Diabetes is a chronic health condition that, if left untreated, affects numerous vital organs of the body, including heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and eyes. Not just that, diabetes is also known to severely affect and degrade your bone and muscle health. High blood sugar levels in the body weaken your musculoskeletal structure, making your bones more prone to twists and fractures. In fact, people suffering from diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) are seven times more prone to hip fractures than non-diabetic individuals.
Therefore, it becomes extremely important for diabetics to take very good care of their bone and muscle health to prevent all the musculoskeletal discomforts that their long-standing, uncontrolled diabetes may bring along.
How Diabetes Affects Bone Health?
Though bones seam to solid and unchanging, they are under constant flux. To keep our bones healthy, our body breaks down and absorbs old bone tissues and forms new ones instead. But in diabetes, the lack of insulin in the body may interfere in the formation of new bone tissues, leading to weak bones and muscles, and an increased risk of fracture.
High blood sugar levels in the blood may also leads to:
- Reduced release of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which promotes the growth of healthy bones and muscles
- Poor absorption of calcium in the body
- Increased oxidative stress
- Increased glycation
- Discharge of calcium in the urine
All these factors together weaken the nerves (diabetic neuropathy) as well as decrease the bone and muscle quality in the body, putting a diabetic person at an increased risk of fractures and various bone diseases.
Musculoskeletal Problems Caused by Diabetes
People with long-standing and/or uncontrolled diabetes are more prone to:
- Osteoporosis: Extreme weakening of the bones due to low bone mineral density
- Osteoarthritis: Wearing down of the cartilage – the protective covering of the joints
- Frozen shoulder: A decreased range of motion of the shoulder, often accompanied by pain and swelling
- Charcot joint: Also known as Neuropathic arthropathy. In this disease, there’s a severe degradation of joints and muscles due to diabetes-related nerve damage (neuropathy). It causes numbness in hands and feet as well as complete loss of sensation (if left untreated)
- Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis: Extreme pain and stiffness in the back or neck
- Diabetic hand syndrome: Thickening or hardening of the skin on the hands, making it difficult for a person to move fingers
Treatment and Management of Bone Health During Diabetes
Since diabetes can lead to the permanent damage and degradation of bones and tissues, leading to osteoporosis and other bone diseases, it becomes imperative for people suffering from diabetes to:
Keep their blood sugar levels under check
Diabetics should always try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. This can help them improve calcium absorption in the body as well as prevent complications like nerve damage, circulatory problems and muscle loss, which can otherwise lead to weakening of bones, significantly increasing their risk of bone related disorders.
Eat a healthy diet
Diabetes leads to reduced calcium absorption in the body. So, to ensure good bone health, people with diabetes must incorporate calcium and vitamin D (since it helps in calcium absorption) rich foods in their diet. From fruits to vegetables to nuts and low-fat dairy products, you must try to build your plate with foods that help in maintaining bone health. Diabetics must include milk, cheese, eggs, fish, nuts, legumes, and green leafy vegetables in their diet.
Inculcate regular exercise habits
Regular exercise can not only help diabetics reduce your HbA1c (average blood sugar) levels, it also improves your bone strength. Weight-bearing and strength training exercises – including walking, jogging, swimming, squatting, push-ups, pull-ups, and lifting weights are all good ways to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, increase stamina, improve bone density, and reduce the risk of diabetes-induced muscle disorders.
Modify their lifestyle
Unhealthy lifestyle practices, like smoking and drinking, put diabetics at an increased risk of bone loss. Smoking also reduces their body’s ability to absorb calcium from the food they eat, significantly increasing the risk of osteoporosis. So, to improve bone health, diabetics must put an end to their unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Get their bones tested, regularly
People with long-standing diabetes or uncontrolled diabetes must get their bone density test done at regular intervals. It can help them detect osteoporosis and other bone related issues much before it could affect their range of motion.
At EPIC Health, we offer complete bone screening to help diabetics maintain and improve their bone health and increase their range of motion. Our expert orthopedists provide comprehensive support to help detect and treat all your musculoskeletal problems that are being caused due to unmanaged glucose levels in your body. Through rigorous counseling, right nutritional support, and expert lifestyle modification, we, at EPIC, can improve your bone strength to help you live a healthier, disease-free life.
Schedule an appointment with our expert orthopaedists today!