Slow healing of the wounds, heart, and kidney problems, lactic acidosis, and diabetic neuropathy are some complications of diabetes. Leg problems due to diabetes like diabetic foot, leg pain, and cramps are also common in diabetes patients. It occurs due to nerve damage. Often, the increased glucose levels in the blood obstruct the flow of oxygenated blood to the nerves of the feet. It results in intense leg pain and cramps. It may further lead to nerve damage and amputation when diabetes patients neglect the leg cramps symptom of diabetes.
What is Diabetes Leg Pain?
Sugar patients may experience diabetes pain as a dull ache in the soles, calves, and thighs. Sometimes, diabetes leg pain is present with pins and needles like sensations in the lower limb. The pain makes it difficult for sugar patients to sleep and difficult to walk. It happens due to an alteration in nerve sensitivity. Diabetes leg pain is due to the formation of sores and diabetic ulcers or compression of the nerves in the lower limbs.
Reason for Diabetes-Related Leg Pain
Poorly controlled diabetes is the primary cause of the pain and unusual sensation in the leg. When the blood sugar levels are high, the small-sized capillaries that deliver the blood to the nerves get damaged. Such damages occur on the periphery part of the body including, the leg and feet. The damaged nerves cause diabetic leg pain.
Also Read: Normal Blood Sugar Levels Chart
Risk Factors for Diabetes Leg Pain
Diabetes patients who drink alcohol, have a vitamin deficiency, infection, autoimmune disease, and repetitive motion are at a higher risk of developing diabetic cramps in feet. Therefore, diabetes patients should avoid drinking alcohol and check their legs for infection.
Nearly half of the diabetes population experience neuropathy. It is common in people who face difficulty in managing their blood sugar levels. The common cause of diabetic neuropathy that leads to diabetes-related leg pain is uncontrolled blood sugar levels. In addition to this, the other risk factors that may lead to diabetes leg pain are:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Repetitive motion
- Autoimmune diseases
Also Read: Ketosis vs Ketoacidosis
Symptoms of Diabetic Leg Pain
The diabetic leg pain symptoms impact the feeling and the movement as well. The diabetes leg pain due to neuropathy gradually begins with numbness or tingling in the feet. Burning and sharp pain are common. The other symptoms of diabetic leg pain as the syndrome progress are:
- Changes in the skin, nails, and hair
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in blood pressure
- Slow healing of the wounds
- Paralysis may occur
- Gastrointestinal issues in some patients
- Sharp, shooting, and burning pain
Anyone, who suffers from diabetic leg pain, experiences these symptoms to different degrees. The symptoms follow a progression. The progression depends on the alert for the symptoms and taking actions to prevent the damage.
Monitor the Leg Pain to Avoid Worsening
Addressing any form of leg pain is crucial for diabetes patients, even if the symptoms do not interfere with their daily routine. Frequent cramps and extreme pain are indications of worsening diabetic neuropathy. In such cases, diabetes patients should immediately consult with their doctors. They should discuss even mild leg pain as it can be a symptom of peripheral arterial disease. Diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing PAD by blocking blood vessels in the legs.
Also Read: Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Managing the Diabetic Nerve Leg Pain With Exercises
Exercising is a great way to keep you fit and healthy. It is suitable for diabetes patients too. Exercises help diabetes patients to manage their blood sugar levels, promote better blood flow in the body, strengthen muscles, and more. It also helps in reducing inflammation and leg pain due to diabetic neuropathy.
Exercises are the best way to stay healthy. If you have diabetes, regular exercises can help to manage your blood sugar levels. It also helps in preventing complications due to diabetes. Though exercises can’t reverse neuropathy, they can ease the diabetic nerve pain and keep you physically active. Here is a list of some exercises for diabetes patients to manage leg pain:
- Low-impact exercises: It includes swimming, yoga, cycling, walking, and more exercises that do not put much pressure on your muscles. Such exercises keep your body in motion so that your paining leg does not stop movement. These exercises cause less exertion while supporting your muscles, bones, and joints.
- Strength training: It includes the exercises in which some external resistance is there while doing the workout. Such resistance helps in improving muscular endurance, mental well-being and makes the bones stronger. Diabetes patients having leg cramps can do strength training exercises to reduce the leg cramps and strengthen leg muscles and bones.
- Balance and stability work: Damaged nerve function and sensation in your legs due to diabetes neuropathy increases the risk of falls in diabetes patients. Thus, you need to train your muscles and the neurons in charge of them to work together. One-legged exercises, planks, dead bugs, bird-dogs, and cable chops are exercises for balance and stability.
- Mind and body exercises: The nervous system needs exercises that calm down the mind and body. Yoga, tai chi, and meditation help manage various neurological disorders, including diabetes-related neuropathy. In addition to this, such exercises are also helpful in pain management. Yoga reduces stress levels, blood pressure, and inflammation and promotes better blood flow in the body. Therefore, people with diabetic neuropathy who practice yoga can manage diabetes leg cramps.
Diabetes patients should exercise for treating diabetes-related leg pain and cramps for at least 30 minutes a day. Regular exercises help in getting better results in managing pain and other diabetes-related health complications.
Also Read: Long Term Complications of Type 2 Diabetes
Managing Leg Pain Through Medications
Diabetic neuropathy is the common reason for leg pain and cramps in diabetes patients. It becomes debilitating without treatment. If you experience such unbearable pain, you need to consult your doctor as soon as possible. It will help you to get some instant relief. Over-the-counter medications help treat mild to moderate levels of leg pain. The prescription medicines for diabetic leg cramps treatment are:
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Pregabalin (Lyrica)
- Amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Valproic acid (Depakene)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Some opioid medications, like tramadol and tapentadol, and topical sprays are also available that help in treating pain.
Dietary Supplements to Ease Leg Cramps
A healthy diet is crucial for overall health and eliminating leg pain due to diabetes. Dietary supplements are there to fulfill the nutritional gap. These supplements provide the essential nutrients to your body that help in reducing leg cramps due to diabetes.
Dietary supplements are there in the market that help in easing pain, including diabetes-related leg cramps. The supplements provide essential nutrients that are responsible for repairing nerve tissues and prevent further damage. Some trusted supplements for treating diabetic neuropathy are:
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that is responsible for bone health. It also supports healthy nerve function and reduces the swelling that may lead to severe pain. The Sun-rays are the best source of Vitamin D in addition to milk and some other food items. Dietary supplement for Vitamin D is also available in the market that helps treat a deficiency of Vitamin D.
- Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 is responsible for promoting healthy nerve function and prevent further nerve damage. People with diabetes are at a high risk of experiencing nerve damage. Hence, they should take Vitamin B-12 supplements to promote better health of the nerves. Metformin is a common anti-diabetes drug that can make a person Vitamin B-12 deficient. Thus, people with diabetes should take Vitamin B-12 supplements. Vitamin B-12 is also present in meat and fish. They are the best sources of Vitamin B-12 for non-vegetarians.
- Acetyl-L-carnitine: It is the mimic of natural chemicals already present in human bodies. It helps in producing healthy cells in the body. People with peripheral diabetic neuropathy take the Acetyl-L-carnitine supplement to reduce pain. However, this dietary supplement has some side effects like vomiting and nausea. It can also interact with blood-thinning medications. Thus, consult your doctor before taking this supplement to relieve leg pain.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): It is an antioxidant that is available as an oral supplement. It helps to eliminate diabetes-related nerve pain and prevent further nerve damage. ALA is a supplement that is naturally present in Broccoli and carrots.
Home Remedies to Treat Diabetes-Related Leg Pain or Cramps
Medications help manage diabetes and related health complications. However, they work better in conjunction with some home remedies. Diabetes patients can follow the home remedies for controlling their blood sugar levels and treating diabetes-related complications. Some home remedies for subsiding blood sugar muscle pain are effective and help you in day-to-day activities.
In addition to diabetic leg pain medicine or supplements, a lot more is there to treat diabetes-related leg pain. Medications and supplements may reduce inflammation and pain for some time. If taken for an extended period, then they may have some side effects. Therefore, home remedies are the best way to treat diabetes-related leg pain and cramps without side effects. Some of the home remedies for leg pain due to diabetes include:
- Soaking your legs in a warm bath
- Use a stationary bike to improve your blood flow
- Go for a walk
- Use a bed cradle to prevent your legs from discomfort
- Massage the calves with mustard oil and pull your toes upward
- Stretching exercises before going to bed
- Acupuncture technique
- Low-impact exercises that target and treat leg discomfort
- Eat foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium
- Wear supportive and comfortable footwear
- Drink more fluids to promote better blood flow in the legs.
Home remedies are helpful and easy to do methods to treat leg pain. You can do these remedies at any time of the day without fear of having side effects. However, you can continue taking prescription medicines while following the home remedies to treat leg pain.
Both Diabetes type-1 and type-2 cause severe health complications. Diabetic neuropathy is one of them. It is the condition of nerve damage in diabetes patients due to high blood glucose levels. It causes damage to the nerves of the legs and leads to immense unbearable pain. The frequent leg cramps and pain makes daily life difficult for diabetes patients. Exercises and medications can give some relief but diabetes management can prevent the occurrence of diabetic neuropathy and leg cramps.
Also Read: HbA1c Test Normal Ranges
Is there a need of surgical treatment for diabetes-related leg cramps?
Diabetes causes muscle twitching and frequent cramps. They are treatable with some medications and home remedies. Diabetes patients should keep their blood sugar levels in control to prevent the severity of leg pain. Well, there is no need for surgical treatment for leg pain. However, in case of diabetic foot infection, amputation is necessary.
Does varicose vein cause neuropathy?
Many people, who suffer from a varicose vein, ask “do varicose veins cause neuropathy”? Well, varicose veins are dark-colored veins that have a twisting cord-like appearance. They form when the valves inside the affected veins become weakened. Neuropathy is the result of nerve damage due to diabetes. Varicose veins do not causes the change in sensation that peripheral neuropathy does.
When should I consult with a doctor in case of leg pain?
Not all types of leg pains are related to diabetes. Therefore, you need to figure out the reason for leg pain. Consult your doctor on having persistent leg pain even after resting for some time and, your blood sugar levels are higher than the normal range. Frequent cramps and shooting leg pain are the indications of diabetic neuropathy. You need to report even the mild symptoms to your doctor to minimize the risk and diabetic neuropathy-related complications.
Is diabetic pain reversible?
There are different types of diabetic neuropathy and, most of them are irreversible. However, you can manage them with certain pills for diabetic nerve pain. You can delay the onset of neuropathy and related diabetic pain with strict diabetes control and weight management. Most diabetes patients have persistent symptoms. Sometimes, they may have disabilities related to nerve pain.
What is the cause of leg pain in diabetes patients?
Diabetes causes leg pain due to peripheral neuropathy. It is the condition that results when the nerves are damaged. When the blood sugar level increases in the body, the oxygen flow in the periphery nerves decreases. It results in the death of the tissues of the legs and causes neuropathy and pain.
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.