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Leg Cramps related to Diabetes?

Question: “I often get leg cramps at night. What could be causing this? Is this related to my diabetes?”

Answer:
Leg cramps are usually sudden contractions or tightening of the calf muscles that last a few seconds to a few minutes. Sometimes these involve the foot and thigh and frequently occur when you’re falling asleep or about to wake up.

Some causes of leg cramps are: low potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, or other mineral levels; too much exercise or muscle overuse; sitting or standing on hard surfaces (e.g., concrete) for a long time; sleeping in anawkward position; dehydration; medicines such as birth control pills, antipsychotics, diuretics, statins and steroids; flat feet; and thyroid disease.

Nerve damage or neuropathy, which can occur in diabetes, may also cause leg cramps. Uncontrolled blood sugar as well as nerve impingement from bone problems can raise the risk for nerve damage.

You can try these maneuvers to stop a leg cramp when it happens.
Walk around, or liggle your leg. Stretch your calf muscles—while sitting, straighten your leg and flex your foot upward to your knee; while standing, stand two feet from a wall and lean forward against it, keeping the knee of the cramping leg straight and the heel on the ground while bending the knee of the other leg. A hot shower or bath can also help as well
as rubbing the calf with an ice pack. To prevent leg cramps, drink plenty of water and other fluids during the day but avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine as these can lead to dehydration. Avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time. Wear supportive shoes. Eat healthy food rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Condition and stretch your muscles by riding a stationary bike or doing aquatic exercises. You can also try stretching your leg muscles for a few minutes before sleeping.

If you’re on medicines that can cause leg cramps, your doc may try changing them or prescribe muscle relaxants or nervous system medicines. Quinine is no longer recommended for leg cramps due to lack of effectiveness and may even cause harm.

If the leg cramps are severe or keep coming back, see your doc. He/she will try to determine the cause and treat it accordingly.

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Comments:1

  1. 11/10/15

    When the reason for the leg cramps is an undiagnosed diabetes, the symptoms usually are legs or arms numbness. These polyneuropathies can lead to frequent muscle cramps in early stages of diabetes.

    Regards,

    Donna

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