Jan 28, 2021

Diabetes and Arthritis: Everything You Need To Know

Posted By: David Pittaway
Diabetes and Arthritis

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood sugar, or blood glucose, levels rise higher than normal. This is because of problems regarding how your body produces a hormone called insulin. Simply put, glucose is a source of energy for cells in your muscles and tissues, however too much of this in your blood can lead to serious health problems, the main one being diabetes.

Within this, there are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 which many people have to deal with on a daily basis. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin while those with type 2 diabetes either resists the effects of insulin, or doesn’t make enough of it to maintain normal glucose levels.

Diabetes is a fairly common disease that can be managed throughout a person's life with several signs and symptoms that will usually develop slowly over an extended period of time. The main symptoms include:

  • ● Increased thirst and subsequent urination
  • ● Increased hunger
  • ● Regular fatigue
  • ● Blurred vision
  • ● Weight loss that was not intended or happens without trying
  • ● Sores that don’t heal

However, this is probably something that inspires a lot of questions from you, especially when it comes to it relating to your arthritis, namely:

  • ● What does any of this have to with arthritis?
  • ● Can diabetes cause arthritis?
  • ● If so, how can diabetes affect the joints?
  • ● How can diabetes cause joint pain?
  • ● What can a diabetic take for arthritis pain relief?

Here, we will answer some of these important questions.

Diabetes and Joint Pain

Osteoarthritis and diabetes are examples of diseases that have a lot in common such as being impacted by obesity and ageing. It has been found that 47% of adults with diabetes, also suffer from arthritis. It also uncovered that people with arthritis have a 61% higher risk of developing diabetes than those without the joint disease, illustrating a correlation between the two ailments.

High blood sugar can contribute towards the development of molecules that encourage the production of cytokines that can cause inflammation. It may also trigger the production of compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which have the propensity to build up in joints and then cause damage to them.

As well as this, higher blood sugar levels, as many diabetics suffer from, may have a direct impact on cartilage and bone health, due to the previously mentioned AGEs. These can form in a person’s bloodstream when proteins or fats combine with sugar. Usually, your body naturally rids itself of the compounds, but if you have high blood sugar, the risk of producing too many AGEs too quickly increases, leading to a problematic build up in the body.

Tips To Follow If You Have Diabetes And Arthritis

As with arthritis, there are no outright cures for diabetes. However, there are steps you can take to reduce blood sugar levels and therefore lower both the chances of developing diabetes and arthritis, as well as tips to follow in order to relive the impact of them:

1. Manage Your Weight: Excess weight contributes to both insulin resistance and adds unnecessary strain on joints, particularly load bearing ones. It is estimated that for each additional 2 pounds of body weight you have, it adds an extra 13 pounds of load on arthritic knees. The simple solution is to both lose and manage your weight better. Even just a small weight loss will alleviate pressure, helping ease pain in joints, and improve your overall fitness. In fact, losing just 5 to 10% of your body weight can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, helping both your arthritis and diabetes.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet: Diet can also be a big factor in both arthritis and diabetes complaints. A healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein, will help your body function more effectively. Reduce the amount you are eating in total and look to help your body maintain steady blood glucose levels. Protein and healthy fats alongside whole-grain carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables will be important for your diet moving forward. It’s important to discuss this with either your doctor or a trained dietician before making any large changes to your diet.

Food for Arthritis

3. Exercise: Exercise helps control your weight and reduces blood glucose levels, as well as reduces arthritis pain and increases mobility. Low impact activities such as water aerobics, cycling and stretching regularly should be performed several times a week. Again, talk to your doctor and an experienced physical therapist to determine which exercises are appropriate based on your condition. Be careful not to exercise to the point of pain though which can increase the risk of further damage and injury.

Final Thoughts

As with most things, making changes to your lifestyle and receiving treatment early will help avoid long term medical complications impacted as a result of either diabetes or osteoarthritis. While these conditions can’t be cured permanently, there are treatments available to help minimize pain and discomfort, allowing you to lead a healthy, full life. If you do have any of the symptoms mentioned throughout this post, please call your doctor at once.

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