Photo: Getty Images
I remember watching my maternal grandmother struggle not only with diabetes during her later years, but also with the debilitating effects of arthritis and all of the associated joint pain. A beautiful lady, I felt so badly for her as she suffered through the afternoon and evening of her life. Both diseases took their obvious toll on her body, and the joint issues she sustained were very evident in her hands and in her gait. While she tried to ignore the amount of pain she was in, it was obviously compromising her formerly active lifestyle. I remember thinking how unfair it was that she was dealing with two significant health issues simultaneously.
Recent research indicates that individuals with diabetes are almost twice as likely to have arthritis. There does appear to be a strong diabetes-arthritis connection. If you suffer from both diseases, then you are most likely undergoing different treatments for both of them and are probably under the care of different physicians. For my grandmother, she had a revolving door of appointments, treatments, and lifestyle changes to pursue.
The good news in this regard is that the lifestyle changes you make can have a positive impact on both conditions. Just a simple daily regimen of walking and eating healthy foods benefits not only the diabetes, but the arthritis as well.
Diabetes creates changes in the musculoskeletal system which can lead to stiffness and joint pain. You may experience swelling near the joints or develop nodules under the skin, especially in the fingers. Other possible ailments include trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, sore shoulders, and badly affected feet. When diabetes has been present for a number of years, significant joint damage, also known as diabetic arthropathy, can present.
However, just because you have diabetes does not necessarily mean a diagnosis of arthritis is right around the corner, nor does having arthritis necessarily mean you will be a victim of diabetes, either. If you have one of these conditions and strive to take good care of yourself, you increase your chances of keeping the other disease at bay.