Bone and joint problems associated with diabetes

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Introduction

If you have diabetes, you're at increased risk of various bone and joint disorders. Factors such as nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), arterial disease and obesity may contribute to these problems — but often the cause isn't clear.

Click on the tabs to the left to learn more about various bone and joint disorders, including symptoms and treatment options.

Charcot joint

Charcot joint

What is it?
Charcot (shahr-KO) joint, also called neuropathic arthropathy, occurs when a joint deteriorates because of nerve damage — a common complication of diabetes. Charcot joint primarily affects the feet.

What are the symptoms?
You might have numbness and tingling or loss of sensation in the affected joints. They may become unstable, swollen or deformed.

How is it treated?
If detected early, progression of the disease can be slowed. Limiting weightbearing activities and use of orthotic supports to the affected joint and surrounding structures can help.

Diabetic hand syndrome

Diabetic hand syndrome

What is it?
Diabetic hand syndrome, also called cheiroarthropathy, is a disorder in which the skin on the hands becomes waxy and thickened. Eventually finger movement is limited. What causes diabetic hand syndrome isn't known. It's most common in people who have a long history of diabetes.

What are the symptoms?
You may be unable to fully extend your fingers or to press your palms together flat.

How is it treated?
Better management of blood glucose levels and physical therapy can slow the progress of this condition.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

What is it?
Osteoporosis is a disorder that causes bones to become weak and prone to fracture. People who have type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

What are the symptoms?
Osteoporosis rarely causes symptoms in the early stages. Eventually you may experience loss of height, stooped posture or bone fractures.

How is it treated?
A healthy lifestyle, including exercise and eating a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D — including supplements if needed — are the best ways to address this condition.

Apr. 19, 2011 See more In-depth