Waking up in the middle of the night because of a painful muscle cramp in the calf or leg is not fun. Although the precise cause of muscle cramps is still not determined, they are usually linked to muscle fatigue and poor flexibility.
However, research suggests another reason for leg cramps – diabetes.
The symptoms are always the same, with or without the disease. They involve sudden, painful, and involuntary tightening of a muscle. Also, they usually happen in the evenings and affect the muscles located at:
- The back of the lower leg (calf muscles);
- Back of the thigh (hamstrings);
- Front of the thigh (quadriceps);
- Feet, hands, neck, arms, and abdomen.
What Causes Muscle Cramps
Leg cramps occur suddenly and without warning. However, knowing what can cause them can help us prevent and treat them. Here are the most common causes of muscle cramps, as well as tips to avoid them.
Not drinking enough water can disrupt our body’s electrolyte balance, which in turn can cause muscle cramps. So, if we are prone to this uncomfortable and painful condition, we should make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Inadequate Blood Supply
The arteries that supply blood to our legs can narrow during exercise, resulting in cramp-like pain in our feet and legs. However, cramps usually stop once we finish exercising.
Lack of Minerals
Lack of magnesium, calcium, and potassium can also cause leg cramps. We need to boost our levels of the previously mentioned minerals by eating foods that contain high amounts of them. Also, we can take mineral supplements after consulting with our doctor.
Diuretics prescribed for hypertension can deplete magnesium, calcium, and potassium in our bodies. And, deficiency in these minerals can cause muscle cramps.
Lumbar stenosis or compressed nerve in the spine can cause painful muscle cramps in our legs. To relieve the symptoms, walk in a slightly flexed position (like when pushing a shopping cart).
Muscle cramps are one of the many complications related to this condition. Here are three ways in which this lifelong disease can lead to muscle cramps:
1. Poor Blood Sugar Control
Our muscles need glucose in order to contract and relax. But, if we have too high or low blood glucose levels, our body won’t be able to regulate the activities properly. That’s just one way this disease can trigger muscle cramps.
To avoid it, we should have healthier nutrition, regular physical activity, and stress management.
2. Diabetic Neuropathy
This is a condition that happens when our constant high blood glucose damages our nerves.
The most common type that causes leg cramps is peripheral neuropathy. If not treated properly and on time, it can lead to serious leg and foot conditions, including amputation.
Consult a doctor about the right treatment of the condition.
3. Diabetic Nephropathy
It develops when uncontrolled blood glucose levels damage the kidneys. The condition can sometimes cause muscle cramps. Consult a doctor about ways to treat the condition.
Treat and Prevent Leg Cramps at Home
Besides taking the right medications and supplements, we can also treat muscle cramps related to poor blood sugar control with physical therapy, acupuncture, using a stationary bike, going for short walks regularly, stretching before going to bed, massages.