Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by problems with insulin and blood sugar imbalance. If a person suffers with spikes in high blood glucose levels too often, and they do not receive treatment, it can lead to a range of health conditions such as joint pains. Diabetes can cause changes in your musculoskeletal system, which is a collective term for your muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. These changes can cause numerous conditions that may affect your fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, spine, or feet. Patients suffering with long duration uncontrolled diabetes can also develop complications like breakdown of the musculoskeletal system. This can involve joint damage and a limited range of joint movement. Diabetes can also cause changes in nerves and small blood vessels. Certain joints conditions tend to develop in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Joint problems often correlate with the duration and control of diabetes.
These conditions include:
- Frozen shoulder or rotator cuff tendinitis– Frozen shoulder is a painful condition in which your shoulder loses some or all mobility. If you have chronic high blood sugar levels, sugar molecules may attach to collagen. Collagen is a major protein that makes up the connective tissue that holds your joints together. When the sugar attaches to the collagen, it gets sticky, so movement becomes restricted and your shoulder starts to stiffen. When you try to work through the stickiness, it causes pain that progresses from mild to severe. In some cases, your shoulder becomes impossible to move.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome– it is a progressively painful hand and arm condition that develops from a pinched nerve in your wrist. It specifically affects the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel from your hand into your forearm. When the median nerve is pinched from swelling of nerves or tendons in the carpal tunnel, it results in numbness, tingling, and pain that can affect the hand and fingers. It can also lead to other symptoms like poor circulation and loss of grip strength. The root cause of the condition is unknown. Researchers believe that high blood glucose levels make the tendons of the carpal tunnel become glycosylated. That means, the tendons become inflamed, and excess sugars form a “biological superglue” make the tendons unable to slide freely
- Charcot’s Arthropathy- Charcot’s joint occurs when diabetic nerve damage causes a joint to break down. Also called neuropathic arthropathy, this condition is seen in the feet and ankles in people with diabetes. Nerve damage in the feet is common in diabetes, which may lead to Charcot’s joint. When the joints are damaged, the cushioning no longer works as effectively. As a result, the bones can rub together, causing inflammation, stiffness, and pain. The person may experience limited joint mobility.
- Osteoarthritis– Inflammatory wear and tear of the joint leading to pain, stiffness. People with diabetes and metabolic obesity are known to have more systemic inflammation. There’s a lot of thought that that inflammation might predispose people to more severe arthritis and even could contribute to inflammation of the joint as a result of arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis- It is an autoimmune disorder just like diabetes mellitus. People with type 1 Diabetes are more likely to develop Rheumatoid arthritis as compared to non-Diabetic population.