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Managing nerve pain in diabetics

A skin patch containing the anaesthetic lignocaine has been found to be a useful treatment for the hand and foot nerve pain often experienced by diabetics.

Managing nerve pain in diabetics

A skin patch containing the anaesthetic lignocaine has been found to be a useful treatment for nerve pain in the hand and feet often experienced by people with diabetes.Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York, USA, tested the patch on 56 diabetic patients having nerve pain for longer than 3 months. A maximum of four patches could be given each day for a total of 18 hours. Many of the patients had allodynia, a condition in which pain is triggered by stimuli that are normally not painful. It was found that during a 3-week treatment period, most of the patients experienced a dramatic reduction in pain. Patients also reported an improved quality of life with treatment. Significant improvements were noted in sleep quality as well as in various psychological measures, such as depression and anger.The above benefits were maintained in a subgroup of patients treated for an additional 5 weeks during which time the dose of other pain medications could be slowly decreased. Moreover, pain relief and quality of life improvements with the patch were comparable in patients with and without allodynia. Even when used four times a day, the patches were well tolerated without any significant side effects. The findings need to be confirmed in a study in which some patients are treated with the lignocaine patch, while others receive an inactive placebo patch, according to the researchers.
Archives of Neurology,
June 2004

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