Diabetes: Bone & Joint Problems & How to Treat Them
Diabetes does not only impact blood pressure, the heart and the liver, but it also brings with it significant bone and joint problems. Those unfamiliar with the disease and its overarching effects on every organ of the body may sigh in disbelief. Yes, bone and joint problems are independent conditions, but for those diagnosed with diabetes, they come complimentary.
There are a number of such problems that you need to be aware of in case you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes. The sooner you begin taking steps to prevent them, the less power diabetes will have over your life.
Here are the most commonly-occurring bone and joint problems associated with diabetes:
Often referred to as neuropathic arthropathy, Charcot is a joint condition that develops due to nerve damage caused by diabetes. Nerve damage, especially in the ankles and feet is a common effect of diabetes, a problem that causes severe numbness. A loss of sensation in the feet automatically makes one prone to sprains and ligament injuries.Over time, this may lead to a complete deterioration of the joint. In its extreme cases, Charcot may also cause bone deformities. Symptoms of Charcot include swelling, numbness and redness of the feet. The feet and ankles may also feel more hot than usual.
If you’re losing sensation in the feet, it is suggested that you minimise their use in order to prevent injuries. You must also wear orthotics at all times to offer a cushioning support to your feet.
One of the most commonly occurring bone problems among type 2 diabetics, osteoarthritis is a condition that is directly related to excess weight and obesity. When the cartilage of bones begins to wear and tear, the bones begin rubbing against each other, making it difficult to move your limbs. The areas most affected by osteoarthritis are hips and knees.
Treatment: The key to reducing the effects of osteoarthritis is to exercise daily and eat healthy in order to lose weight.
Those suffering from type 1 diabetes are most likely to develop osteoporosis. This condition makes the bones brittle, making them prone to breaking. If osteoporosis is not treated in its early stages, it can lead to adverse effects such as fracture, loss of height and a stunted posture.
Treatment: Increase intake of calcium through calcium-rich food or medicines, as directed by your diabetes doctor.
- Diabetic Hand Syndrome
Affecting patients who have been diabetic for a long period of time, this is a condition that causes skin on the hands to become loose, stretchy and thickened. Also known as diabetic cheiroarthropathy, Diabetic hand syndrome results in restricted movement of fingers. The condition can worsen to the extent that one is unable to stretch their palms and press them flat together.
Treatment: While the condition is irreversible, regular physiotherapy and strictly regulating one’s blood sugar level may ease a diabetic hand syndrome.
- Frozen Shoulder
As the name suggests, this disease affects the shoulders. Not only does it cause shoulder pain, but also restricts their movement by a great degree. The condition also causes stiffness in the shoulder joints.
Treatment: While there is no treatment that will cure a patient of this condition, physiotherapy in early stages may help preserve a certain degree of movement in the shoulders.
- Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH)
Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH), also called Forestier disease affects patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. DISH results in the hardening of ligaments and tendons since it increases insulin in the body and assists growth of new bones. DISH can affect the spine, causing stiffness of the back and neck.
Treatment: Pain relieving medicines may help ease the pain. However, in its advanced stages, only a surgical removal of the new bone can prove helpful.
- Dupuytren’s contracture
This is a rare but serious deformity that causes one’s fingers to bend towards the palm. Patients who have been battling with diabetes for long periods of time are the ones who show maximum signs of suffering from this disease. Dupytren’s contracture is caused due to thickening and scarring of connective tissue of the palm and fingers. The condition can get so serious that one may permanently be unable to straighten their fingers.
Treatment: This serious disease can be eased through steroids, collagenase enzyme injections, and aponeurotomy that will break the thick tissue. The treatment will not revive the original agility of your hands, but only allow you to grasp objects.
High sugar levels in the body due to diabetes lead to a domino effect in the body. The disease, if not controlled, slowly affects all organs, the nervous system as well as bones and joints. Evidently, once diabetes reaches its advanced stages, it takes over your body, slowly and steadily rendering you incapable.
In order to preserve the activity of various parts of your body, it is important that steps to keep diabetes under control be taken at its onset. Once diabetes peaks, it becomes difficult to reverse its effects on the body.