Diabetes And Leg Swelling: The Terrible Twosome

If you are diabetic, you need to worry about a lot more things like heart diseases and leg swelling. This causes peripheral edema in some cases and can be painful. If you see symptoms of swelling in your ankles, lower legs or feet, it is time to pay your physician an emergency visit.

Diabetes expand blood circulation in an inappropriate way, which can cause swelling in the lower leg region. However, there could be other reasons as well that would cause the swelling. So a visit to the doctor is a must. Diabetes is a serious disease which gives rise to many further complications; swelling in the legs is one of them. Let’s discuss a few reasons that could be contributing to the swelling and its cure.

What can lead to leg swelling?

For any diabetic patient, it is a must to consult a doctor in case you notice any changes in the body. A patient who’s been living with diabetes for several years needs to be extra careful because this disease comes with so many attached risks.

If you are diabetic and have noticed some leg swelling recently, the following could be a few reasons for it.

  1. The main reason for leg swelling in diabetes is peripheral edema. Fluids collect in the feet, ankles and leg and this condition can become quite severe if left untreated. A consultation with a doctor is a must.
  2. Sometimes, a diabetic may suffer from diabetic neuropathy. This is a condition that leads to numbness in legs and feet. As a result, the diabetic may not be able to feel an injury, maybe something even as severe as a sprain or a fracture and continue to use the limb. But the swelling caused by the injury is what will raise concern, which is why a consultation with the doctor becomes very important.
  3. Diabetics have low immunity towards infections and your swelling could very well be a sign of an infection in the leg. Further signs that you may have an infection can be mild fever and redness along with the swelling.
  4. Sometimes a high blood pressure can also result in leg swelling as fluids begin to build up within the tissues of the body. These are symptoms of a congestive heart failure and if you also feel like you have trouble breathing and are fatigued, you should rush to the nearest hospital.
  5. While most of us know about Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2, very few people are aware of the risks of gestational diabetes. This is a unique kind of diabetes that only affects pregnant women and usually disappears once the woman gives birth to the baby. Swelling in the legs is often associated with gestational diabetes, though the pregnancy itself can contribute largely to the collected fluids in the legs, causing a swelling.
  6. If you have Diabetes Type 2 and have been prescribed Thiazolidinediones, they can be the reason for your leg swelling. Talk to your physician if your leg swelling is severe and maybe he can change your prescription to give you relief from the swellings.

10 ways to reduce leg swelling

So now that you know what is causing your leg to swell, it is time to find out how to get rid of the swelling. The fact is that, for most diabetics leg swellings become a part of life. They come and go, and some lifestyle changes and exercises can bring a lot of relief. Though your doctor may give you a prescription to reduce swelling, it is best to adopt more holistic methods as medicines may have certain side effects. And as a diabetic, you are already ingesting enough medicines to take care of normal insulin functioning of your body and should refrain from taking any more.

Self-help measures to reduce leg swelling in diabetics:

  1. Twice a day, lie down with pillows under your legs to bring them above your heart levels.
  2. Make sure you get regular exercise to reduce risks of fluid build-up in legs.
  3. Wear compression stockings if you are prone to leg swellings.
  4. Eating a low-sodium diet will help symptoms of leg swellings.
  5. For diabetic women, wearing low-heeled or flat shoes is the best way to avoid leg swelling.
  6. Don’t stand in one spot for too long. Take breaks to sit down. If your job requires you to stand for long hours, keep one leg bent at the knee and then repeat the same with the other leg to keep them moving.
  7. Get regular leg massages to improve blood circulation in the entire leg. Start with the lower legs and move downwards to the toes. This will redistribute any accumulated fluids throughout the leg.
  8. Wear well-fitted shoes that are never tight, even when your feet feel slightly swollen. If you must, buy shoes one size bigger. It is better to buy shoes with ties to be adjusted as per foot condition.
  9. Never sit cross-legged because it stops circulation of blood to the lower leg.
  10. If you smoke, consider quitting because a diabetic who smokes is at increased risk of leg swelling.

With the above mentioned self-help tips, you can deal with leg swellings easily and get relief easily. However, we’d like to stress once more that at the slightest hint of leg swelling, visit a doctor because, as a diabetic, it always helps to be safe rather than sorry.


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12 Responses

  1. Lisa Usuriello says:

    my feet and ankles are swollen. I am type 2. what should i do? I am scared

    • Sabuj Biswas says:

      Hello Lisa,

      Foot problems in Diabetics can be treated by keeping blood sugar levels low. This can be done by medications, surgery and other treatments.
      If your feet are swollen, waste no more time and go visit your doctor, so that serious complications don’t develop. Even if problems are minor, they need to be evaluated by a certified health expert. Due to reduced sensitivity in the feet, these problems are known to occur. If not properly diagnosed and corrected, it can lead to more serious problems.

      If it is a case of foot ulcer, it will not heal until you stop putting weight on that area. If you have an uninfected foot ulcer, the doctor may give a cast on your leg to help healing. It is very important that you put the weight off your injured foot. Be cautious when at home and stay off the foot. Support your feet with foot care products like cushioned shoes, crutches and other supports or wheelchair in extreme cases.

      However, before reaching to any judgement (as you don’t know about the seriousness of the situation, which is to all probability, minor), please visit your doctor immediately.

      Keep us posted!

  2. Ahana says:

    Hi, I have PCOD with hair growth and obesity. I usually exercise and eat home cooked healthy food, with lots of green vegetables, proteins, fish and lots of water. I drink coconut water everyday too. But nothing seems to help me lose weight. Should I get surgery done? Is it advisable? Many doctors have asked me to get Bariatric Surgery done. I am scared of the complications, as I also have Gastric problems from my family genes. I really am confused and fed up. Am 25, not married and I want to get rid of this weight and PCOD issues. I don’t get my menstrual cycles for 2-3 months, and whenever I do its very painful. None of the doctor’s here in India seem to help me really. I exercise quiet a bit and have an active life. I have gained a lot of weight around my stomach and chest. Please help me.

    • Sabuj Biswas says:

      Hello Ahana,

      It would be appropriate to consult your Gynaec in this case. My Suggestion would be to get a PCOD treatment by medication/surgert first and then get your hormone profiling done. It is treatable at this stage. If the weight gain still persists, then opt for Bariatric surgery.


  3. Diabetes swollen legs effected a member of my family in India and it was treated in time to stop the damage to the nerves. I would highly suggest that if you have diabetes swollen legs to take it extremely serious. There are many people in India who are losing the lower limb to the illness.
    Thank you, Raj S

  4. Raj S says:

    This is a growing problem for us in the Uk, we have seen an increase in lower limb circulatory problems due to excessive glucose. United Kingdom
    P.M. David Cameron has stated that diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in the UK, it is a National emergency according to the NHS

  5. saleem says:

    My mother have diebitic type 2, her feets swelen, obtain treatment through phycian, seems no improvement from two weeks as her blood shugar rating normalized but systolick blood pressure and heart pulse ratings are abnormal every time. Kindly note i also trying to help her for home self care tools like use of pillow massage etc… Kindly advice me what i can do more for her;-(

    • Ankita Malik says:

      Hello Saleem,

      In case of edema, we would suggest you to consult your doctor and look if he can advise your mother for wearing compression stockings and special diabetes footwear.


  6. Antonio says:

    Hello! I have a major question to ask! I pray that you can help me!…My fiánce is a type 2 diabetic. She is 33yrs old and has been diagnosed since she was 18. The problem is that she has no health insurance at all!!! I am worried about her because her legs, feet, & ankles swell a lot!! She often complain of not being able to see as good as she used to!!
    I use to question that until the other day while she was driving me to work & traffic came to a stop, I literally had to scream at her to stop because we were still running at 50MPH with stand still traffic in front of us!!!!
    I wish there was a way that she could get Medicaid or some type of affordable medical insurance.
    Her diabetes is ALWAYS up and down!! Feet & ankles swell often, and this eyesight problem gets worse by the week!!!! I don’t know what to do!!! I take her to the hospital, but now its getting to the point where we can’t afford to pay it! We both work, but our jobs don’t offer insurance…What methods should I take?? Please help me!! Thanks in advance

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