Alternative treatments for diabetic neuropathy

Some complementary and alternative therapies may help relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy. But if you're considering alternative therapies, consult your doctor. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of specific options for diabetic neuropathy symptoms.

Alternative therapies for diabetic neuropathy might include:

  • Capsaicin. This is the chemical that gives hot peppers their bite. When applied to the skin, capsaicin creams (ArthriCare, Zostrix, others) can reduce pain sensations in some people. Side effects may include a burning feeling and skin irritation.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid. One of the most interesting developments in pain research is the discovery that alpha-lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant found in food, may be effective at relieving the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Your doctor may prescribe this therapy, which can help prevent pain signals from reaching your brain. TENS delivers tiny electrical impulses to specific nerve pathways through small electrodes placed on your skin. Although safe and painless, TENS doesn't work for everyone or for all types of pain. TENS may be prescribed in addition to other treatments.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture may help relieve the pain of neuropathy, and generally doesn't have any side effects. Keep in mind that you may not get immediate relief with acupuncture and will likely require more than one session.
  • Biofeedback. This therapy uses a special machine to teach you how to control certain body responses that reduce pain. You then learn how to control these same responses yourself. Biofeedback techniques are often taught in medical centers and hospitals.
Feb. 27, 2014 See more In-depth