Source of Diabetic Pain Possibly Uncovered

Source of Diabetic Pain Possibly Uncovered

By Staff.

A new study reveals the molecular basis of chronic nerve pain in diabetes, which could lead to new treatments that target the source of this type of pain.  Researchers from King’s College London published their findings in Science Translational Medicine,

About one-fourth of people with diabetes develop painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN), which is a chronic pain condition often described as sharp, shooting pains and extreme sensitivity to touch in the feet and hands.  If can significantly impair mobility and is very difficult to treat.

The molecular causes PDN are poorly understood. This new study provides evidence that a single protein molecule - HCN2 - can by itself be responsible for a complex sensation such as diabetic pain.

The researchers used mouse models of diabetes to show that over-activity of HCN2, which initiates electrical signals in pain-sensitive nerve fibers, results in a sensation of pain. They also found that blocking the activity of HCN2, or removing it completely from pain-sensitive nerve fibers, stopped the sensation of pain entirely.

Professor Peter McNaughton, who is the senior author of the studysaid, “The inexorable rise of obesity worldwide, in both rich and poorer countries, has brought a related increase in type 2 diabetes. As many as one in four diabetics suffer from nerve pain, yet there are currently no effective treatments and people therefore typically must resign themselves to a life of continuous suffering.”

“Our study reveals the molecular mechanism driving diabetic pain in mice, which we hope will inform future treatments in people with diabetes,” he added

Dr. Christoforos Tsantoulas, first author of the study, said, “At present we do not have selective drugs which can suppress the activity of HCN2 without affecting other bodily functions, such as the regulation of heart rate. This research provides a stimulus for the development of targeted pain drugs that can block HCN2 without affecting the activity of other molecules.”

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Authored by: Staff

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Debra McDonald

I have had it for years. I was given Gabapentin 25 years or so ago for diabetic neuropathy. I’ve been a diabetic for 31 years. Had neuropathy most of that time. I chose way back not to take the drug due to the information provided with it. Now I’m old and have neuropathy all over, with so much pain in my hands and legs I cannot work or even do normal everyday things. Sadly, with the opiate crap we have today my pain doctor will only give me the reduced meds (90 mg of Morphine and 10/325 Oxycontin which worked for years) Hydrocodone 10-325 if I also take a muscle relaxant, Tizanidine and Gabapentin with it. Now I’m seeing things that are not there, hearing things that are not happening and the people I love the most think I’m crazy. I quit for a couple of weeks and it stopped. Now at my doctors insistance, I returned to the drug that had me questioning my own sanity to keep even a little of the pain away. Now Im seeing things that aren’t there again but Im at least smart enough not to tell anyone.


I wanted to mention one more thing about my friends diabetic nerve pain. Despite his pain that keeps him writhing often, daily, no history of anything bad, doesn’t drink, smoke and no history of drugs, despite that, now that he is 57 and in pain, the doctors have loaded him down with a drug called gabapentin and refuse to treat him with anything else.

He eats these gabapentin, like candy. Like 15 capsules a day, and they don’t do anything at all. He can’t sit still for 5 Minutes because his feet and legs hurt that bad.

This business of giving pain patients This stuff and not real pain medicine, is a a crime.


Agreed. My friend has the awful diabetic nerve pain and he lives with the constant feeling of “it feels like someone is holding a torch under my feet and trying to drive me insane in pain”. Also, he is not over weight at all so I don’t want people to believe, like the article may suggest to some, that this is an over-weight issue because it is not that.

I am not diabetic, but I suffer severe nerve pain in one foot, leg, his, groin, back, and left hand, which I happen to write with.

If this new discovery could ever lead to the discovery of medicines that could target the cause of this awful nerve pain, my goodness, how incredible and big would this be. A breakthrough in the making!


I have a lot of neuropathic Pain but not diabetes. The Drug Tapentodol is very effective for it. Tapentodol, contrary to popular mythology, is only 10% opiate, the rest is neuropathic painkiller. Some epilepsy Meds like oxcarbazepine and Topiramate are also pretty effective for neuropathic pain.


Weve been hearing about new and wonderful discoveries in pain care but all too few are actually lowering the prevalence of pain or curing pain or making a big difference in the lives of people in pain. Due to decades of neglect pain research is like an old jalopy that creeps a petty pace. The idea that a single substance will make a big difference for pain is old fashioned and regressive. Its time to overhaul and update the old jalopy of pain research.


I also read about experiments involving the feeding of protein to Schwann cells that helped rejuvenate nerves at UC-San Diego in 2007-2008 and then never heard anything after that. Why does this happen? There are hundreds of millions of us in constant agony. Just totally ridiculous numbers of people and the timetables for these cures is obscene. Please help us, we don’t want to hurt anyone, we’re regular people just like you.


This could be the light at the end of the tunnel for other types of pain conditions. Maybe pain related to spinalcord injury and MS could benefit it in some way. It is frustrating to have pain that can not be controlled without opiates or electronic stimulation. We certainly need more education in pain management in this day and age. Finally it is making progress, that gives me hope.