An analysis of five studies involving 131,431 people reported that diabetes was associated with a 35% higher likelihood of reporting back pain, while two studies showed 24% from 6,560 people were at risk of neck pain. However, the only study that followed their subjects over time found no connection between diabetes and back or neck pain, suggesting that other factors may account for increased reports of back pain in diabetics (people with diabetes).
Manuela Ferreira of the University of Sydney in Australia, a senior author of the overall study, acknowledged that “obesity and physical inactivity are risk factors for both conditions so it is likely that they underlie that link.” He added, “Keeping normal blood sugar levels, managing body weight and most importantly keeping physically active are key in managing and preventing this combination of chronic diseases.”
Ferreira and his fellow researchers looked at diabetics with both types of diabetes, both of them chronic illnesses that affect the body’s blood sugar management. Type 2, the more common form, is associated with obesity and aging (when the body can no longer properly make enough insulin to convert blood sugar into energy; the lesser common Type 1 develops during one’s youth, and occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin at all.
The data showed that one in two people will experience spinal pain at some point in their lives. Across 11 different studies in six countries that looked at back pain in any form, none were able to find a connection between diabetes and back pain. The studies were not to prove that diabetes did cause spinal pain, though smaller studies varied in their definitions of pain and the context in which diabetics reported their pain.
Dr. Ahmed Hassoon, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore who wasn’t involved in the study, still finds it likely that obesity contributes to both diabetes and back pain. Diabetics may be obese or overweight, having complications that impair how blood vessels and nerves function. Meanwhile, adding more weight beyond the spine’s capacity will cause it to destabilize.
Both these issues, especially with an unstable spine and a lack of activity, can compromise spinal health and contribute to back pain. “Long-term uncontrolled diabetes has negative impact on our blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and bone – which, in turn, can generate all kinds of musculoskeletal symptoms, like chronic pain,” ended Hassoon.
Story from Reuters