Tendon Pain and Diabetes: The Relationship and Remedy
Not only is tendinopathy, or pain in and around the tendons, more prevalent in people with diabetes, but diabetes is more common in those with tendinopathy.
This was discovered in a research meta-analysis subsequently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Specifically, the study showed that individuals with type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to suffer from tendon pain than non-diabetics, and people with tendinopathy are 30 percent more likely to have diabetes than those with pain-free tendons.
This problem with tendinopathy, sometimes called tendinosis, is significant to those with diabetes for three reasons:
- The discomfort caused by tendinopathy can diminish a person’s quality of life.
- Evidence suggests that Achilles tendinopathy in people with diabetes may cause them to increase the weight, or pressure placed on their forefoot. This can trigger the development of plantar forefoot ulcers, and the possibility of serious infection.
- Painful tendons may stop individuals from engaging in physical activity—and remaining active is an important aspect of diabetes management.
Fortunately, if tendinopathy is correctly diagnosed, it can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, it is often misdiagnosed as tendinitis.
Tendinopathy vs Tendinitis
Tendinitis is inflammation that occurs when the muscle-tendon unit is strained, and micro-tears develop. Reducing the inflammation is beneficial when treating tendinitis; however, inflammation is not present in tendinopathy.
The degeneration of a tendon’s collagen from chronic over use is the cause of tendinopathy, and treating this condition with an anti-inflammatory might actually inhibit collagen repair.
A physical therapist or other professional experienced in treating tendinopathy may recommend rest (initially), supports (e.g., bracing, taping), application of ice, massage, targeted stretching and strengthening movements, and specific vitamin or mineral supplements.
With proper treatment, people with tendinopathy can expect their pain to be eliminated or significantly reduced, and will generally experience increased strength, and range of motion. Many individuals return to their usual activities without tendon discomfort.