Preventing and treating leg cramps with diabetes

For many diabetics, muscle pain is just a normal part of life.

Prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels can cause what's called diabetic neuropathy, which may result in pain, tingling, cramps or spasms in the arms, feet, legs or fingers.

Treating leg cramps tends to involve treating the neuropathy while also addressing other factors that may be causing the cramps.

Causes

While there are several different types of neuropathies, peripheral neuropathy is what often causes leg cramps in diabetics.

Potassium imbalance, which can be caused by fluctuating insulin levels and frequent urination in diabetes, can also contribute to leg cramping.

Diabetics who are taking diuretics may also experience more leg cramps, as these types of drugs have been associated with muscle spasms and pain.

Prevention

The best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy is to manage your diabetes well and keep your blood sugar stable.

If the cramps are caused by potassium imbalances, you should talk to your doctor about changing your diet to address this issue.

Exercise is also important, especially stretching, while adequate hydration after long periods of physical activity will ensure your water and electrolyte balances stay stable.

Treatment

Treatment for diabetic leg cramps will usually involve bringing your blood glucose levels into a normal range to prevent further nerve damage. Your doctor may recommend certain medicines or insulin therapies to help control your blood sugar.

Treating the pain that comes with diabetic neuropathy could involve oral medication.

Regular massage might also help relax the muscles in your legs, which will keep them from cramping.

Source: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse

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