Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of Americans. According to the CDC, 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, that's 1 in 10 people. Above this, 1 in 5 people are undiagnosed. While diabetes can be managed and diabetes symptoms can be minimized, it does have the potential to present some complications, particularly in relation to vein health. When venous disorders occur, they can cause some uncomfortable effects, including inflammation, swelling, and pain in the legs, or lead to ulcers or blood clots.
In this blog, we'll outline some of the most common diabetes signs and symptoms, look at the connection between diabetes and venous disorders, and give our best suggestions for preventing and successfully managing venous issues. (Hint: it's compression socks!)
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body can’t properly process or use glucose (sugar) for energy. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body, and when it can’t be used effectively, it can lead to a build-up of sugar in the blood. Over time, this can cause a range of health challenges - this is where diabetes symptoms in feet and legs arise, among other places. However, these diabetes symptoms can be managed if diagnosed and treated proactively.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is much more common - around 90-95% of all cases fall into this category. With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it does produce. This form of diabetes is often linked to lifestyle choices like being overweight or obese, and not getting enough exercise.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow healing wounds or sores
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
All of these diabetes symptoms can be managed and diabetes can be controlled with the help of a medical professional. It’s important to pay attention to your body and any changes that occur so you can pick up diabetes warning signs early and ensure you get the treatment and diabetes relief you need to maintain a high quality of life. Gone are the days when a diagnosis of diabetes meant a life sentence - with proper management, people with diabetes can live long, happy, fulfilled, and healthy lives.
What Are Venous Disorders?
Venous disorders refer to any condition that affects the veins in your body, particularly the legs. Veins are the blood vessels that carry blood from other parts of the body back to the heart. They have one-way valves that open and close to ensure that the blood flows in the right direction. When these valves don’t work properly, they can cause a condition known as venous insufficiency. When the valves don’t close correctly, blood can flow backwards and pool in the veins (this is known as venous reflux). You may experience a number of symptoms, including:
- Aching or pain in the legs
- Leg swelling
- Cramping or restless legs
- Varicose veins
- Skin changes, such as ulcers
Rather than being one specific condition, venous disorders are a group of conditions that affect the veins in your body. They include venous insufficiency, venous reflux, deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins in legs and feet. While venous disorders can occur in anyone, they’re more common in people who have diabetes - we'll explain why in the next section. The important thing to remember is that there are many ways you can live with venous disorders and still enjoy your life with new and innovative venous insufficiency treatment and varicose veins treatment options becoming available all the time.
Diabetes and Venous Disorders: The Connection
Venous disorders are relatively common among people with diabetes, and it is noted that the majority of studies have demonstrated an increased risk of thromboembolism (blood clot in the vein) among diabetic patients. There are a few key ways in which diabetes can lead to venous disorders.
Diabetes can damage the walls of the veins and arteries.
When diabetes isn’t controlled, it can cause damage to the walls of your blood vessels. Over time, this damage makes it harder for your veins and arteries to pump blood properly, which can lead to a condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a form of arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When this happens, it’s more difficult for blood to flow from your extremities (such as your legs) back to your heart. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include leg pain when walking, ulcers or sores on the legs that don’t heal correctly.
High blood sugar levels can damage the valves in the veins.
PAD can cause a build-up of pressure in the veins of your legs, which can eventually lead to venous insufficiency in legs. Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the valves in your veins don’t work properly. This can cause blood to flow backwards and pool in your veins, leading to a number of symptoms, including leg pain, swelling (also known as edema), and leg cramping.
Diabetes can cause nerve damage.
Diabetes can also cause nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can cause damage to the nerves. When your nerves are damaged, they can become unable to effectively send messages to the brain about things like pain, pressure, and temperature. This can lead to diabetic foot ulcers, which are sores or wounds on the feet that don’t heal properly. If you've ever experienced foot ulcers, you're certainly not alone! Between 9 and 26 million incidences of foot ulcers are reported annually worldwide and 15 to 25% of patients with diabetes develop a diabetic foot ulcer.
How to Manage Venous Disorder Symptoms
While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent venous disorders, there are definitely some things that you can do to lower your risk of developing one. If you already have a venous disorder, there are ways to minimize the symptoms and give you a good quality of life.
If you have diabetes, the most important thing you can do is keep your blood sugar levels under control. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking your medication as prescribed can help to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
If you’re at risk of developing a venous disorder, or you already have one, there are some things you can do to help manage your symptoms. See a healthcare professional (a vein specialist is called a phlebologist or vascular surgeon) regularly to check for any changes in your veins. This is especially important if you have diabetes.
If you have venous disorder symptoms, such as leg pain, swelling, or cramping in your legs, compression socks might just be the answer you've been searching for! Many people with diabetes wear compression socks to help manage their symptoms with outstanding results.
Compression socks work by applying gentle pressure to your legs, which has been proven to promote blood flow and improve circulation in people who are at an increased risk of blood clots or other venous disorders. Improved circulation works to stop blood from pooling in the legs, reducing swelling and minimizing pain and cramping.
Far from a hit-or-miss solution, compression socks have consistently been shown to be an effective way to manage venous disorder symptoms in a wide variety of conditions. Studies have shown that the use of compression socks for diabetes related venous disorders are proven, such as this clinical trial which demonstrated that prevention of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) was possible using compression socks.
Another study showed that the use of compression socks increased ulcer healing rates, which is extremely important for people with diabetes who are at a higher risk of developing foot ulcers. This means that not only can compression socks help to relieve venous disorder symptoms, but they may also help to prevent more serious conditions from developing too.
There are myriad uses for compression socks beyond managing diabetes-related venous disorders. Compression socks are commonly used by pregnant women to help manage swelling in the legs, and are also recommended for people who sit or stand for long periods of time, such as nurses, office workers, truck drivers, and airline personnel.
Whether you’re looking for a way to prevent venous disorders or you’re already experiencing pain-related diabetes symptoms and want to use compression socks in a holistic diabetes relief plan, compression socks present a way for you to manage your symptoms effectively and improve your quality of life.
At Pear Compression, we've reimagined traditional compression socks to provide a premium quality, Italian-made range of diabetic compression socks that offer style, comfort, and powerful therapeutic benefits all in one. When you have a venous disorder, or if you're struggling with leg ulcers, compression socks that are easy to put on are essential. Our range comes in various compression sock levels so you can choose the level of compression that's right for you. Our sizes start from small to plus size so you're bound to find a Pear that fits you perfectly, and our signature designs are sure to go with any outfit so you can wear your Pear all day long (with approval from your healthcare professional, of course)! Lovingly made with hypoallergenic, natural materials, Pear's diabetes compression socks are also gentle on the skin and won't aggravate any existing conditions, making them the best compression socks for diabetes-related venous disorders on the market.
While we do make every effort to produce accurate and up-to-date content, the information in this blog article is provided for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.