Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain or neuropathy, refers to painful sensations around the nerves. Various treatment options are available, including anticonvulsants, certain antidepressants, mild opioids, and some topical treatments.
Scientists define nerve pain or neuropathy as any condition in which an individual has sustained damage to their nerves.
This article looks at the main types of medications for neuropathy, discussing which have the most positive effects. It also considers what the science has to say about nonpharmacological treatments for this condition.
The typical symptoms of neuropathy include:
- pain near any affected nerves
- burning or pricking sensations
A wide range of underlying conditions can cause this type of pain.
Anticonvulsants are first-line medications that help manage the symptoms of seizure disorders, such as epilepsy.
Although they are often effective, these medications can cause adverse effects.
Gabapentin can also lead to blurred vision, while pregabalin can cause weight gain.
A person should consult a doctor if they notice these symptoms after taking anticonvulsants.
However, these medications
Amitriptyline is a TCA that can help people manage nerve pain. However, it can lead to a host of unwanted effects, including:
- dry mouth
- feeling sleepy, tired, or weak
- urinary retention
In rare cases, some people may have serious side effects after taking amitriptyline. These may include:
- abnormal heart rhythms
- the whites of eyes turning yellow
- long lasting confusion or weakness
- frequent muscle cramps
- eye pain, a change in eyesight, or swelling or redness in or around the eye
Duloxetine and venlafaxine
Examples of SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor). A
However, these drugs can result in side effects.
Duloxetine can cause:
- dry mouth
- difficulties with:
The possible side effects of venlafaxine include:
- high blood pressure
- excessive sweating
People should speak with a doctor if they are experiencing side effects that are affecting their quality of life.
Tramadol (Ultram) and tapentadol (Nucynta) are opioids that can help with neuropathic pain. However, there is evidence that both medications can cause side effects, some of which are serious. These include:
- nausea and vomiting
Doctors are less keen to prescribe stronger opioids for neuropathic pain. Stronger opioids for neuropathy include morphine and oxycodone, which cause similar side effects as those above.
Morphine can also lead to dizziness, while oxycodone might induce breathing difficulties. There is also a risk of tolerance, dependence, or misuse, potentially leading to opioid use disorder.
A person should seek immediate medical attention if these drugs are affecting their breathing or causing severe side effects. It is also important to follow the prescription carefully.
Topical treatments are creams, ointments, or patches that individuals can place on their skin. The active components of these products should travel through the skin and into the body, where they will affect the nerves.
Lidocaine causes pain relief by
In some cases of neuropathic pain, doctors may recommend that an individual take multiple medications at once. However, the evidence for the effectiveness of combined therapy remains inconclusive.
Combining different drugs sometimes provides improved pain relief and tolerability.
However, sufficient evidence has not yet emerged to confirm that combination therapy is more effective than monotherapies.
Despite medical advances, pharmacological treatments for neuropathic pain may only be effective in less than 50% of cases. Therefore, many people seek alternative sources of treatment for this condition.
There is limited evidence that nonpharmaceuticals are helpful in this regard.
Doctors may prescribe various medical treatments for nerve pain, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids, and topical medications.
In some cases, they may recommend multiple treatments at once. However, the existing research has not determined whether it is more effective than a single treatment.