Medication for Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuropathy may be caused by an underlying condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, a nutrient deficiency, or an autoimmune disease. Some neuropathy-related conditions improve on their own.

If you are diagnosed with a medical condition, your doctor may recommend certain medications to alleviate symptoms. Medications may be given by mouth, or in some cases, through a vein with intravenous (IV) infusion. Even if the neuropathy is not caused by an underlying condition, NYU Langone neurologists can prescribe medication to manage the related pain.

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are often unhelpful in alleviating the type of pain associated with neuropathy. For people with chronic nerve-related pain, a doctor may prescribe topical patches containing lidocaine or an anti-epileptic or antidepressant medication. 

Lidocaine may be applied as a patch that adheres to the skin, in the area where pain is severe.

A doctor may prescribe anti-epileptic medications, such as pregabalin (Lyrica®). Experts don’t know how these types of medications reduce chronic pain, but one theory is that they block the transmission of pain signals from the central nervous system. Side effects include dizziness and drowsiness. 

Antidepressants, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta®), have also been shown to lessen pain in people with peripheral neuropathy. The reason is not known, but these medications may increase chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters, some of which reduce pain signals. Side effects include insomnia, anxiety, and nausea. 

A doctor may also prescribe injections of steroids or anesthetics that lessen the pain signals.

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