When people with diabetes experience pain in their legs, it can be the result of nerve damage. Nerve damage can occur if a person with diabetes does not receive treatment or can not control their blood sugar levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million people live with diabetes in the United States. Some of them do not know they have the disease, which puts them at greater risk of complications such as leg pain.
In this article, we analyze in detail the pain of diabetes in the legs, as well as how to prevent it and what are the treatment options. We also cover home remedies.
Why does diabetes cause pain in the legs?
Diabetic neuropathy is common in the arms and legs.
People living with diabetes can experience several complications, especially if their blood sugar levels are not under control. A common complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves. Diabetic neuropathy can occur in different parts of the body, but it is more common in the legs and arms.
When nerve damage occurs in these outer limbs, doctors call it diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
When the diabetic peripheral neuropathy affects the legs, it means that the nerves no longer work properly. In addition to pain, a person may feel numbness and tingling.
People who experience diabetic peripheral neuropathy have an increased risk of developing serious complications in their feet or legs, including injuries or amputations.
Once diabetic neuropathy occurs, treatment tends to focus on reducing pain and symptoms of cramping. The treatments can also help slow the progression of the condition.
The best treatment for diabetic neuropathy is prevention. People with diabetes can reduce their risk of developing diabetic peripheral neuropathy through the effective management of their blood sugar levels.
Even if they develop a diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a person should try to control their blood sugar levels as best they can.
The main focus of the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is pain management. In mild cases, a person can take over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
In moderate to severe cases, a health care provider may prescribe medications to treat pain. These medications can include duloxetine (Cymbalta) or pregabalin (Lyrica).
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe opioid medications, such as tapentadol or tramadol.
While medical treatments can help relieve pain, there are several steps a person can take at home to help alleviate or reduce the effects of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
The following are some of the best options to relieve leg pain at home.
A person with diabetic peripheral neuropathy should try to increase their physical activity.
Regular and moderate exercise has a number of health benefits, such as improving blood flow. Improved blood flow helps bring oxygen and nutrients to the legs.
People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may experience a reduction in their symptoms if they increase their level of physical activity.
However, anyone with a serious health condition, such as diabetes, should talk to their doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
Eating a balanced diet can help people with diabetes manage nerve pain. By eating the right foods to help control blood sugar levels, people can prevent the worsening of the damage and help reduce the underlying inflammation.
Concentrate on healthy options that help keep blood sugar levels constant. Beneficial foods include:
- lean proteins
- Good fats, such as olive oil, nuts or fish.
- non-starchy vegetables
- fruits, in moderation
- Complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or pasta and whole-grain breads.
People do not always get all the nutrients they need from their diet alone. In some cases, supplementing nutrient intake can help fill nutritional gaps.
Vitamins and supplements that can help with diabetic neuropathy include:
- vitamin D
- b12 vitamin
- Alpha lipoic acid
Before starting any supplement, people should talk to their doctor about their specific nutritional needs.
They may get enough nutrients from the food they eat. It is also possible that certain supplements may interact with the medications a person is taking.
Quitting, or never starting, can have a positive effect on a person's general health.
People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may find that their symptoms improve if they do not smoke. This is because smoking harms the circulation.
In addition to making changes in lifestyle, it is possible for a person to consider other possible home or non-medicinal therapies. Some other strategies that can help relieve pain include:
- trying physiotherapy
- trying acupuncture
- using a leg cradle at night
- massaging the lower part of the legs
- Soak feet in warm water (if there are no open wounds)
In addition to pain in the legs, a person may also experience symptoms such as:
- tingling in the feet or legs
- a burning sensation
- feet that get very cold or very hot
- too sensitive feet
- Loss of sensation in the lower part of the legs and feet.
- Muscle tone weakened in legs and feet.
- without pain, even when there are blisters or sores present
- Open ulcers or ulcers on the feet.
- Bone structure altered in the feet.
A person should eat a balanced diet to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
It is not always possible to prevent diabetic peripheral neuropathy. However, people can greatly reduce their risk of developing it by properly controlling their blood sugar levels.
Some steps a person can take to control their blood sugar levels are:
- eating a balanced diet
- Talking to a nutritionist about healthy meal plans
- exercise regularly
- Control of blood sugar levels throughout the day.
- take medications recommended by the doctor
- following all the steps of the treatment plan discussed with a doctor
The most important thing a person can do to prevent or reduce the impact of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is to control their blood sugar levels in the best possible way.
Good management of blood sugar can help prevent pain in the legs and reduce the risk of experiencing additional complications. People can more often control pain by taking medication and making lifestyle changes.
Anyone with diabetes who experiences leg pain, tingling or numbness for the first time should talk to a doctor as soon as possible.