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Type 2 Diabetes - Do You Experience Leg Weakness When You Walk?

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People with Type 2 diabetes can develop muscle weakness and shrinkage of their leg muscles, sometimes causing falls. New research helps to clarify why this happens.

In January 2016, the journal of the American Diabetes Society, Diabetes Care, reported on a study covering reduced strength in the legs of Type 2 diabetics. Researchers at Central Manchester University Hospital and the Metropolitan University of Manchester, UK, looked at strength and muscle mass in people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Forty of the participants, 20 with and 20 without Type 2 diabetes were included in the study. Investigators examined...

    the muscles of the diabetics used for bending and straightening the participants' knees and
    the muscles used for bringing their feet upward and downward.

It was found...

    the participants with Type 2 diabetes had lower knee straightening strength than did the healthy individuals.
    all the diabetic participants had smaller muscles in both knee straightening and knee bending muscles.
    strength for bending their feet downward was also weaker in the participants with diabetes, but muscle size was the same.

It was also found participants with low vitamin D blood levels had the same muscle size and shape as those with normal levels. Muscle strength was reduced in diabetics who had been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage.

More than half diabetics develop peripheral neuropathy, but this condition can be prevented. First, keep blood sugar levels under control. High blood sugar levels damage blood vessels that feed the entire body, including the nervous system. In diabetics, peripheral neuropathy most often strikes their feet, legs, and hands, known as the stocking-glove distribution. Physical activity involving the feet and legs especially is useful for prevention or treatment. Walking, running, riding a bicycle, dancing, or any other activity that gets your feet moving and bearing weight is ideal.

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A diabetic who finds they are unable to go for walks due to numbness or tingling in their feet is likely to have worse foot problems, such as infections. When peripheral neuropathy affects the feet, the last thing to do is to become a couch potato. Getting up and walking will help to encourage healthy circulation back into the feet. If pain becomes unbearable, sit down and rest, then start walking again when the pain becomes lowered. There are also medications, such as pentamidine (NebuPent and Pentam), that help red blood cells to become more pliant and able to get through small, damaged blood vessels.

Type 2 diabetic need an eating plan high in nutrients, low in calories in general and high in vitamins including B-1, B-6, B-12, vitamin E, and niacin (B3). These vitamins are important for nerve health.