Does Diabetes Cause Joint Pain?
Unless you’re personally afflicted with the disease — or are close to someone who is — most people only have a general understanding of diabetes. Maybe they’ve heard that it’s caused by eating too much sugar or not getting enough exercise. Or maybe you know someone who has Type I diabetes — for whom diet has been irrelevant to their diagnosis. Regardless of the circumstances, if you believe you may have the condition and subsequently also experience joint pain, you may be wondering if the ailments are related. Or maybe you’ve heard about prediabetes and are wondering how can you tell if you have it and whether it’s related to your joint pain.
What are the symptoms of prediabetes?
Prediabetes is the precursor to Type II diabetes. It occurs when your blood sugar levels are higher than a healthy range, but not yet high enough to be considered as having Type II diabetes. However, if you fail to implement lifestyle changes — such as eating healthy and incorporating regular physical exercise — it’s likely to develop into Type II diabetes.
Prediabetes usually doesn’t have any symptoms — yet it can start to damage the blood vessels, kidneys, and heart. While you won’t experience any particular physical discomfort, you may notice that the skin in your neck, armpits, elbows, knuckles, groin, and knees may become darkened.
How is prediabetes diagnosed?
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends screening for overweight and obese adults who also have one or more diabetes risk factors, including:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Acanthosis nigricans
- Women who have delivered a baby that weighed more than 9 lbs
- Women who developed gestational diabetes
- A first-degree relative with diabetes
Can diabetes cause carpal tunnel syndrome?
To understand carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s helpful to do an overview of how certain nerves work. On the side of your neck, there’s a cluster of nerves called brachial plexus. They travel from your shoulders down the arms — and they control the muscles along the shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers. One of the biggest nerves in this group is called the median nerve, and it spans the entire length of your arms. It’s located on the inside of the arms, and it’s responsible for providing sensation to most of the fingers.
When you do the same fingers, hands, and wrist movements on a regular basis, the inside of your wrists may become inflamed and swollen. This puts pressure on the median nerve — resulting in tingling, numbness, or weakness of the affected hand and thumb. This condition is called carpal tunnel syndrome.
While most cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are the result of repetitive movement, the swelling and inflammation of the tissues inside your wrist can also occur from high blood glucose levels. Because of this, people with diabetes are 15 times more likely than the general population to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. For people who haven’t yet been diagnosed with diabetes, being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome may predict diabetes.
Can diabetes cause additional joint pain?
In addition to the wrist pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, uncontrolled diabetes can cause Dupuytren’s contracture (drawing up of the palms), Charcot’s joint, trigger finger, tendinitis, and frozen shoulder. This is due to elevated blood sugar causing the breakdown of the musculoskeletal system. All of these conditions damage their respective joints — causing inflammation, chronic pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion.
To add insult to injury, people with Type II diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop arthritis, which causes the breakdown of cartilage between the joints. Once the cartilage starts deteriorating, you’ll experience pain as the bones in your joints rub against each other — with the pain being exacerbated by the extra pressure caused by excess weight.
If you have diabetes, let us help you.
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you.