People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to suffer from arthritis and osteoporosis, suggest a new study from Denmark that shows a clear link between the two conditions.
The research, which looked at data on more than 109,000 people, found those with diabetes were 33% more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis and 70% more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis than people without diabetes.
“Healthcare professionals should make patients aware that exercise is a recognised treatment for diabetes and arthritis”
The risk of having osteoporosis was also 29% higher among individuals with diabetes compared with diabetes-free peers.
Previous research has shown people with type 2 diabetes report higher levels of musculoskeletal pain such as back and neck ache.
But it was not clear whether this was down to increased levels of arthritis among this group.
Researchers from Nordsjaellands University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark examined records for more than 109,200 aged 40 years and above from the 2013 Danish National Health Survey in an attempt to explore the link.
They found a particularly strong association between rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes and suggest this could be due to the chronic inflammation present in the two diseases.
The link could also be down to medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, they suggest.
“Whilst steroids are used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, steroids also increase the risk of the development of type 2 diabetes,” according to the findings.
They were presented as a poster this week at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Berlin.
The results showed people with diabetes were 27% more likely to report suffering back pain and 29% more likely to have shoulder or neck pain than people who did not have diabetes.
Further analysis revealed that the more physically active people with diabetes were, the lower their risk of back and neck pain.
The researchers suggest pain experienced by people with arthritis may make them less active, increasing their risk of type 2 diabetes.
“It is likely that the chronic pain experienced by people with arthritis may be a barrier to exercising, which is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes,” said study author Stig Molsted, from Nordsjaellands University Hospital.
He added: “Healthcare professionals should make patients with diabetes aware that exercise is a recognised treatment for diabetes and arthritis and can have positive effects on both blood sugar control and well as musculoskeletal pain.”