Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis are two conditions often found to co-exist along with obesity and increasing age.1,2 There is a certain connection between both the conditions, and studies need to be done to understand whether treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes can help regulate and control the occurrence of osteoarthritis in individuals.1
The connection between arthritis and type-2 diabetes
There are several shared risk factors and behaviours that can cause both type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis. The two conditions are typically found among those with progressing age and obesity. Genetic predisposition and lifestyle choices such as smoking, unhealthy dietary habits, and inadequate physical activity are other factors that contribute to the occurrence of these conditions.2
Does diabetes increase the risk of osteoarthritis?
The chances of developing osteoarthritis in people with type 2 diabetes are much higher. Type 2 diabetes brings about changes in the body due to being exposed to high blood sugars and changes in the lipid metabolism. These can affect cartilage and bone health, resulting in the development or progression of osteoarthritis 3
Managing the conditions
Studies point to the fact that physical activity is essential for the management of both type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis. Adequate exercise can help regulate body weight, lower blood sugar levels and improve physical fitness and mobility, thus affecting disease progression and lowering your risk of complications of arthritis and diabetes. Another important step to managing these conditions is to take proper medication for disease management. Some studies indicate that certain medications for arthritis work towards reducing your risk of developing diabetes. Thus medications, exercise and adequate self-care can help you manage both conditions.2
Precautionary measures to follow in arthritis and type-2 diabetes
When managing two conditions that occur together, it is important to exercise certain cautions such as the following in order to avoid complications:3
- Always carry an ID that indicates your medical conditions.
- Manage your blood sugar levels well.
- Always carry a fast-acting carbohydrate with you in case sugar levels drop suddenly.
- Inspect your feet often.
- When taking insulin injections, keep rotating the injection site.
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear when exercising.
- Take fluids during and after exercise.
- Exercise in a cool environment – exposure to high temperatures can make the body prone to heat-induced conditions.
- Review your exercise program routinely and adjust as required.
- Avoid exercising if you experience pain in the joints or instability.
- Consult with a doctor if you experience symptoms like weakness or pain in the joints, disturbances in vision, muscular fatigue, hypertension, arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat or hypertension.
As we age, we develop certain conditions that we must embrace. However, when it comes to conditions like type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, we can learn to manage them to maintain a good quality of life.
- Veronese N, Cooper C, Reginster JY, Hochberg M, Branco J, Bruyère O, et al. Type 2 diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2019 Aug;49(1):9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2019.01.005.
- Arthritis Foundation. Inflammatory arthritis and diabetes: managing both [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/diabetes-and-arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis-diabetes-risk.php.
- Piva SR, Susko AM, Khoja SS, Josbeno DA, Fitzgerald GK, Toledo FGS. Links between osteoarthritis and diabetes: implications for management from a physical activity perspective. Clin Geriatr Med. 2015 Feb;31(1):67-87. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2014.08.019.