For many aging people, pain, cramping or tiredness in legs while walking or climbing stairs may not sound as symptoms of a serious medical condition. In fact, the majority of people believe that they are normal signs of aging. Nevertheless, they can be symptoms of a form of nerve or blood vessel damage known as diabetic neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease respectively. This article will give you an in-depth analysis of diabetes and leg pain.
Diabetes and Leg Pain
If diabetes causes damage to the nerves in your legs and arms, the condition will be referred to as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy results from long-term hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include pain, numbness and tingling. On the other hand, if diabetes damages blood vessels in your legs, the condition will be referred to as peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Peripheral arterial disease can lead to amputation and gangrene if left untreated for long.
Taking control of diabetes and leg pain will not only help in improving the quality of your life but also in preventing serious injuries. Some of the ways of managing diabetes and leg pain are discussed below.
1. Use of Dietary Supplements
A healthy diet is key in diabetes and leg pain relief. Leg discomfort associated with diabetes can be eased with certain dietary supplements. Nutrients in these supplements not only help in repairing damaged nerve tissues but also in preventing future nerve damage. Some of the supplements under investigation for diabetic neuropathy treatment include vitamin D, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), vitamin B12 and acetyl-L-carnitine.
Alpha-lipoic acid has been widely used in home remedies for diabetes. Besides being available as an oral supplement, it is also commonly found in foods like carrots and broccoli. ALA helps in preventing further nerve damage and alleviating pain in diabetic patients. On the other hand, vitamin B12 is present in fish and meats. Apart from promoting healthy nerve function, vitamin B12 also helps in supporting the production of red blood cells. Acetyl-L-carnitine helps in producing healthy nerve cells. However, it comes with side effects such as vomiting and ability to interact with blood-thinning medications. Lastly, vitamin D supports healthy nerve functioning and decreases painful swelling.
2. Use of Medication
Over the counter medicines, for instance, ibuprofen and acetaminophen are helpful in alleviating mild to moderate leg pain. Excessive cramps and pain warrants the use of prescription medicines like antidepressants (such as duloxetine), opioids and anticonvulsants.
3. Home Remedies
While the use of supplements and medication reduces pain and inflammation, they take time to work. In addition, certain medications for instance opioids might pose serious side effects if taken for long periods of time. Physical therapy teaches you exercises that target and alleviate leg pain. Other potential methods of treatment include light therapy, electric nerve stimulation and acupuncture.
Home remedies, for instance, the use of a stationary bike to increase the flow of blood, going for short/frequent walks, use of a bed cradle at night to prevent leg discomfort and soaking your legs in warm water can help in alleviating diabetes and leg pain.
It is important to immediately address any type of leg pain with your physician, even if the symptoms cause little to no interference to your daily activities. Pain and cramps might indicate serious diabetic neuropathy or peripheral arterial disease. Diabetes predisposes you to peripheral arterial disease, a condition that increases your risk for stroke and heart attack. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one in three diabetic adults above the age of 50 have peripheral arterial disease. Therefore, you should call your doctor to report any unusual symptoms associated with diabetes and leg pain.
Source from: healthline
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