Don’t use opioids for painful diabetic neuropathy, scientists warn

Credit: Jacob Dwyer, Michigan Medicine

In a new study from the University of Michigan, researchers found the most common prescription taken for painful nerve damage in diabetes is likely dangerous.

Despite this risk, and a lack of evidence that opioids stop pain associated with diabetic neuropathy over the long term, researchers found they are the most-prescribed treatment for this painful condition.

Not only do opioids come with risks, but there is also no good evidence that they are effective in the long term.

Instead, the new guideline recommends offering one of four classes of oral medications with strong evidence:

tricyclic antidepressants; serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs, another category of antidepressants; gabapentinoids, non-opioid analgesics commonly prescribed for chronic pain; and sodium channel blockers, which the guideline team’s meta-analysis determined to be effective for neuropathic pain.

When a drug hasn’t helped after three months, it’s time to try another, according to the new guideline.

The second recommendation urges the provider to be frank with patients that the goal is to reduce their pain. It may not be possible to completely resolve the symptoms.

While more than 15% of people with diabetes experience peripheral neuropathy that’s painful, there are still too many people who might never discuss it with their doctor, and thus not get any treatment for it,

The team says it’s important to ask people with diabetes about the presence of painful neuropathy.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about common cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and findings of food that could cut your diabetes risks.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about common anti-inflammatory drugs that could help cut COVID-19 deaths, and results showing this common food may improve your blood pressure, blood sugar.

The study is published in Neurology. One author of the study is Brian Callaghan, M.D., M.S.

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