Saturday, October 2, 2010

When Children Suffer Painful Neuropathy: What Parents Can Do

The pain of diabetic neuropathy is most often diagnosed in middle aged adults who have type 2 diabetes. This debilitating condition is also found, however, in children and teens who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. When neuropathy occurs in a child or teen, special treatment is necessary.

It's important to know that painful neuropathy in children who have diabetes may not actually have been caused by the diabetes. There are cases on record of neuropathic pain developing after receiving rubella vaccine, as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, as a manifestation of M√ľnchausen syndrome, and even as a sympathetic reaction to observing a parent who had chronic physical pain. Diabetes may play a big or small role in the child's chronic pain, and controlling diabetes may play a big or small role in recovery. Every child who has diabetes needs to have well-controlled blood sugar levels, but controlling blood sugar levels may not be enough to bring an end to neuropathic pain.

Children do respond to TENS, drugs such as gabapentin and antidepressants, cognitive therapy and other forms of psychotherapy, lidocaine, and nerve blocks. They respond a lot better to improvements in the health conditions causing the chronic pain. It's best to treat a diabetic child's pain compassionately as best one is able in the short-term, but always, always focusing on controlling blood sugar levels to support normal growth and health and eventual complete recovery from diabetes-induced pain.

Selected References:

Walco GA, Dworkin RH, Krane EJ, LeBel AA, Treede RD. Neuropathic Pain in Children: Special Considerations. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010 Mar;85(3 Suppl):S33-41. Review.

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