Leg Cramps and Common Problems in Diabetics

by Sharon Hopkins

Leg Cramps and Diabetes

If you’re wondering whether leg cramps and diabetes are related, the answer is ‘yes’. Diabetes manifests when there is increased blood glucose or sugar in the system. This leads to an increased urine output, which, in turn, leads to the considerable loss of electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Lower levels of potassium and sometimes calcium more often than not lead to leg cramps.

Another cause of leg cramps in diabetics is diabetic neuropathy. The peripheral nerves of diabetics are often damaged over a period of time; this makes the fiber in the nerves vulnerable to irritability, resulting leg cramps. Damaged arteries in the lower limbs could also be one of the causes. Sometimes, it could be a combination of all these conditions that leads to the increased prevalence of muscle cramps in diabetics. It should be noted that in patients who have had diabetes for a long time the pain may not be present as the fibers in the nerve cells may already be destroyed.

Diabetes Leg Cramps at Night

You may often hear diabetic patients complaining that the pain from the leg cramps at night is so severe that it wakes them up from their sleep. Such kind of cramps, which are called nocturnal cramps, can cause terrible sleep deprivation for the patient.

Reasons for Leg Cramps

As mentioned above, there are several reasons for leg cramps in a diabetic patient. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Lack of sufficient potassium in the system
  • Diabetes related artery disease
  • Electrolyte reduction due to excess urine output
  • Diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage in the lower limbs
  • Low calcium levels
Prevention for Diabetic Leg Cramps

There are some ways in which you can try to ease diabetic leg cramps. Here’s how.

  • A simple blood test will help you find out if you lack potassium or calcium. Including foods that have high potassium content like bananas, apricots, figs, sweet potatoes, tomato, spinach and cantaloupe will help. If the deficiency is severe, the doctor may recommend potassium supplements. If you lack calcium, calcium supplements will help you out. Visiting your doctor on a regular basis to check your blood electrolyte level will also help.
  • Your doctor should be able to help you with a suitable course of treatment if the cause of your leg cramp is diabetic neuropathy or other diabetes-related condition.

If the pain is chronic and is giving you a lot of trouble, make sure you visit your doctor.

References:
  1. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/neuropathies/
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesFootHealth/
  3. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR20/nutrlist/sr20w306.pdf

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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