People with diabetes are more likely to report neck and lower back pain, but it is unclear whether diabetes is the cause.
Diabetes was associated with a 35 percent increased risk of reporting back pain in a study of 131,431 people. Neck pain was 24 percent higher risk among a group of 6,560 people.
In follow-up studies, there was no association between diabetes and neck and lower back pain, leading researchers to believe other factors are at play.
Senior study author Manuela Ferreira explained, “We know that obesity and physical inactivity are risk factors for both conditions, so it is likely that they underlie that link. Keeping normal blood sugar levels, managing body weight and most importantly keeping physically active are key in managing and preventing this combination of chronic diseases.”
There are two types of diabetes, 1 and 2, with type 2 diabetes being the most common type. Type 2 diabetes is related to obesity and aging and occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin to convert blood sugar into energy. Type 1 diabetes is less common and occurs in childhood or young adulthood. It results in the pancreas being unable to produce enough insulin.
The researchers looked at data from 11 different studies in six countries that looked at neck, back, spinal pain, or combinations of these types of pain.
One study looked at diabetics without skeletal pain to see if they developed pain over time. After two to four years, no connection between diabetes and pain was found.
The researchers suggest that obesity in diabetics could be a contributing factor to pain.
Researcher Dr. Ahmed Hassoon, who was not involved in the study, added, “If we add more weight beyond the capacity of the spine and its supporting disks and muscles, then we will destabilize it and will have all sorts of issues, and if we don’t move enough, our support muscles will not be strong enough to support the spine.”
Additionally, being overweight could contribute to blood vessel and nerve damage, which could increase the risk of experiencing pain. This type of damage can occur if diabetes isn’t well managed. This is why it is so important to adhere to your treatment plan to keep diabetes under control.