Living with diabetic myopathy can be challenging, but you’re not alone. Learn all about it and discover practical strategies for coping and thriving.

Diabetic Myopathy: Manage Muscle Weakness and Fatigue

Muscle weakness, pain, and tingling sensations can all be symptoms of diabetic myopathy. If you or someone you know is dealing with these issues, it's important to understand exactly what's happening and seek appropriate treatment. Let’s unpack the science behind diabetic myopathy and practical management tips. Once you’ve overcome the fatigue, you’ll be ready to reach new mental and physical limits!

What is Diabetic Myopathy? | Diabetic Myopathy Symptoms | Diabetic Myopathy Treatments | The Final Verdict | Frequently Asked Questions | Related Articles

What is Diabetic Myopathy?

Diabetic myopathy is a condition in which the skeletal muscles become weak, inflamed, or stiff due to the effects of diabetes. The condition is caused by nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) which leads to problems with muscle function. *Nerve damage affects approximately 50% of people with diabetes according to the American Diabetes Association. It typically occurs in people who have poorly managed diabetes for a long period of time and have notable insulin resistance. Ultimately, insulin plays a key role in the growth of muscle tissue/cells. And since the major complication of diabetes is producing or using insulin, the muscles are likely to weaken over time.

What is Diabetic Myopathy?

In order to diagnose diabetic myopathy, your healthcare provider will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms. From there, you’ll probably have to do a physical exam to assess your muscle strength, reflexes, balance, and sensation. This will give your doctor a clear idea of whether they need to do further testing such as MRIs, blood tests, genetic tests or a muscle biopsy. If the muscle impairment coincides with the development of diabetes symptoms, it’s very likely to be diabetic myopathy.

Diabetic Myopathy Symptoms

The symptoms of diabetic myopathy can vary from person to person, but some of the most common ones include muscle weakness, cramps, and spasms. Overall, these symptoms can be challenging to manage and come with their own risk factors. Nevertheless, with proper diabetes care, many people with diabetic muscle weakness and fatigue are able to find relief.

Here are some common symptoms of diabetic myopathy:

  • ​Muscle weakness
  • Cramps and spasms
  • Loss of muscle mass (muscle atrophy/sarcopenia)
  • Difficulty standing
  • Reduced mobility
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the limbs
  • Muscle pain or tenderness
  • High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
  • Obesity

Diabetic Myopathy Treatments

Now that we have a clear understanding of diabetic myopathy, we can discuss the best treatment options for getting back on track. While managing blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication is the first line of defense against diabetic myopathy, there are also several treatment options available for those who have developed this condition. Some treatments focus on reducing symptoms, such as pain or muscle stiffness, while others aim to improve muscle strength and function.

Here are some common treatments for muscle weakness and fatigue:

1. Bodyweight training

Controlling blood sugar levels is the primary goal in managing diabetic myopathy. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and taking medication as prescribed can help to prevent or reduce muscle damage caused by high blood sugar. These activities are known to promote glucose uptake in the targeted muscle and fat tissue.

2. Physical therapy

A physical therapist can help design a personalized exercise program to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. Physical therapy can also help reduce muscle stiffness and pain associated with diabetic myopathy.

3. Sufficient sleep

Getting enough sleep can be beneficial for individuals with diabetic myopathy because it allows the body’s natural biochemical processes to kick into gear. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones, which are necessary for repairing and rebuilding human skeletal muscles. Additionally, poor sleep quality is associated with increased inflammation, which can exacerbate muscle damage in individuals with diabetic myopathy.

4. Regular exercise

Physical activity, such as strength training or aerobic activities, can help improve muscle strength and mobility. Exercise also helps maintain glucose homeostasis (balance) and improves overall cardiovascular health. You should be resistance training for a minimum of 150 minutes per week and also making time for an extra 70 mins per week (or more) of cardio and body movement. Following these tips can help you move from diabetic to Diabetic Athletic in no time!

5. Massage therapy

Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and improve blood flow, which can improve muscle function and reduce pain. Massage works by manipulating the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, to improve blood flow and promote relaxation.

6. Pain relievers

Pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help alleviate muscle pain and dysfunction in diabetic patients. Pain relievers work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are the chemicals that cause pain, inflammation, and fever in the body.

7. Anti-inflammatory drugs

Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the muscles. Inflammation can contribute to muscle damage and pain, so reducing inflammation can improve mobility and reduce discomfort.

8. Muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants can help reduce muscle spasms and improve muscle function in individuals with diabetic myopathy. Muscle relaxants work by targeting the nervous system, specifically the neurotransmitters that control muscle contractions. They can help reduce the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improve muscle function in individuals with diabetic myopathy. Some commonly used muscle relaxants for diabetic myopathy include baclofen, diazepam, and tizanidine.

9. Surgery

In severe cases of diabetic myopathy, surgery may be necessary to correct muscle damage or restore mobility. Surgery may involve repairing or replacing damaged muscle fibers or tendons, or correcting joint deformities.

The Final Verdict: Can Diabetes Cause Muscle Weakness?

Diabetes certainly can cause muscle weakness which can lead to severe diabetic myopathy. The prevalence of this symptom is undeniable for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. But there are various treatment options available to help improve muscle function and reduce discomfort. Speak with your healthcare provider to discover the best course of action for managing your condition. Remember, controlling your diabetes is the key to preventing myopathy complications while living a healthy, active life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does diabetes cause muscle weakness?

Diabetes can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, and loss of muscle mass (muscular atrophy). In addition, you may have impaired mobility. This is because the condition results in nerve damage and decreased blood flow to the muscles.

Is muscle weakness a sign of diabetes?

Muscle weakness is not a clear sign of diabetes mellitus, however, it is one of the symptoms. The more common signs of diabetes include frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger, fatigue and blurred vision.

Is myopathy curable?

There is no specific cure for myopathy, regardless of whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes mellitus. But you can overcome it through treatments such as physical therapy or medication. The symptoms should improve once you effectively manage the underlying condition.

Is myopathy a disability?

Myopathy can be considered a disability if it significantly impacts an individual's ability to perform daily activities or work-related tasks. The specific criteria for determining disability can vary by country and region, but typically involves an evaluation of the individual's functional limitations and ability to perform essential tasks.

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