Bone and joint problems associated with diabetes

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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

Charcot joint

What is it?

Charcot (shahr-KOH) 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 weight-bearing activities and use of orthotic supports to the affected joint and surrounding structures can help.

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 had diabetes for a long time.

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

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, when the disease is more advanced, you may experience loss of height, stooped posture or bone fractures.

How is it treated?

A healthy lifestyle, including weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, and eating a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D — including supplements if needed — are the best ways to address this condition.

May. 13, 2014 See more In-depth