How Does Diabetes Affect Your Bones?

diabetes and bone health

The incidence of diabetes is rising all around the world. Everyone should aware of diabetes and bone health. Factors like obesity, lack of healthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, and mental stress have contributed to the rising incidence of this disease. 

Diabetes is known to cause serious complications like stroke, heart attacks, and neuralgias. However, not many patients are aware that diabetes can also make them prone to develop bone diseases. 

Diabetes may affect the metabolic processes that maintain bone health. Healthy bones are necessary for overall general health and for leading a more active life.

It is important to be aware of how diabetes can affect the health of your bones. Let’s learn more about the link between diabetes and bone health.  

Importance of maintaining diabetes and bone health

Diabetes causes an increase in blood sugar levels. People with diabetes need to control their blood sugar levels at regular intervals. They also need to take medications including insulin injections and oral hypoglycemic drugs to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

It is important to monitor your overall health, including bone health, as a part of managing diabetes.

Diabetes can make bones weaker by interfering with the processes of bone formation and bone loss. Keeping up with the nutritional needs of your bone tissues can keep your bones healthy and decrease the risk of serious complications, including permanent deformities. 

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Patients with diabetes need to know how this disease can affect their bones.  Let’s look at the different bone disorders that are more likely to affect patients with diabetes. 

1. Charcot joint

Charcot Joint, sometimes called neuropathic arthropathy, is a joint disorder caused due to nerve damage. Charcot Joint usually affects the joints in the feet. [1] 

It can cause severe damage to the joint tissues leading to pain and restricted movement. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in the arms and legs or loss of sensation in the joints.

The joints may feel warm to touch and become red and swollen. The involved joint may become unstable due to structural deformities. [2]

If detected early, the progression of this disease can be prevented. The use of orthotic supports to reduce pressure on the affected joints and limiting weight-bearing activities may help to prevent the worsening of Charcot’s Joint.

2. Diabetic cheiroarthropathy

Diabetic cheiroarthropathy, also called limited joint mobility syndrome, causes severe restriction of movements of the hands. It makes the skin of the hands thick and waxy.

It can also cause an inability to extend your fingers and press your palms flat against each other.

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Though the exact cause of diabetic hand syndrome is not known, it is found to be more common in patients having uncontrolled diabetes and bone health. Controlling blood glucose levels and regular physical therapy are the best ways to slow down the progress of this condition. [3]

3. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a common bone disorder that occurs due to the loss of bone mineral density. It makes the bones weaker and porous. People with type 1 diabetes usually have an increased risk of osteoporosis. [4]

The metabolic changes occurring in the body due to diabetes can affect the activities of osteoclasts and osteoblasts. This may lead to an increased number of osteoclasts and decrease the number of osteoblasts in the bones. [5]

As a result, the rate of breakdown of bones exceeds the rate of formation of new bone cells. Over a period of time, these abnormalities can result in considerable bone loss making the bones spongy and porous.

As a result, the risk of fractures may increase considerably.

Some common signs of osteoporosis include stooped posture, loss of height, and bone fractures.

A healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements can help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. 

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4. Fracture

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that is known to increase the risk of fractures. It can interfere with the process of bone formation and impair the healing of damaged tissues. 

Diabetes can also trigger inflammation in the bones and joints. It may reduce the body’s natural ability to heal a fracture. People with diabetes need to be careful about controlling their blood sugar levels. [6]

5. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown and inflammation in the joint cartilage. It can affect any joint in the body, especially the hips and knees. People with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of osteoarthritis. [7]

Osteoarthritis may cause pain in the affected joints along with swelling and stiffness. It may also lead to the loss of joint flexibility and affect the routine activities of patients. [8]

Treatment of osteoarthritis involves regular exercises, maintaining a healthy weight, resting and caring for the affected joint, and using medications for pain. Surgery such as knee or hip replacement may be needed in severe cases of osteoarthritis. 

6. DISH

DISH, or Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis, refers to a disorder causing a hardening of ligaments and tendons. DISH is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes. The development of this disorder is linked to the side effects of insulin and insulin-like growth factors.

Patients with DISH may experience symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of movements of the affected part. If DISH affects the spine, you may experience pain and stiffness in your back and neck. [9] 

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7. Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is characterized by pain and a limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. It typically affects only one shoulder. It is common in patients with type 1 as well as type 2 diabetes.

Regular physical therapy can help to preserve movement and flexibility of the shoulder joint. [10]

Conclusion

Patients with diabetes should control their diet and take medications regularly to maintain normal blood sugar levels. At the same time, they should also assess their diabetes and bone health and include foods containing calcium and vitamin D in their diet to prevent the effects of diabetes on their bones. 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3161273/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6335590/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes/art-20049314
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3083906/
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11892-013-0376-x
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4692363/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30712918/
  8. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11306-015-0937-x
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11294086/
  10. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/body/skeletal-system.html

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