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Bone and Joint Problems Associated with Diabetes

Bone and Joint Problems Associated with Diabetes
Bone and Joint Problems Associated with Diabetes
Other than the well-known complications such as kidney failure, vision problems, and loss of sensation in the extremities, being diagnosed with diabetes increases your risk for developing bone and joint problems. These are caused due to nerve damage and blood circulation issues that occur if your blood sugar levels are high.

Other than the well-known complications such as kidney failure, vision problems, and loss of sensation in the extremities, being diagnosed with diabetes increases your risk for developing bone and joint problems. These are caused due to nerve damage and blood circulation issues that occur if your blood sugar levels are high.

Here are some bone and joint conditions that are commonly associated with diabetes:

  • Charcot’s Joint: Also called neuropathic arthropathy, Charcot’s joint is a type of degenerative disease caused due to nerve damage. Swelling, warmth, redness, and instability of the joint are commonly experienced. You may have to limit weightbearing activities and use supportive orthotics to prevent wear and tear of the joint.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Stiffness, pain, and limited range of movement are characteristic features of a frozen shoulder. Typically, only one shoulder is affected. Aggressive physical therapy to improve or preserve range of motion is the best way to treat this condition. 
  • Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH): This condition is characterized by hardening of ligaments and tendons resulting in stiffness and reduced range of motion. The spine is commonly affected. Treatment involves use of pain medication and physical therapy to retain flexibility. In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove excess bone.
  • Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH): This condition is characterized by hardening of ligaments and tendons resulting in stiffness and reduced range of motion. The spine is commonly affected. Treatment involves use of pain medication and physical therapy to retain flexibility. In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove excess bone.
  • Osteoporosis: Those who suffer from type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of developing this condition. Your bones become brittle and are prone to easily fracture due to loss of bone mineral density. You can protect your bones by eating food rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting enough sunlight (15-20 minutes a day), and performing weightbearing exercise to improve bone density.
  • Osteoarthritis: People with type 2 diabetes generally tend to be overweight/obese and are at risk of developing osteoarthritis due to the excess weight rather than the diabetes itself. The treatment would involve achieving a healthy body mass index, healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes type 1 are both autoimmune disorders that share some common inflammatory markers. Although research studies are not very clear, having one condition may increase the risk of developing the other. Certain medications used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (such as TNF inhibitors) may also provide protection against diabetes.

The key to successfully treating diabetes-related orthopedic issues is to identify and treat them at an early stage. If you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor or an orthopedic specialist about your personal risk of developing bone and joint problems.

Credibility Links

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Medical Association
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • Mid-America Orthopaedic Association
  • Michigan Institute for Advanced Surgery Center