How Diabetes Affects Bone And Joint Health

Posted on November 14th, 2020 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group

Diabetes is a disease that affects an individual’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Our pancreas works to produce the hormone insulin, which helps glucose from the food you eat get into your cells and be used as energy. With type 1, the body produces little or no insulin and is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults. With type 2, the body produces insulin, but not enough to control blood glucose levels.

Individuals with either type of diabetes are at an increased risk and more vulnerable to developing various bone and joint disorders throughout their lifetime.  

Learn more about these bone and joint disorders, so you or the loved one in your life can be aware of how to protect themselves and be mindful of the warning signs: 


This disorder causes bones to become weak and less dense, leaving you much more prone to fracture or breaks. Individuals with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis in their lifetime. While this disease rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, eventually, the condition will progress, and you may notice your posture has worsened, you lose height, and you get a bone fracture or multiple. 

Ways to treat this condition include lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet consisting of calcium and vitamin D, non-weight bearing exercise, and taking supplements or medications recommended by a doctor.


This form of arthritis is a disorder characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage, and any joints in the body can be affected. Individuals with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, likely linked to obesity, which is common in those with type 2 diabetes. This condition may cause intense joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of flexibility or movement in the area.

Treatment for this condition involves exercising and maintaining a healthy weight and properly caring for the affected joints coupled with physical therapy, medications, and surgery if necessary.

Charcot Joint

Also known as neuropathic arthropathy, Charcot joint occurs when a joint starts to deteriorate due to nerve damage, which is also a common compilation for those with diabetes. This condition will primarily affect the feet. You may notice tingling, numbness, or a loss of sensation in the joints affected, and they can become warm, hot, and swollen leading to deformities. Even though the appearance might change, you may not experience any pain.

If the condition is detected early, the disease’s progression can be slowed but not stopped. It’s important to limit weight-bearing activities and utilize orthotic supports on the affected joints and the surrounding areas.

Diabetic Hand Syndrome

Also called diabetic cheiroarthropathy, diabetic hand syndrome is a disorder that will make hands appear to become waxy and thickened. Eventually, with this condition, finger movement can become limited. While this disorder’s exact cause is unknown, it’s common among people who have had diabetes for an extended part of their lives. 

Proper care and management of blood glucose levels and physical therapy can help slow this condition’s progress, but the limited mobility and effects may not be reversible.

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s essential to be aware of these conditions and pay close attention to your signs and symptoms. Take care of your bones and joints, and speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Orthopaedist in Fairfield County

It’s crucial to seek expert medical treatment if you are dealing with problems or pain associated with your bones or joints. Give the professionals at Orthopaedic Specialty group a call at (203) 337-2600 and let us know how we can help you! Don’t let that pain hold you back from living your life. Your health and safety is our top priority.