Our mundane day to day functions depend upon the stability of our nerves and therefore it is vital for us that our nerves, and hence our nervous system is intact. A slight glitch in our nervous system can give rise to a multitude of problems that are hard to treat.
According to research, around half of people with diabetes develop nerve damage, and this causes diabetic neuropathy. Symptoms often do not begin until many years after diabetes has been diagnosed. Some persons, with diabetes that develops slowly, already have nerve damage when they are first diagnosed.
What is Neuropathy?
If you are experiencing any pain, itching, or burning sensation in your feet or your body, chances are that your nerves are damaged. Millions of people all over the globe are suffering from this problem which is known as neuropathy. If you are diabetic with poorly controlled blood sugar, your feet and eventually your hands will lose their nerve connection to the brain.
Neuropathy targets your feet first, because the nerves of the feet are long and are more difficult to keep healthy. The problem does not mean that you will experience these pains all the time. Sometimes, your nerves make the extremities feel numb.
Diabetic neuropathy is often worse than normal neuropathy because it will feel like you are under attack. The pain can be quite difficult to live with and will disrupt day to day life.
Research and Trends with Topical Medications
Recently, a study was conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in which the researchers proved that clonidine, applied topically three times daily for 12 weeks, reduces the pain in candidates suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
Another topical medication that can be used is lidocaine, which is an anesthetic and is available as 5 percent ointment, gel, or cream. This medication is used on the feet and hands, which is easily applied.
Topical medications are now compounded into mixtures by various doctors. Lidocaine and clonidine can be used together. Other medications such as amitriptyline can be added into the mixture to get the desired results.
The trend has shifted to topical medications now because of their various benefits and almost negligible side effects, as compared to oral and parenteral medications. Therefore, many diseases are now being treated by these medications. In diabetic neuropathy, topical medications play a significant role by eliminating the pain right on the spot.
Compounding Substances used in Topical Pain Medications
• Capsaicin – In a multicenter study, topical capsaicin cream 0.075% was found to relieve the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. This medication is safe and effective, and research proved it to be statistically significant for the reduction of discomfort in certain patients.
• Clonidine – This drug is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), but because it has a unique action on the nervous system, it is also good for nerve pain. In a recent research study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, scientists found that topical clonidine used three times each day for 12 weeks greatly helped patients with diabetic neuropathy.
• Lidocaine – This medication is an anesthetic, and it works to numb the affected body area for pain relief. Compounding pharmacies mix it with other medications, as it can boost their effectiveness.
• Gabapentin – This is a muscle relaxer that is wonderful for pain relief. When added to the topical formulations, it can be quite beneficial for diabetic neuropathy.
PubMed Health (2013). Diabetes and nerve damage. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001713/
PubMed Health (2014). Treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy with topical capsaicin. A multicenter, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. The Capsaicin Study Group. Arch. Internal Medicine, 151 (11), 2225-2229.