Diabetes, a silent killer, is a leading cause of neuropathy. Around 50% of diabetic patients develop peripheral neuropathy in 25 years. Painful diabetic neuropathy manifests as burning, excruciating, stabbing or intractable type of pain or presents with tingling or numbness. The pathophysiology of this condition is due to primarily metabolic and vascular factors. There is increase in sorbitol and fructose, glycated endproducts, reactive oxygen species and activation of protein kinase C in the diabetic state. All these factors lead to direct damage to the nerves. The first step in the management of painful diabetic neuropathy is a tight glycaemic control. Currently there is no drug which can halt or reverse the progression of the disease. Most of the therapies prevalent aim at providing symptomatic relief. Antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have good efficacy in controlling the symptoms. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have not shown the same consistent results. Anticonvulsants including pregabalin, gabapentin and lamotrigine have shown good results in the control of symptoms whereas same was not found with carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine and topiramate. Topical agents (capsaicin, topical nitrates and topical TCAs) and local anaesthetics have also been used with good results. Use of opioids and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs although common but is not preferable. The newer therapies under studies are NMDA antagonists, aldose reductase inhibitors, neurotropic factors, vascular endothelial growth factor, Gamma linolenic acid, protein kinase C beta inhibitors, immune therapy, hyperbaric oxygen and alpha lipoic acid.
Kaur, Pandhi, Dutta, , , , , , (2011). Painful diabetic neuropathy: an update. Annals of neurosciences, 2011 Oct;18(4):168-75. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25205950