Q: I want you to know that I absolutely love Diabetes Health. I read it cover to cover and then send it to my mother, who does the same. I have been insulin-dependent for nearly 26 years, and my mother has an insulin-dependent cat. We savor all of the news, enjoy the editorials and laugh at the cartoons. Diabetes Health is very informative, up-to-date and readable.
I would like to know if there are helpful treatments, either traditional or alternative, for neuropathy in the intestinal wall.
I have struggled with painful neuropathy in the lower left abdominal region for many years. I also struggle with neuropathy of the hands, feet and bladder and have to self-catheterize every four hours. I have tried several medications to treat it, including Tegretol, Neurontin and Elavil. But they have not really alleviated the pain, and they have disabling side effects. For many years, I used a regimen of Tegretol and a Duragesic (fentanyl patch) with Percocet for breakthrough pain. The Tegretol makes me drowsy, so I stopped taking it. Now I am taking only fentanyl with an occasional Percocet for breakthrough pain. I have learned to live with the pain, but find it disabling.
Thanks again for providing such a magnificent magazine.
A: There may be treatments for neuropathy of the intestinal wall if that is what you have. Pain in the left lower abdominal region can come from a lot of causes that are not necessarily related to neuropathy of either the intestine or other organs such as the abdominal skin, nerves or muscle, not to mention all the other intra-abdominal viscera that could be the culprits. You need to get a careful evaluation by a physician to determine the exact site of origin of the pain.
If it is neuropathy, the question remains as to what type of neuropathy this is. It could be radiculopathy, mononeuritis (inflammation of a single nerve) multiples or intestinal autonomic neuropathy, which all require different types of treatment. Your doctor needs to define the type and then treat it appropriately.
Aaron Vinik, MD, PHD
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Editor’s note: See the article on page 40 ("Growing Islets") about Dr. Vinik’s work on INGAP, which might help to reverse diabetes.