What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, while it comes in many different types, is a condition in which the blood has high levels of sugar, or glucose, in it. Blood sugar becomes high when the hormone insulin is not properly produced or used by the body. Over 20 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with this condition and it is believed that nearly 40 million have what is considered prediabetes.
Why Do Cramps Occur with Diabetes?
Diabetes can affect all areas of the body, including the muscles. If diabetes is not being treated properly, or at all, the cells are unable to absorb the blood sugar needed to produce energy. This causes the sugar to build up in the bloodstream. This can result in nerve cell damage and muscle cell electrolyte imbalances.
These can result in muscle cramping. Cramping can be indirectly caused by extreme blood sugar increases.
Too Much Sugar In Blood Causes Muscle Cell Electrolyte And Imbalances
Resulting Muscle Cramping.
If electrolytes are not properly being exchanged across cell membranes, muscles will not relax and contract properly. Electrolyte levels plummet when the body starts to live off of its muscle tissue. This is similar to what we see in malnourished people. Their muscles waste away. When these low electrolyte levels occur, muscles can contract and then be unable to relax. Muscle cramping is the result.
Diabetes – Related Nerve Damage Can Also Result In Muscle Spasming In the Feet
The majority of the cells in the body are only able to absorb sugar if insulin is also present. Nerve cells are one of the exceptions in that they do not require insulin.
So when blood sugar is elevated, the cells will take some of the entering sugar and use it for energy. The rest is turned into sorbitol, a type of sugary substance. This substance, however, is unable to cross the membrane. The cells become damaged as this accumulates in them. The damage can cause a variety of issues, such as cramping, numbness and tingling.
Leg cramping can actually be dangerous.
Think about driving a car and then a leg cramp strikes
Leg cramping can actually be dangerous when driving. This could cause a let go of the brakes or a slamming of the gas pedal. Because of this, it is critical to get leg cramps under control as quickly as possible.
What Most Common Places for Leg Cramps with Diabetes?
Cramps are common in the arms, torso and legs. The legs are often affected and they are also often affected my neuropathy, which can be a double whammy of sorts.
Using a Leg Massager for Diabetes-Related Cramps
A very effective, fast and relaxing way to help calm leg cramps is to use a leg massager. An air leg massager is one of the best options because it requires little effort on your part. These resemble blood pressure cuffs, or the leg cuffs you may have had put on when you were in the hospital on bed rest. You simply wrap them around your calf or thigh, set them and let them go to work. They provide a pressure massage. This not only helps in alleviating cramping in the legs, but it is also very effective in increasing blood circulation.
The air chambers in the device will inflate and deflate. This is what provides the massage. Key pressure points are targeted ensuring the most effective relief. As an added bonus, these are often effective in warming up cold limbs, improving varicose veins and toning and slimming the legs. Toned muscles tend to cramp less.
Other Diabetes-Related Cramp Remedies
The primary way to treat these is to get the muscles relaxed. An air leg massager is very effective in this. However, you can also add traditional massage, stretching and heat to increase the alleviation of the cramping. It is also important to get the underlying cause under control. In the case of diabetes, blood sugar that is not well-controlled is the issue. Your doctor can talk to you about lifestyle changes and medications that can help to keep your blood sugar where it should be.
There are also exercises that can be done to help keep the muscles as loose as possible. A doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor can prescribe the best exercises for you to do for leg cramping. It is also important to get the right nutrients in your diet, especially calcium magnesium and potassium.