Diabetes and Common Musculoskeletal Conditions

Exercise is a key lifestyle management strategy for people with Type 2 Diabetes. Low activity levels can lead to a decrease in strength and flexibility and an increase in weight gain. However, it can be difficult to get moving when you are in pain, and unfortunately, people with Type 2 Diabetes are at an increased risk for a number of musculoskeletal conditions. Here are some common conditions: 

Frozen Shoulder: Frozen shoulder (also known as adhesive capsulitis) results in restricted movement of the shoulder joint and severe pain. It commonly affects both shoulders, and is 5x more likely to occur in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Inflammation, chemical mediators and collagen accumulate in the tissues surrounding the shoulder joint, resulting in a thickening of the joint capsule which leads to reduced mobility. Management of frozen shoulder includes gentle exercises designed to regain mobility. 

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is characterized by a loss of joint cartilage and inflammation in the joint. Along with Type 2 Diabetes, increased body weight is a risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis. Bone spurs develop in the joint due to the thickening of the bone, which leads to a narrowing of joint space and a loss of shock absorption. Aggravating activities include running, jumping, dancing and walking. Gentle, low-impact activities are encouraged to help flush inflammation from the joint and maintain strength and mobility. Osteoarthritis commonly develops in the hip and knee joints. 

Tendinopathies: People with Type 2 Diabetes are at least 3x more likely to develop tendonitis and tendinosis. The accumulation of microtears from tendon overloading results in tendon injury. Unlike muscles, tendons have a very low blood supply and therefore a reduced ability to heal. Risk factors include tendon thickening associated with Type 2 Diabetes and the length of time of having Type 2 Diabetes. Management involves increasing the tensile strength of the tendon through exercise along with therapeutic modalities such as laser therapy. 

Diabetic Symmetrical Polyneuropathy: Diabetic symmetrical polyneuropathy (DSPN) is one of the most common long-term conditions associated with Type 2 Diabetes, affecting up to 50% of people. Symptoms include chronic burning, tingling and shooting pains, commonly in the lower extremities. People with DSPN also have an increased risk of foot injuries due to the accompanying progressive sensor loss of the foot and lower limb. 

Pain has an adverse impact on everyday life, leading to sleep disturbances, fatigue, a lack of independence and reduced physical activity levels. Fortunately, an Athletic Therapist can help screen for these conditions and create a plan for prevention, management and rehabilitation of these conditions. Contact me today to see how I can help get you moving! Call/text 403.229.0129 or email me here.

Crystal Bartkowski
Athletic Therapy

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