins with your antibiotics. It could save your life.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.