feet hurt, nighttime leg cramps

Nerve pain (polyneuropathy) is hard to treat. Even heavy-duty narcotics may not ease the pain adequately.

This is bad news, especially for people with diabetes. Up to 16 percent of them may suffer with diabetic neuropathy and often get little help alleviating the pain. Certain supplements can be helpful, though.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid for Nerve Pain:

Q. My husband has suffered with polyneuropathy for three years. After his doctors said there was no cure, we located a cure at our vitamin store and want to share it with others.

He takes 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) daily. We are elated with the results. We have a neighbor who also began taking it and he too is much improved.

A. A randomized, placebo-controlled study in Russia and Israel showed that 600 mg of ALA daily can greatly ease the symptoms of neuropathy such as stabbing or burning pain, numbness and “pins and needles” (Diabetes Care, Nov. 2006).

A recent article points out that ALA is one of the few treatments that has shown promise for diabetic polyneuropathy and calls for more research (Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, online Feb. 5, 2013).

A meta-analysis from the Netherlands found that alpha-lipoic acid (600 mg/day) offered significant benefit for polyneuropathy (Diabetic Medicine, online Jan. 29, 2016). So did opioids, botulinum toxin A (Botox) and Thai foot massage-a surprising list.

Consider Benfotiamine:

Another non-prescription approach to this problem is benfotiamine, a synthetic form of the B vitamin thiamine. We learned about it from Charles Beauchamp, MD, PhD, several years ago. He recommends a starting dose of 300 mg twice a day to start with, and 150 mg twice daily as maintenance. After he made this recommendation, we heard from a reader:

“I appreciate the suggestion of benfotiamine for my foot pain. Within a month it has totally cleared up, and I am ready to move to a maintenance regimen.”

Much of the recent research on benfotiamine for polyneuropathy has been done in Eastern Europe and has not been published in English. German scientists who did a randomized controlled trial of benfotiamine found that it was well tolerated and helped ease pain (Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, Nov., 2008). An earlier German study had also found that benfotiamine can alleviate polyneuropathy (International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Feb., 2005).

You’ll find more stories about benfotiamine at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Share your experience with remedies for nerve pain in the comments below.

Revised 7/7/2016

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  1. Sandy

    Hi, I would like to know did anyone report lyrics to the FDA, if not please do so. This medication Lyric is very harmful, I have take it and the side effects out weigh any benefit it drove me into deep depression and not to mention excessive amount of weight gain 6lbs in one day.

    Yes, my legs and hands are huge and upper chest , and severe loss of sight. I would recommend you have a talk with your doctor concerning, the med there must be an alternative. God bless all of you and thank you so much for sharing your story.

  2. Moma
    Houston, Tx

    I had a broken back in 2001 The surgery went well performed by a young dr. with steady hands.. I have plates & screws. I started having arthritis about 2013 and knee problems.. I started falling about 2014. I injured both rotator cuffs & had surgeries in 2014. Then a cancer in 2015.

    I was left with drop foot in both feet then corporate tunnel in both wrists and rediculous lack of balance with no dizziness. It seemed like there must be something connected to all my physical problems except the cancer surgery but it was lengthy & pressure on my back. My dr. has just put me on Lyrica for 2 months then to see a spinal surgeon for consultation only to see if there is a connection. I will post the results later.

    My side effects from 4 days on Lyrica are ms symptoms & I have to use a walker now, a little blurred vision & what I see is very interesting & it’s hard to focus, the med hurts my stomach without food, & sleepiness. St this point I can’t really complain.

  3. Glenn
    Brisbane Australia

    I have MS (34 years) and have had numbness in my feet for over 16 years and burning on legs and buttocks for over 9 years. I have now reached the stage with the burning where I need help but do not want to take Lyrica due to the side effects. Does anyone with MS take a natural supplement for their burning and numbness.

  4. David D.

    I have nerve damage in my groin due to a inguinal hernia surgery operation where the surgeon stitched through a nerve. I have numbness, prickly pain and significant discomfort. Has anyone encountered any vitamin supplements that might help with this particular type of nerve problem?

  5. Lori Stevens

    I self diagnosed idiopathic PN a year ago, doctor formally 4 months ago. I have no pain (yet) and this scares the crud out of me. Being a research freak with internet handy, I’ve read about the plethora of recommended supplements. So far, with a chosen “cocktail.” Key, perhaps is the ALA, B12, Magnesium, among others, and a super healthy diet- organic, gluten free, no/low sugar, and 4 mile walk a day. Fingers crossed!

    • DeeAnn
      Long Island, NY

      I just came across this forum and wish I had a year ago. Lori, I wonder how your “cocktail” has worked for you so far? It seems to be just the right ingredients! I too was about to go the the natural market to get the ALA and B12. Your post reminded me to look into the Magnesium as well. Thank you for that! It seems to be just enough to start a regimen that excludes the prescription my neurologist threw at me when he didn’t have enough time or interest to hear me through my symptoms nor the questions I had for him. Good luck to you, and my fingers are crossed now too!

  6. Jen

    I have recently been prescribed Lyrica for Trigeminal neuralgia. After reading the side effects of this drug I’m wondering if there is an alternative. Has anyone used vitamin supplements for this type of pain, which involves extreme pain on the right side of my jaw, teeth and face?

  7. Jc

    And if so, did it help at all? Even when you took it with opiates?

    • Sue

      I have a Neo-B12 Injection every three to four weeks, and am on Endep 50mg taken one to two hours before bed for Peripheral Neuropathy. I took 10mg with no improvement, then 20mg which I had some benefit from. I had to beg my Doctor to let me take 50mg which has been much more beneficial. I have read that patients do take more but as I have put on a lot of weight, I’m not keen to do so.
      Also I have read about Alpha-Lipoic Acid for nerve pain but some horrific stories that scared me off. I hope this helps.

  8. Jc

    Has anyone tried Lyrica for back pain and leg pain vs surgery?

  9. BeBe

    Does anyone take ALA for neuropathy in feet caused by chemo. Thanks for a reply.

  10. Patricia
    Toronto, Canada

    Would ALA help with fibromyalgia pain? I have tried gabapentin, lyrica etc and did not like the side effects. I am desperate to get relief.

  11. Beth
    Baltimore Maryland

    Long ago I heard about a lack of vitamin B causing nerve pain in hands and feet. After a car accident left me with mild drop foot on one side and sciatica on the other, I have progressed over 20 years to burning on the foot and loss of strength in both feet. I recently woke in the night with burning pain, and went downstairs and took a B complex in a sleepy stupor. I wasnt thinking clearly, but my instincts were right on, and within 20 minutes the pain was gone. The pill is nasty tasting and so I have not been good about taking them- till now. When I miss for a couple days, its apparent.

  12. SissyGirl

    All of this sounds so wonderful to me. I’m going to take these suggestions with me to the Dr. and ask him what he thinks is best for me. I’m taking Methadone and Hydromorphone for the pain and it doesn’t all way’s help.

    Lyrica help me gain 30 lbs. And it has taken me a long time to get the weight back off. One thing a person doesn’t need is weight gain when you are in chronic pain.

    The Gabapentin kept me in fog and I got lost in my own home and couldn’t think a straight thought and I didn’t bathe for a week so they had to go. When I had major back surgery and the surgeon cause me to have problems I had never had before so all of this is new to me.When I woke up from the back surgery I couldn’t feel the left side of my left leg and my left foot wasn’t right. After 3 day’s of not being able to get up and walk because I now have Neuropathy!

    I had never heard of it so the Dr. stuck me in a nursing home and I was so under medicated it took over 30 days to get well enough to go home. I had to leave the home for a day and go to a Pain Management to get enough meds. to get well. 3 years later and I still can’t feel my toes and the left side of my leg. So when I shave I have to pay attention because I can’t feel the razor on my leg.

    The Dr. never accepted responsibility for the nerve damage he caused to my left side and told me to have a nice life and if i need him again, please come back. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. No thank you sir, You did enough damage to my body the first time around. You won’t get a second chance.Once was a enough! And the back surgery was suppose to eliminate the need for pain meds and be pain free for the rest of my life. and he failed me miserably.

  13. Lida

    I just saw that there is a supplement formula from Doctor’s Best that contains both alpha lipoic acid and benfotiamine
    Would it be okay to take both at same time or is it an either/or situation?

  14. Lida

    Are there any contraindications with taking either supplement at that dosage? Are there any prescription meds that will be affected by these supplements?

  15. John
    Carrollton, TX

    I had terrible sharp burning pains in my feet and legs caused by peripheral neuropathy. This went on for some time until I mentioned it to my foot doctor. He prescribed something new to the market telling me that 95% of his patients were getting relief. It is named “Metanx” and as I said is a prescription. It isn’t cheap but my pain is totally gone.

    If you buy it direct from the maker, they offer a discount that no pharmacy can match. It works for me and maybe some of you can get some sleep after taking it. I know I am. I can actually feel my feet again where they used to be numb and dead feeling.

  16. Cindy
    Bethesda MD

    I have had (relatively) mild ideopathic peripheral neuropathy on the balls of my feet for decades. Especially when trying to get to sleep at night, I rub Aspercreme on the affected areas, which almost eliminates the symptoms for 4-5 hours. If I wake up during the night, I reapply and the effect is again almost immediate. I have tried many other creams with no affect.

    I also found a significant reduction by practicing meditation. When my nervous system quiets down, so do the symptoms.

  17. Carol
    North Carolina

    Used benfotiamine and it worked, but after a couple of weeks I realized that I smelled really bad!! Quit taking it but good effects have lasted. My sister said she had a similar problem with the related med, thiamine.

  18. Bunny

    Thank you all so much for the feedback on ALA. My husband had a wisdom tooth removed about five years ago and the dental surgeon damaged a nerve way down in his jaw area. He has been in an incredible amount of pain and on heavy pain meds ever since. Our daughter sent us this article this morning and we are going to try ALA.

  19. Cathie

    Hello, I was diagnosed with mild sensory neuropathy in both feet in 2012. The soles of my feet burned at night, and I had shooting pains in my toes also. I’d get up and put both feet in cold water, which relieved the pain temporarily.

    My PCP put me on Gabapentin 300 mg three times a day, and it worked for awhile. Then, it got worse, and a neurologist put me on 600 mg 4 times a day, and it quit hurting. But, I had some memory loss, like couldn’t spell some words while typing, and some slurred speech, and couldn’t seem to finish a sentence; could not think of the word.

    I had read “Grain Brain” by Dr. Perlmutter. On his web site, he said if you took 600 mg of ALA and 1,000 mcg of Be-12, you could cut your dose of Gabapentin in half in 6 to 8 weeks. I did it and it worked for me. Thank God, now I’m typing better, no slurred speech, or hunting for the right word, although once in a while, it will happen.

  20. Margaret

    I had horrible nerve pain in both legs. Could be anywhere from my butt to my feet. I have neuropathy in my feet. I take Benfotiamine – 600 mg. (300 mg. does not do it for me)

    150 mg.- morning – 150 mg. noon – 300 mg. evening. It eliminates it for me about 98% . My sister has had the same results.

    • Sarah
      Los Angeles

      Do you happen to know the cause of your nerve pain?

    • Fern Roy

      I found instead of taking gabapentin 300mg 3 X a day I just take 100mg when the nerve pain hits my feet and it takes it right away. I find I need to take one pill about every two weeks or so. Been doing this for at least 2 yrs or more.

  21. Ken

    I’ve been a victim of the overprescribing of pharma giant Pfizer’s, “Lyrica”. I know the desperation untreated fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and nerve pain brings. All I can add is that settling for a quick fix like Lyrica seems like blissful relief to start out with, but it can turn on you with a viscous quickness. I implore you, don’t settle for less. You’ll pay in the end.

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