Healthy Living

Study Suggests Diabetes Carries A Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

A recent study confirmed that diabetics carry a risk musculoskeletal disorders. Learn about what this means for patients in the United States.

Study Suggests Diabetes Carries A Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

A study reported at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in October 2018, said that musculoskeletal disorders are connected to diabetes. In other words, if you have diabetes, you carry a high risk for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.

The take-home message is that the odds of having pains from the skeletal system and rheumatic disease are elevated if you have diabetes,” says Stig Molsted, Ph.D., who is the study's author and senior researcher from Nordsjaellands University Hospital in Hillerød, Denmark.

The report further enhanced a study published in 2015 in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorder, proving that those with diabetes had more musculoskeletal pain than those without a diabetes diagnosis.

In a new study, Dr. Mosted reviewed health data of 109,200 individuals in Denmark. About 8.5 percent or 9,238 of those had diabetes. The type of diabetes they suffered from was probably type 2 diabetes since the participants were over 40 years of age.

An analysis remarked that those with diabetes were 70 percent more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis, while 33 percent develop osteoarthritis, and 29 percent may also experience osteoporosis.

Diabetes leads to musculoskeletal pain because chronically elevated blood glucose destroys your tissues. Musculoskeletal problems are degenerative diseases, and poor blood sugar control means blood does not get to your musculoskeletal system in generous qualities. This results in a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis.

Osteoarthritis is known as the “wear and tear” arthritis and is the most common type of arthritis affecting about 27 million Americans. The disease causes damage to the tissues covering the ends of bones in a joint. Bones rub together, and the result is pain and stiffness. Most people who get osteoarthritis have lived longer lives and their joints are wearing out. Osteoarthritis first affects the knees, the lower back, and the neck. Your fingers are also at risk for osteoarthritis and they become bend and painful.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the joints. When the immune system attacks the joints, this causes inflammation that allows the tissues that line the insides of the joints to thicken. The results are swelling and pain around the joints. Inflammation that is unchecked can damage cartilage, and eventually the bones themselves. As time goes on, joints may become loose, unstable, and painful. Joint deformity can also occur, and this type of damage cannot be reversed.

Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle. Bones become so fragile that a fall or even mild stress like bending over or coughing cause a fracture. Most of these types of fractures occur in the hips, wrists or spine. You can prevent osteoporosis with medications, healthy diet, and weight-bearing exercises. The risk of osteoporosis is caused by celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney or liver disease, multiple myeloma, and now it is being discovered that diabetes can cause a  risk of osteoporosis.

The strong connection between rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and diabetes may be due to inflammation because of poor sugar management or steroid use that helps in the pain and suffering of musculoskeletal diseases.

How Not to Be A Statistic if You are Diabetic

As a person with diabetes, you are probably vigilant about your blood sugar control. You know that unmanaged diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney failure. There is a risk that is not as well advertised, yet still dangerous: Bone fractures.

“Health care providers often neglect to tell patients with diabetes that they could be at higher risk of bone fractures,” says M. James Lenhard, MD, who is the section chief of endocrinology and medical director of the the Diabetes and Metabolic Research Center, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Center, and the Weight Management Center at the Christiana Care Health System located in Wilmington, Delaware.

Studies claim that those with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at three times greater risk of bone fractures than those with normal blood sugar levels.

Things you can do that are a benefit to your bones, if you have diabetes, is first and foremost, exercise. If you are physically active, your chances of having shoulder, neck and back pain is significantly reduced. Dr. Molsted emphasizes that patients with diabetes will experience only positive effects from exercise. Their blood glucose levels are lowered, and the aches and pains from their muscular-skeletal system are reduced, and general health is improved.

Dr. Molsted goes on to say that exercise is excellent for those patients who have arthritis and trouble moving.

“If the patients with diabetes and a rheumatic disease find it difficult to perform an exercise, it may be relevant to use medication to decrease the pains to be able to perform the exercise,” says Molsted. “The positive effects of exercise may exceed the side effects of the medication.”

If you have diabetes and it hurts to move, start with low-impact activities. Walk for 30 minutes a day or cycle, swim or do exercises in the water. After you find that you have reduced your pain, you can go on to other types of exercises.

Try these exercises:

  • Make exercise a routine or a habit. Walking is easy for you to do. All you need is a good pair of shoes and somewhere to go. Walking is the most prescribed activity for those with type 2 diabetes. Brisk walking that raises the heart rate has beneficial effects when you do it for at least three days a week. The Amerian Diabetes Association recommends that if you have diabetes, you do not go more than two consecutive days without exercising.
  • Tai Chi is a series of movements performed in a slow and relaxed manner for 30 minutes. It has been practiced for centuries and is an excellent choice of exercise for those with type 2 diabetes. Tai Chi provides fitness and stress reduction, improved balanced and may reduce nerve damage.
  • Weight training is not just for those trying to gain chiseled muscles or with diabetes but good for everyone. Weight training builds muscle mass, which is essential for those with diabetes. A loss of muscle mass makes it harder to maintain blood sugar levels. Weight train two times a week – in between your walking programmes.
  • Yoga is a perfect way to control diabetes. Yoga lowers body fat, fights insulin resistance, and improves nerve function. It is also a stress reducer. You can do yoga as often as you like. In fact, doctors say the more yoga you do, the better.
  • Swimming is an excellent aerobic exercise for everyone and ideal for those with type 2 diabetes. There is no pressure on your joints when your swim. It causes no injuries to feel like walking and running, and swimming is a great stress reliever.
  • Ride a stationary bike. Stationary biking a form of aerobic exercise that makes your heart stronger and your lungs function better. A stationary bike is ideal for those with diabetes since you do it inside, you don’t have to worry about falling and it improves blood flow to your legs. You will also burn calories to keep your weight at healthy levels.

There is no excuse for keeping our weight down and avoiding musculoskeletal problems if you are diabetic. Doctors have emphasized the importance of exercise for decades and exercise is still the key to keeping your blood sugar under control.