Struggling with diabetes pain? A new drug may help

If you suffer from chronic diabetic-related nerve pain, a new drug may offer some hope.

Nabilone, a substance currently used in Canada to help chemotherapy patients deal with nausea, was found to produce pain-relieving results in patients with diabetic neuropathy--a condition caused by nerve damage, which can result in tingling, numbness or burning pain. The condition is one seen in about half of all diabetics, and many people who suffer from it report they have trouble sleeping, walking and performing everyday activities due to chronic pain.

The study

The findings come from a study at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute, where researchers tracked 60 patients with diabetic neuropathy over the course of 12 weeks. One group in the study took a placebo, while the others took doses of nabilone. At the end of the study, patients taking nabilone reported better sleep, less pain and reduced anxiety. The control group did not show these improvements.

Nabilone, a synthetic cannabiniod, produces similar effects to those of marijuana. One study participant--a type-2 diabetic who was in the group that took nabilone--reported that the drug produced desired results:

"My pain was so severe that I could barely walk a block. After taking nabilone I can manage my pain and I can function day to day."

A new option for diabetics?

The drug is approved for use in Canada and is also approved by the FDA. Researchers say this trial can help validate the use of nabilone as a treatment option for those suffering from diabetic neuropathy.

"This study gives physicians support to consider further options in treating this devastating chronic pain disorder," said Dr. Mark Ware, Associate Professor at the McGill University Health Centre.

Another potential benefit of the drug is that patients reported very few side effects.

Source: Science Daily

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