What Causes Diabetic Nerve Pain?

August 2, 2020 by Maria Johnson

While medical professionals can guess at what causes diabetic neuropathy pain, it is still unclear exactly what is happening inside the body to bring about this condition. After many years of research and study it has been concluded that this painful situation is the result of blood glucose levels being out of control.

According to a study conducted in 1993 published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have learned that when blood glucose levels are under control this can reduce the number of flare-ups of this painful condition. Often to better manage these blood glucose levels your doctor may prescribe treatments like insulin therapy to help.

Still, even with this knowledge, it is difficult to understand how the blood glucose level can have an impact on the nerves. While it is known that elevated glucose levels can in fact damage the nerve connections, it is a condition that is not evident in all diabetics. It is estimated that approximately 70% of diabetics actually develop this kind of condition during the course of their disease.

Therefore there must be additional contributing factors that are promoting the development of this disorder. So, the development of diabetic nerve pain is often the result of a combination of conditions all working together to damage the body's nervous system causing the painful flare ups.

Causes of Diabetic Nerve Pain

If you are diabetic, there are many potential causes of suffering from this condition.

  1. Age is considered to be a major factor in the causes of this painful condition. It appears that as a patient gets older, the flare-ups are more frequent or the condition becomes even more apparent.
  2. The length of time you've suffered from the condition also seems to be a strong contributor to neuropathy pain. Those who have been a diabetic for more than 25 years tend to have more problems with this kind of condition than others. So, it appears that the length of time one has been struggling to manage blood glucose levels seems to be a major contributing factor in the frequency and intensity of flare-ups.
  3. Another indicator that leads to this kind of discomfort is your lifestyle choice. Certain habits seem to have a major impact on the condition, worsening the flare ups when they do occur. Those who have the habit of regularly drinking alcohol or smoking tend to have more extreme cases of this particular condition than those who do not.
  4. Researchers are also looking closely at previous injuries or damage to the nerves in a patient's history. Diabetics who have had damaged nerves that resulted in inflammation as a result of mechanical injuries like those associated with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome or through a physical injury appear to be more susceptible to the development of diabetic nerve pain. Whatever the case, once the nerves have become damaged their ability to send messages to the brain become skewed and the result is the painful condition.
  5. Medications have also been found to be a contributing factor in the development of neuropathy in diabetics. Often, diabetics with other medical conditions that require drug treatment to control may inadvertently be damaging their nerves. The side development of painful feelings from nerve damage can therefore be one of the major side effects of the drugs they may already be taking.

How to Identify the Causes

Because there are so many different possible causes of diabetic nerve pain, getting to the root cause can be difficult. Medical professionals may recommend that you visit a specialist in order to get to the source. The specialist will collaborate with your doctor to help identify the best treatment option for your particular case. With specialized knowledge, they can better identify an effective treatment option that has a much better chance of success at bringing you relief from your condition.

Conventional Treatment Options

Once you are able to identify the cause of your diabetic nerve pain, finding the right treatment option is the next important thing. Since there are so many different factors that could be contributing to your discomfort, there are also many options for treatment. If you know the root cause of your neuropathy then you have a better chance of managing the pain if your treatment targets the root cause. The recovery time will largely depend on how long you've had the condition and how intense the nerve pain is, the type of neuropathy you have, and how long you've had it.

If you have peripheral neuropathy (damage of nerves leading to the extremities in the body), you may be prescribed anticonvulsant medications or drugs that are more commonly prescribed for the treatment of blood pressure or cancer to help ease your symptoms.

With autonomic neuropathy (damage to the nerves designed to control the body's automatic functions like the heart beating, breathing, and digestion, it could be a matter of modifying your diet along with medication.

And with proximal neuropathy (damage to the nerves that affect the muscles) there could be another battery of medications prescribed to treat the condition.

Natural Treatment Options

Regardless of the type of condition you may have or its root cause there are also a number of natural treatment options that have proven successful in reducing the number of flare-ups. Many have found the use of dietary supplements to be very effective in helping to bring blood glucose levels back under control.

Supplements like Nerve Renew by the Neuropathy Treatment Group, for example, developed by medical herbalists and scientific researchers, is a combination of herbs, vitamins, and antioxidants all known to have worked well in the treatment of this painful condition. While they may not work as fast as the usual medications prescribed, many can help the patient avoid the risk of complications or nasty side effects often associated with drugs.


Whatever the case, the best way to treat diabetic nerve pain is to first understand it. This is often easier said than done but by working with a specialist, identifying the root cause can lead directly to an effective course of treatment that will bring you relief from your suffering and get you back to a normal way of life.

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