Diabetics often experience joint pain that hinders health and exercise routines. Here’s everything you need to know about diabetes and joint pain.

Diabetes Joint Pain Explained: Symptoms and Treatment

Diabetics are accustomed to monitoring their condition as closely as possible. Am I tired? How are my blood sugar levels? Do I feel dizzy? It’s an ongoing process. For many, diabetes joint pain is another factor to consider, especially if you want to lead an active lifestyle and build muscle. At the end of the day, diabetics are twice as likely to have joint pain and arthritis! In fact, 47% of people with arthritis have diabetes too.

So, if you’re wondering how diabetes might be affecting your joints, you’re in the right place.

Can Diabetes Cause Joint Pain? | Type 1 Diabetes Joint Pain | Type 2 Diabetes Joint Pain | Prediabetes Joint Pain | Diabetes Joint Pain Symptoms | Diabetes Joint Pain Treatment | What Diabetes Medicine Causes Joint Pain? | Frequently Asked Questions | Related Articles

Can Diabetes Cause Joint Pain?

It’s difficult to determine if diabetes is the direct cause of joint pain, but we do know that diabetics are more likely to have problems with their bones and joints. Other factors such as diabetic myopathy (muscle tiredness) and neuropathy (nerve damage) can affect the health of your joints. If you have diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin — the hormone that controls the amount of sugar in your bloodstream and fuels your muscles. As a result, diabetes muscle and joint pain can occur due to a weakened musculoskeletal system.

Charcot Foot in Diabetics

An example of joint pain caused by diabetes is a rare condition called Charcot foot, otherwise known as diabetes foot. It results in nerve damage around the affected joints, bones, and soft tissue in your feet and ankles. If the condition isn’t diagnosed early, the joints in the foot might collapse and you can develop pressure sores or foot deformities (ouch!). Researchers believe that high blood glucose levels can affect the body’s ability to send signals to the brain and weakens your blood vessels, resulting in nerve damage. That means diabetics have an increased risk of nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) and associated symptoms like Charcot joint pain (neuropathic arthropathy).

Type 1 Diabetes Joint Pain

Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin, resulting in low blood sugar levels. Two distinct symptoms of type 1 diabetes include rapid weight loss and chronic muscle weakness. These symptoms often result in joint pain due to a lack of the musculoskeletal strength required to support your body through day-to-day activities. Therefore, the joints are under pressure and there isn’t enough glucose in the bloodstream to maintain adequate muscle and bone health.

Type 2 Diabetes Joint Pain

The onset of type 2 diabetes is usually a result of an unhealthy lifestyle: eating sugary foods filled with trans fats and sitting on the couch all day. With this condition, the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels is stunted and you’re more likely to be overweight and experience both joint and muscle pain. The American Diabetes Association reports that 80 - 90% of type 2 diabetics are overweight or have obesity. The increased stress on the body from carrying excess weight can result in unbearable joint pain!

Prediabetes Joint Pain

Prediabetes is a serious health condition in which blood sugar levels in the body are alarmingly high, but not yet at a stage that warrants a diabetes diagnosis. 1 in 3 American adults are prediabetic which is a major cause for concern. And it’s not uncommon for prediabetics to experience joint pain as they are typically overweight and inactive. There’s loads of pressure on the joints when carrying extra weight with weaker muscles.

Diabetes Joint Pain Symptoms

Symptoms of joint pain in diabetics are fairly easy to recognize. It simply comes down to whether you’re experiencing pain or discomfort. For some, the pain only kicks in during/after physical activity, but it’s usually very noticeable.

Joint Pain Symptoms:

  • ​Pain
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Skin discoloration near the joints (redness, yellowness)
  • Numbness/loss of sensation
  • Tenderness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Warm to the touch near the joints

Is joint pain a symptom of diabetes? For the most part, you can have diabetes without having joint pain at all. Joint pain is caused by a variety of health conditions such as bone cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.

Diabetes Joint Pain Treatment Options

Diabetes joint pain treatment typically comes down to fitness and lifestyle changes.

Treatments include the following:

  • ​Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your age, gender and size
  • Rest any injured or painful parts of the body, especially if you enjoy weight training
  • Recieve physical therapy (and go to your follow-up sessions!)
  • Work with a fitness professional to develop an exercise program that suits your needs
  • Massage and acupuncture to relax the muscles

These lifestyle changes will make a huge difference for diabetics, whether you have joint pain or not. However, if you find that your pain or discomfort is persistent and preventing you from getting through the day, it’s time to consult a healthcare professional. You may require pain medication or a hip/knee replacement surgery in extreme cases.

What Diabetes Medicine Causes Joint Pain?

There’s quite an extensive list of medications for diabetics that can cause joint pain. If you happen to be prescribed any of the ones listed below, keep in mind that they might cause joint pain in the future or be the cause of your current joint pain.

DPP-4 inhibitors are a type of medication known to cause joint pain. The medication helps the body control its own ​glucose levels. Here are the various brand names for this drug:

  • ​Januvia
  • Janumet
  • Janumet XR
  • Onglyza
  • Kombiglyze XR
  • Tradjenta
  • Glyxambi
  • Jentadueto
  • Nesina
  • Kazano
  • Oseni

Do not stop taking your DPP-4 inhibitor medicine without consulting a healthcare professional to assess the risk factors. If the joint pain is severe or persistent, you may be instructed to discontinue the medicine. Most importantly, you need a combination of medications that boost your overall health AND leave you feeling happy and healthy

Overcome Diabetes and Joint Pain with a Fitness and Health Plan Tailored to Your Needs

The Final Verdict: Can You Manage Diabetes and Joint Pain?

It goes without saying that diabetes and joint pain can be a huge struggle, especially if you enjoy exercising or bodybuilding with diabetes. Our main words of advice are to consult your doctor as soon as you start experiencing pain and to follow their recommendations carefully. If you are cleared to continue working out, share this information with family, friends, and your fitness coach of course. It’s best to address your joint pain before it gets worse or potentially becomes irreversible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does diabetes make your joints hurt?

Diabetes can heighten the chances of joint pain, but it won’t make your joints hurt. If you are overweight or suffering from muscle and bone damage as a result of diabetes, those conditions might cause your joints to hurt.

Is joint pain a sign of diabetes?

Joint pain is one of many signs of diabetes and not all diabetics experience it. If you have other symptoms alongside joint pain, it’s advisable to consult a doctor to rule out diabetes. Common symptoms include frequent urination, constant thirst and hunger, tiredness, blurred vision, tingling, and dry skin.

What is diabetic arthropathy?

Diabetic arthropathy, otherwise known as diabetic osteoarthropathy, is a range of musculoskeletal conditions associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It manifests in the form of joint pain, limited mobility, and skeletal muscle degeneration.

Can diabetes cause finger joint pain?

Diabetes can cause finger joint pain. Diabetics tend to have weakened muscles, ligaments, bones, and joints as a side effect of irregular blood sugar levels. This can result in the finger joints being painful.

Can diabetes cause joint pain in the hands?

Diabetes can cause joint pain in the hands and it’s typically referred to as diabetic hand syndrome. It will usually affect the small joints of the hands and leave your hands feeling stiff.

Can diabetes cause joint pain and swelling?

Diabetes can cause joint pain and swelling, but this doesn’t happen to everyone with the condition. It depends on whether you have developed weakness in the musculoskeletal system as a result of diabetes.

Can diabetes cause hip pain?

Symptoms of diabetes such as weakened muscles and bones can cause hip pain (diabetic polyradiculopathy). Diabetes hip joint pain is usually on one side of the body, but it can spread to the other.

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Diabetics often experience joint pain that hinders health and exercise routines. Here’s everything you need to know about diabetes and joint pain.

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