How To Reduce Discomfort In Feet and Legs For People with Diabetes

A person rubbing their foot to ease the chronic foot pain caused by diabetic neuropathy

If you live with diabetes, the choices you make every day are likely affected by your diagnosis. Whether you’re sad to pass on the potluck funfetti cake or need to plan around insulin injections, it can be, at best, a nuisance, and at worst, a huge frustration.

One pretty glaring side effect directly linked to diabetes is pain and discomfort, particularly in your feet and all the way up your legs. It may feel nagging and insufferable at times but have no fear! We’re here to bring you some relief.

 First, we’ll review what’s going on with your body to cause you blazing pain in your legs and feet. Then, we’ll uncover ways to minimize the pain that you can easily add to your diabetes management plan. This will help you get on the right foot to soothe the numbness and pain from lower body cramps sparked by diabetes.

What Are Common Complications of Diabetes?

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by high blood sugar. There are a few different types of neuropathy, but the most common for those with diabetes targets the legs and feet. In fact, it can affect approximately 50 percent of those with a diabetes diagnosis. 

Some people go through life without even noticing they have it, while others experience more severe symptoms. Some common signs are:

  • Cramping in legs and feet
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Poor circulation
  • Sharp pain 
  • Sensitivity to even gentle touch 

Sound familiar? Aside from the objectively uncomfortable physical ailments of neuropathy, it can also be stressful to manage your blood sugar levels to avoid spikes and plunges. Even with a CGM, it’s not uncommon to feel anxious about establishing a routine that keeps your symptoms in check and lets you focus on what’s going on around you. With effective pain relief, you’re one step closer to getting to enjoy the moment without fear of cramps, flare ups, and the like.

How To Get Relief From Pain Specifically For Your Neuropathy

You shouldn’t have to worry about or suffer from pain caused by diabetic neuropathy. It’s a good idea to check in with your doctor to help provide a medically-backed plan for your pain management. In some cases, your doctor might recommend specific exams or medications to alleviate stress and get your wellness plan on track. 

There are a few at-home solutions that can help significantly reduce the discomfort in your legs and feet, too. Try one or all of these tips to make your life more comfortable:

1. Diet due diligence

Making sure you’re eating right will not only help to manage your blood sugar levels, but it can make a world of difference for reducing pain. Additionally, maintaining a well-balanced diet can also boost your energy and promote healthier sleep patterns.

2. Good old-fashioned exercise

It can be difficult to exercise when you are already uncomfortable, but integrating some activity into your daily routine can also be beneficial for naturally getting the blood moving. Even just a walk around the block might help lift some of that discomfort away!

3. Moisturize affected areas

Giving extra attention to your legs and feet while you bathe is a great way to stimulate your circulation, reduce inflammation, and also give yourself the ol’ spa treatment. You can use a favorite lotion or moisturizer or try a natural treatment like coconut oil. If you suffer from open sores or other skin ailments on your legs and feet, you’ll want to make sure you wash the area with antibacterial soap before you begin your moisturizing routine. 

4. Try a foot massage

Massages for the feet and legs are an extremely helpful way to alleviate pain and stress linked to your diabetes. It can also aid in decreasing glucose levels, which helps to regulate insulin in the body. You can book a session with a professional or try it yourself when you apply a moisturizer or oil after bathing.

Potential Benefits of an At-Home Foot Massager for Diabetes

Massages are incredibly beneficial, but realistically speaking, who has the time, money, and energy to go to a massage therapist every time a flare-up from diabetic neuropathy occurs? 

At-home foot massagers are excellent and essential tools to have on hand. Not only do they keep you from the back-and-forth of massage therapy appointments, but they carry with them a wealth of immediate, easy-to-attain benefits such as:

  • Stimulates circulation
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes relaxation and restoration 
  • Releases endorphins to improve mood
  • Moves and redistributes lymph in your body

Are Foot Massagers Safe for Diabetic Neuropathy?

If you are wondering if foot massagers are safe for diabetic neuropathy, the answer is yes. However, be sure not to overstimulate the legs and feet. Keep the massaging to no longer than 30-minute sessions. 

Also, try it before bed! A 30-minute foot massage before bed may help to reduce pain incurred from resting for a prolonged period of time.

Woman sitting on a couch massaging her calf muscle with a percussion massage gun

How To Choose The Best Foot Massager

The best foot and leg massager out there may not always be the best for people with diabetes. You have specific pain and nerve damage you’re targeting, rather than simply relaxing after a high-intensity workout or other scenarios where folks use massagers. Here are some tips to follow when selecting a massager to suit your needs.

1.) Modes and functions

Different massagers offer a wide variety of therapeutic functions to dissipate pain diabetics feel in their calves, ankles, and feet. Some functions to look for specifically beneficial to diabetic neuropathy are:

a) Heat and compression

Machines that offer a heat function can help naturally relieve tension during your massaging session. Heat can also ease away inflammation. A compression option gently hugs your feet and legs to strengthen the veins and increase their circulation. Both heat and compression together are a dream team for reducing tension and pain.

b) Rolling or kneading 

Obviously a pounding massage like the ones you receive from massage chairs at the mall or nail salon aren’t going to work for a gentle pain relief plan. Check to see how the massager will treat your feet—we recommend a rolling massage function with varying intensities so you can ease into what feels good to you.

c) Additional Movement

Some massagers have other functions that support other areas of the body to give your feet and legs a fighting chance toward maintaining a pain-free plan. For instance, our popular Cloud Massage foot massager has a swaying function that helps bring movement to the joints to loosen them up and feel relaxed.

2.) Easy to use

It shouldn’t take a PhD to operate your foot massager at home. Make sure the functionality and operation is easy to understand so you can relieve pain quickly, efficiently, and without frustration. Also, checking to see if there is a quiet function is helpful to ensure your pain management is without noisy distractions.

3.) Portability

Aside from simple usage, getting the device around the house is just as important. You might have a plan to regularly massage your feet before bed, but if pain strikes while you’re watching TV, why sacrifice your favorite show? Make sure the size and weight of your foot massager matches your lifestyle—for instance, if you live alone, you’ll definitely want to opt for a lighter massager that you can lift yourself.

If you’re looking for a portable recommendation, try the Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager Machine. It has a carrying handle with an adjustable bar, 3 intensity levels, and it’s simple to use.

How to use Cloud Massage’s Foot Massager Machine (promotional video)

Unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy affects a large percentage of people, but you shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to feel relief. Give your legs and feet the TLC they deserve with the soothing benefits of a foot massager for people with diabetes. Wishing you newfound relief and a more manageable way to get through your days!

Contributing Writer: Charlotte Seley