A new study has found that having diabetes can increase your risk of developing arthritis and osteoporosis, especially if you’re over the age of 65. The association was strongest for rheumatoid arthritis, although osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis comorbidity in patients with diabetes. In the past, a connection has been found between diabetes and musculoskeletal pain, but there is limited information on the effects of diabetes on arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The study included 109,218 participants over the age of 40 with information gathered from the Danish National Health Survey performed in 2013. In total, 9,238 participants had been diagnosed with diabetes at the outset of the study. The experimental group, those with diabetes, were slightly older and weighed more on average than the control group of those without diabetes. The data were adjusted to account for the roles of age, gender, and BMI. The researchers analyzed the effects of diabetes on arthritis, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and rates of physical activity.
Diabetes Associated with More Pain Overall
The researchers found that the participants with diabetes had higher incidences of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis when compared to the control group. They found that 61 percent of the diabetes patients had increase back pain and only 51 percent of the control group reported the same issue. Those with diabetes reported a 56 percent prevalence of shoulder and neck pain, versus only 52 percent of the participants who did not suffer from diabetes at the time of the reporting.
This study’s results are limited to patients with type 2 diabetes and may not relate the same way to those who suffer from type 1 diabetes. Future research will be needed to compare these same effects in patients with type 1 diabetes. Additional studies should also examine populations that are younger to see how these results might be used as a predictor for the development of arthritis or osteoporosis with age.
While the results of this study do show a strong association between type 2 diabetes and arthritis and osteoporosis, the findings here are of a correlational nature only. The causation of the two comorbidities is still unknown, although there is a link between rheumatoid pain and a decrease in physical activity, which is known to be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. It is unclear whether diabetes is what increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis or if the musculoskeletal conditions are what increases a person’s risk for developing diabetes.
The researchers advise medical practitioners to remind their diabetes patients to continue to maintain exercise routines and not to allow arthritis or musculoskeletal pain to dissuade them from being physically active as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, be sure to inform your doctor that you want to be examined for any signs of osteoporosis or arthritis regularly. If these conditions do appear or you begin experiencing pain in your joints, contact your doctor immediately.