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Chronic Condition News

November 2013

People with Diabetes Often Have Arthritis, Too

You may have no trouble walking, taking a shower, or even changing clothes. But for people with diabetes or arthritis, these simple daily activities can become hard to do — even more so if they suffer from both conditions. A recent study found it's not uncommon for people to have this disabling duo.

A crippling connection

In a recent study in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers analyzed three years' worth of data from an annual national health survey. They focused on questions related to diabetes and arthritis. They discovered that nearly half of people with diabetes also had arthritis. What's more, a majority of those with diabetes reported having problems with daily activities because of arthritis symptoms.

What links these two distinct diseases? The answer may be related to why they develop in the first place. For instance, people with type 2 diabetes and arthritis tend to be older. Osteoarthritis results from the gradual wear and tear of joints over time. As we age, we also lose muscle and gain fat; we generally don't move as much either. Type 2 diabetes plagues people who are overweight and less active.

Being overweight or obese also stresses a person's joints. Plus, it affects how well the body absorbs glucose, a natural sugar made by the body as it breaks down food for energy. Too much glucose in your blood can lead to diabetes.

One recent study points to another theory: Diabetes may actually be an avenue to arthritis. Investigators followed the health of nearly 1,000 adults for 20 years. After factoring out age and weight, researchers found that those with type 2 diabetes were prone to osteoarthritis. In particular, they were two times as likely to suffer from severe cases of the joint condition, requiring a hip or knee replacement.  

An enabling exercise

People with diabetes are at least 50 percent more likely to develop a disability in their lifetime. Add in arthritis, and the problem may only worsen. Why? A lack of physical activity. People with diabetes or arthritis are less physically active than those without either condition. But nearly one-third of those with both diseases don't exercise at all.

Physical activity is a valuable tool in preventing problems from both arthritis and diabetes. Exercise can help people with arthritis by reducing joint pain. It also keeps joints flexible and improves overall range of motion. Some of the best activities for arthritis include walking, biking, and swimming.

For those with diabetes, physical activity can help keep blood sugar levels under control. It can also prevent diabetes complications, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Of note, too: Exercising regularly can help people with type 2 diabetes maintain a healthy weight. That can make it easier to manage the disease.


Want to better control your diabetes and arthritis? Exercise! Click here for some fitness tips. 


Online resources

Arthritis Foundation





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