The muscles are affected in different ways by diabetes. Muscle pain in diabetics is usually a sign of slow down in blood circulation. Risk of poor blood circulation in the muscles is higher in diabetics with atherosclerosis. Reduced blood supply to the muscles causes muscle cramps, especially in the legs, which makes movements painful.
Severe muscle pain is a common symptom of diabetic muscle infarction, which occurs when blood flow to the affected muscle ceases. Nerve damage can also trigger muscle pain. The goal of diabetic muscle pain treatment is strengthening the muscles, improving blood flow to the muscles and preventing further muscle damage by maintaining the normal blood sugar level through appropriate diet and medications.
Options for Treating Diabetic Muscle Pain
Exercise is the best treatment for diabetic muscle pain. Strengthening and stretching exercises are most suitable for the muscles. They improve muscle flexibility, increase muscle strength and boost blood circulation in the muscles. Workouts stimulate the muscles to increase glucose uptake that naturally reduces the blood sugar level.
As elevated stress aggravates pain, exercises can be used as a natural remedy for both stress and pain. Depending upon the condition of your health and activity level, moderate intensity aerobic activity is beneficial for the muscles. Water aerobics is best suited for diabetics with muscle pain.
Body massage eases blood circulation in the muscles. It helps to release pressure from the muscles, thereby improving muscle flexibility. Massage also acts as a natural stress buster. Body massage combined with exercises can alleviate muscle pain without drugs.
Pain Relief Medications
Anti-inflammatory pain relief medications are the most popular option for treating acute diabetic muscle pain. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin and naproxen are commonly used for treating muscle pain. Localized muscle pain can also be effectively treated with topical NSAIDs. Applying capsaicin ointment to the painful muscle alleviates pain by numbing the nerve that transmits the pain signals to the brain.
Muscle pain triggered by the sensitive nerves is sometimes treated with anti-seizure medications such as pregabalin and gabapentin. Antidepressants are sometimes recommended for treating chronic diabetic muscle pain. Severe muscle pain that do not respond to conventional medications can be reduced only with opiates. These narcotic pain relief drugs work by numbing all the senses. Long-term use increases risk of addiction to opiates.
Ingesting herbal supplements or applying topical herbal preparations with anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties can reduce diabetic muscle pain. Some of the widely used herbs for treating pain include turmeric, ginger and Echinacea. Applying the essential oils of clove, peppermint, ginger, lavender and rosemary to the painful muscles can reduce the sensation of pain.
The sensation of chronic pain can be reduced with the help of mental therapies. Meditation and deep breathing exercises can distract the mind from the source of the pain. They help to calm the mind. Tai chi and yoga poses are beneficial for the mind as well as for the body. Cognitive therapies and self-hypnosis are effective drug-free options for treating chronic muscle pain.