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Are there links between diabetes and joint pain?

If you have diabetes you are at risk for a variety of complications. Could your chronic joint pain or arthritis be one of those complications? At first glance, these are seemingly unrelated issues. However, there are some links. If you have diabetes and/or suffer from chronic joint pain, you need to understand those connections for better health. Read on to learn more about the connections between diabetes and joint pain.


The connections between diabetes and joint pain 

As diabetes advances, it can cause bodily changes that lead to joint pain and stiffness: 

  • swelling 
  • nodules under the skin, particularly in the fingers 
  • tight, thickened skin; trigger finger 
  • numb feet 

After having had diabetes for several years, joint damage is common. Here are three joint problems that often affect people with diabetes. 

  1. Neuropathic Arthropathy aka Numb Feet 

    1. Neuropathy describes nerve damage, a common problem in diabetics with the farther points of the body such as the feet and hands. 
    2. Arthropathy describes problems with joints.
      Neuropathic arthropathy is a condition that can happen to people who have had diabetes for ten or more years. It is most common in the feet which become numb and no longer recognize the forces and weight put across them. People walking on numb feet are more likely to twist and injure themselves. Repeated trauma to the joints in the feet can cause them to wear down. This issue is also called Charcot's joint.
  2. Osteoarhtrisits 

    Osteoarthritis happens when the cushioning between joints deteriorates causing the bones to rub against each other. Many adults experience some form of osteoarthritis as they age. Hips and knees are the most common trouble areas. Many studies are starting to show strong links ThinkstockPhotos-75627262between diabetes and osteoarthritis - the most common form of arthritis. While the debate is out on whether diabetes puts one at risk of developing osteoarthritis, it is undeniable that the excess weight gain associated with type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Learn more about osteoarthritis.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis 

    Where osteoarthritis is caused by the natural wearing down of cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease where swelling causes pain. The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown but it is linked to autoimmune diseases. Type 1 diabetes is also an autoimmune disease and people at risk for one autoimmune disease are often at risk for others. Learn more about rheumatoid arthritis.

Diabetes & your joints 

In some cases, diabetics are more at risk for the joint issues noted above. In other cases, the joint issues themselves put one at higher risk of diabetes because of their side effects - most notably excess weight gain and sedentary lives.

There are no cures for the conditions noted above, but as with many issues, your health can be improved if you tackle them early. If you have diabetes and are experiencing joint pain or if you have chronic joint pain and are at risk for diabetes, talk to your doctor about the relationship between the two and steps you can take to better health. 


TOPICS: Orthopedics, Diabetes