Diabetes is a lifestyle disease which develops as a result of a sedentary lifestyle besides other factors like family history, obesity, unhealthy eating habits, stress etc. Balancing blood sugar levels is the key to managing diabetes and to preventing related health complications. One of the most commonly occurring diabetes-related complications is cramps and leg pain, which can result in frozen toes or a painful knot in your leg calves. Especially, leg pain in diabetes can be torturing. Being woken up in the middle of a peaceful night is certainly not pleasant. Let us examine this condition and look at the possible solutions to get some relief from diabetic leg pain.
Generally linked to poor flexibility and muscle fatigue, muscle cramps occur when a skeletal muscle involuntarily contracts. Usually occurring in the calves, feet, front and back of the thighs, these also tend to affect the arms. While anyone with muscle weakness can be affected, muscle cramps are more prevalent among diabetics due to weakening of nerves resulting from fluctuating blood sugars.
Relation to Diabetes
Since our muscles contract and expand with the help of glucose, as is the balanced exchange of electrolytes, for example calcium, magnesium and potassium. At the time of high blood sugar, the excess glucose secreted combined with water and other salts result in electrolyte balance getting affected.
Diabetics with peripheral vascular disease and diabetic neuropathy are more prone to muscle cramps and leg pain due to impaired circulation to the nerves. Muscle cramps are also a result of side effects of medicines prescribed for diabetes. These include insulin, lipid (cholesterol) lowering agents, anti-hypertensives (blood pressure medications), oral contraceptives or beta-agonists.
Treatment of Cramps and Leg Pain in Diabetes
- Stretching a little before going to bed always helps. Place your hands against a wall in front of you at your shoulder height. Place the leg you want to stretch behind you and place your heels on the ground, toes facing forward. Stretch your calf by leaning forward on your other leg. Repeat once or twice with each leg.
- Massage the calves using mustard oil and pull your toes upwards towards the top of your foot to cure cramping incidents.
- Dietary supplements help fulfil the nutritional and vitamin deficiencies which must be taken with a doctor’s prescription.
- To ease your leg pain, consider going for short walks so your leg muscles receive better blood circulation. Soak your legs in a warm bath. You can also elevate your legs a little by placing your feet on a cylindrical pillow to allow blood circulation to reverse towards your thighs.
Frequent cramps and shooting leg pain is an indication of progressing diabetic neuropathy and you must consult your doctor right away. Even mild symptoms must be reported as these may not be related to neuropathy but can lead to peripheral artery disease, a serious condition of blocked blood vessels in the legs. This condition also increases your risk of stroke and serious heart attacks.
Always ensure you are regularly checking your blood sugars using the smartphone glucometer and keep discussing your symptoms with the doctor as this may save you from serious health complications.