Thursday, 26 April 2012

Insulin Neuritis

Insulin Neuritis : A strange and little known diabetic complication

I decided to write this post because currently my feet are burning and tingling and I can tell it is going to be one of those nights...

I currently suffer from Insulin Neuritis.  This is not a complication that you read about in many diabetes books or blogs.  The symptoms are mainly tingling/prickling/hot and cold sensations in my feet, hands and sometimes oddly enough my face.  My endocrinologist has told me this is an extremely rare complication and is usually found in only newly treated diabetics.  It almost acts as an allergic reaction to insulin. 

It is caused by the rapid decrease in blood glucose levels brought on by the use of insulin.  In my case, my HBA1C went from about 15 to 8 in a few months and this is when I started to notice these sensations.  They come and go, sometimes they are extremely aggravating and sometimes only slightly annoying.  Sometimes it does keep me up at night and that is especially annoying because then my glucose is off the next day.  I have noticed lack of sleep definitely effects my sugars.

The good news is that my endocrinologist claims that the neuritis should leave without treatment in about 12 months.  Initially, I was very worried because I thought that I had already developed some form of neuropathy.  After doing filament tests and reflex tests he assures me that I have no signs of actually neuropathy.  I can live with the insulin neuritis for now.  Hopefully it does go away soon though as it has been about 9 months since my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.

I just thought I would write this because as a newly diagnosed diabetic this is something you could experience.  There is not much information on the internet on this subject but if you are experiencing these symptoms or have been given this diagnosis please know there are others out there who have it as well.  I have found that squeezing my feet does help alleviate some of the pain.  Other than that I have found no easy tricks to deal with it.  The good news is it is not permanent!

Update on Insulin Neuritis

My Insulin Neuritis has gotten worse over the past few months.  I spoke to my Dr, about it and they were surprised it had not gone away yet but were concerned about the pain it was causing me.  The burning sensation has increased over the past few months.  They basically said there were two options...

1.) Opiates

2.) Gabapentin aka, Neurontin

Now, I will take as many opiates as the next guy if I have temporary pain like a broken foot or finger or whatever.  What I do not want to do is take it for a chronic pain issue that is more of a nerve issue.  I know some people have no choice in taking opiates for their pain management and I am not saying that is a bad thing.  I believe everyone has the right to try to live a pain free life.  No judging here.

I know for a fact that I would probably get in trouble with some sort of addiction problem if I had to take an opiate a few times a day.  I have suffered withdrawal from enough prescription drugs that I know I want to minimize that aspect of my life.  It is extremely disruptive, painful, and straining.

Now, so far the Neurontin has worked fairly well for me.  I am taking one pill when I take the rest of my pills at 10:00 pm.  I find that wears off around 7 pm. so I take another one then.  My prescription says I could take two pills at breakfast, lunch and nighttime.  The first time I took one of these pills I was so off kilter the next day it was not even funny.  After a week of one pill I upped it to two at night time.  I do not suffer anymore of these effects...  that said I do not want to take the chance of using these during the day when I may have to drive, work, think, etc.  My pharmacist said it is safe to do so if you increase your dose gradually.  But, the fact is I do not need that for my pain right now so I am not going to risk it.  If I did have to take some in the morning I would definitely refrain from driving for at least a week or so.  Maybe others have had different experiences with this drug but I know it has been helpful for me.  

There are some weird side effects though, my dentist did warn me that it can increase the rate of tooth decay so that is something to watch out for.  As with everything else with this disease it is about balancing the pros and cons and figuring out in conjunction with your healthcare team what works for you.


  1. You've taught me something new today - insulin Neuritis! I know that a friend of mine - who went undiagnosed for many years (despite his wife asking me to talk to him - he wouldn't listen of course - stubborn man) - in the end when he did go onto insulin - he had a rare form of neuropathy - that I cannot even pronounce - it is where he was unable to have anything touching his skin - so basically he slept with no bed sheet on him - hardly any clothing - only comfort he found was soaking in the bathtub. He was off work for almost 2 years - until doctors here in Montreal figured out what it was / how to help him. I've lost touch with him over the years - and hope he's doing alright (his A1C was in the 10% range last time he went for blood work). Glad to hear tho' that this is only temporary! Keep up the good work with lowering your A1C! Do you have a goal in mind?

  2. Anonymous

    I am pretty sure my boyfriend has insulin neuritis as well. He has recently been diagnosed with LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes with adult onset; similar to type I diabetes but with slower and later onset)and initially felt very well with the insulin treatment. But gradually the problems started: tense and aching muscles, restlessness, numb spots, burning, itchy and pain sensations in legs and feet, especially at night. After 2 month of suffering and not a single night with more than a few hours of sleep we finally could convince his doctor to get us an appointment with a neurologist. We were both terrified about the possibility that this could already be a chronic diabetic complication that might not resolve (like the diabetes doctor suggested). Searching the web I stumbled about insulin neuritis/acute diabetic homeopathy and it all fits so well. Plus the symptoms normally resolve within a year which makes our lives much less hopeless. I hope that is what happened for you by now. If not, we found out yesterday that marihuana actually brings about some relief and allows him to sleep at least a bit (much better than with the Valium he got from the doctor). You don't want to make this a habit but it is an option to get at least some rest once in a while (luckily we live in the Netherlands and can legally buy the stuff in the coffee shop around the corner). So for now I keep my fingers crossed for you and for us!

    1. Hi there. I really like the Netherlands, it is such a great country! My wife and I really enjoy it but don't get to go too often as we live in Canada.

      I hope that your boyfriend starts feeling better soon. It is sometimes a challenge to stay hopeful after being diagnosed as there are so many major life changes that most people do not understand or sympathise with. I guess that is part of dealing with living with an invisible disease.

      The neuritis is a real pain and it is a challenge that I am still dealing with. I currently take 900 mg of neurontin (gabapentin) at night. I take clonazepam as well to help me sleep although honestly it doesn't work that well. I find that soaking my feet in water is sometimes helpful. Not really cold water though. Just slightly below room temperature. This doesn't work all the time but even some relief is good. I have heard from others that marijuana is useful in treating this sort of pain as well. Keep those fingers crossed.

  3. Hi! I'm glad I chanced upon your website and I only wish I had seen this much, much earlier. Like you, I'm also a recently diagnosed type 1 diabetic and when my blood sugar dropped drastically about five months ago (I had some infection and then surgery at the start of this year), I believe I experienced what was insulin neuritis.

    Thing is, I went to my endocrine and many doctors but no one told me about insulin neuritis (or even mentioned it). It has been about three months since, and I remembered mine got progressively worse to the point that I couldn't sleep at night or cover my feet with blankets. Since last month it's gotten better and I'm no longer bothered by it - so I really hope yours goes away soon too!

    Keeping fingers crossed for you too, and thank you for sharing your experiences - I really can relate and it makes me feel so much less alone!