How Diabetes Affects Your Bones

Diabetes is on the rise, with more than 24 million Americans being affected by the disease. What’s even more frightening is type 2 diabetes, which usually affects adults is now showing up in children. The complications caused by diabetes such as limb loss and heart disease are equally disturbing. 60% of all non-traumatic lower-limb amputations performed in the US are due to diabetes.

Another important consideration is the serious damage diabetes can do to your bones. This can occur in several ways:

  • Increased blood sugar levels inhibit bone-forming cells from building strong bones.
  • Certain oral diabetic medications cause bone loss as a side effect.
  • Diabetic kidney damage results in loss of calcium required for strong bones.
  • Joint deterioration due to nerve damage caused by diabetes.
  • Increased risk of falls resulting in bone fractures due to diabetes-related nerve damage, poor vision, and low blood sugar.

Below is a list of bone conditions associated with diabetes and how to treat them. They include:

  • Osteoporosis: Low bone mineral density resulting in weak bones. A healthy lifestyle that includes weight-bearing exercises and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is the best way to treat this condition.
  • Osteoarthritis: Breakdown of joint cartilage. Management involves leading an active lifestyle, avoiding too much stress on the joint, and surgical repair in case of severe deterioration of the joint.
  • Charcot Joint: Joint deterioration due to diabetes-related nerve damage causing numbness, tingling, and loss of sensation usually in the feet. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can halt the worsening of symptoms. The use of orthotic supports and limited weight-bearing is also helpful.
  • Diabetic Hand Syndrome: Waxy and thickened skin on the hands, limited finger movement, and inability to press the palms together. Physical therapy and improved blood glucose management help to slow the progression of this condition.
  • Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis: Hardening of the ligaments and tendons usually affecting the spine resulting in pain and stiffness of the back or neck. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help relieve pain. In rare cases, surgical removal of abnormal bone formation is recommended.
  • Dupuytren’s Contracture: Thickened and scarred connective tissue of the palm and fingers causing a deformity of the hand. Steroid and enzyme injections are usually administered to break apart the thick tissue. Surgery is indicated in severe cases.
  • Frozen Shoulder: Painful limitation in range of motion of the shoulder. Physical therapy and surgical measures are the treatment choices to preserve the range of motion.

Understanding how diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors can affect your bone mass is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. These factors can help to build strong bones and keep diabetes at bay.

Prediabetes and Joint Pain

Having excess weight puts a person at risk of both prediabetes and joint pain.

The weight can lead to higher levels of blood sugar, and the pancreas may be unable to produce enough insulin to keep up. This can cause a person to develop type 2 diabetes.

Carrying extra weight also puts stress on the joints, particularly in the lower body. To reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and to limit stress on the joints, a person should maintain a healthy weight. Often, a person can do this by exercising regularly and eating a healthful diet, full of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins.

When a person does not receive effective treatment, diabetes can cause joint pain. The pain can result from the effects of diabetes on the musculoskeletal or nervous systems. Joint pain can also occur if diabetes is causing arthritis, such as RA or OA.

In some people, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are enough to reduce joint pain. Others may need additional treatment.

Eating a healthful diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve symptoms and prevent complications.

For more health tips and information about the body Call me, Douglas J. Roger, M.D, at 1-760-416-4511. I practice with the Institute of Clinical Orthopedics and Neuroscience in the Desert Regional Medical Center the office is located at 1180 N Indian Canyon Drive W201, Palm Springs, CA 92262. To make an appointment call 760-416-4511.