Joint Disorders Associated with Diabetes

Among the many side effects of diabetes are bone and joint problems.

There are a variety of musculoskeletal problems that can cause pain in the fingers, hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, spine, hips or feet.

There are many different types of musculoskeletal disorders, and some are unique to diabetes. The musculoskeletal system includes the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and tendons. Problems in these areas can affect mobility or cause deformities, joint pain or stiffness, numbness or a "pins and needles" sensation in the arms or legs.

The statistical correlations between joint disease and diabetes are strong – the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 52 percent of people with arthritis also have diabetes – but the process tying the two together has not been determined. Diabetes is also the foremost cause of neuropathic joint disease in the U.S., with the foot as the most commonly affected region.

Charcot Joint

Charcot joint, also known as neuropathic arthropathy, is a diabetes-related disorder that results in damage to lower-limb joints. The deterioration is the result of nerve damage, a common side effect of diabetes. While occurring primarily in the feet, the ankles and hips may also suffer damage. Symptoms of the disorder may include pain, numbness or tingling, and the affected joint may become unstable or deformed.

Dupuytren's Contracture

People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing Dupuytren's contracture. Dupuytren's contracture causes knots to form in the layer of tissue underneath the skin of the palm. As these knots harden, they eventually form a thick cord that draws the fingers – usually the ring finger and the pinky, but occasionally the middle finger as well – in towards the palm. Once this happens, the hand cannot be opened all the way, limiting many activities. The progress of the disease is often slow, with many years passing between onset and full disability.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causes thinning of the bones, weakening them and making them more prone to fracture. People who have type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of osteoporosis. It is believed that this happens because both disorders are autoimmune disorders. The progression of the disorder is slow and asymptomatic in the early stages. Eventually the patient will begin to lose height and become stooped. Bone fractures, particularly in the hips, become more likely.

DISH

Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), also known as Forestier disease, causes a hardening of the tendons and ligaments, most commonly those that support the spine. DISH is associated with type 2 diabetes and is believed to be the result of insulin promoting tissue growth. While most often impacting the spine with stiffness and decreased range of motion, DISH may affect any part of the body.

Frozen Shoulder

Diabetes-induced nerve damage can cause inflammation on the shoulder joint, leading to a condition commonly referred to as frozen shoulder. Pain can result in limited range of motion, causing the shoulder joint to "freeze." This commonly affects only one shoulder at a time.

Sources: Clinical Diabetes Journals , Healthline.com and Mayo Clinic

Image courtesy of aarchiba

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