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Drugs Aging. 2001;18(10):737-49.

Management of painful diabetic neuropathy.

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University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, Department of Pharmaceutical Care, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a prevalent disease in the US which affects more than 15 million people. As the disease progresses over time, neuropathic pain can become a common complication; it is present in more than 50% of individuals with diabetes mellitus aged >60 years. The pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy is theorized to be multifactorial. Numerous medications, some with different mechanisms of action, have been examined regarding their effects on the symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy such as pain, paraesthesia and numbness. However, the majority of the studies have included small patient populations. Tricyclic antidepressants, amitriptyline and desipramine in particular, have been relatively well studied and shown to be effective. However, anticholinergic adverse effects may limit their usefulness and may preclude use in the elderly. Studies have also shown gabapentin to be effective and well tolerated in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Capsaicin cream provides another treatment option with a favourable adverse effect profile. Many other medications have been evaluated in diabetic neuropathy; however, more placebo-controlled studies with adequate patient populations need to be performed to solidify their role in treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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