The Arthritis-Diabetes Connection

Osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis may share symptoms, but they are very different diseases. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints, and is usually found in older people.

Inflammatory arthritis refers to a group of autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks the body’s joints, and can occur at any age. Inflammatory arthritis diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, with rheumatoid arthritis being the most common.

(Want to know more about the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? See our blog post, here.)

Surprisingly, though both types of arthritis are different from each other, they are both associated with type II diabetes. Nearly 50% of people with type II diabetes have arthritis, and 16% of people with arthritis have type II diabetes.

How do two different diseases, inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis, both have a connection with diabetes, a third, completely different, disease?
Interestingly, each type of arthritis seems to be related to diabetes in a different way.

Inflammatory Arthritis and Diabetes

People who suffer from the inflammatory arthritis diseases typically have high blood levels of pro-inflammatory proteins, like interleukin-6, and markers for inflammation, like c-reactive protein.

These inflammatory molecules are also connected to type II diabetes.
Although the evidence is not definite, current medical knowledge finds that inflammation is one of the causes of insulin resistance, a condition in which the body does not respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Insulin resistance is a common feature of prediabetes, a stepping-stone to full-blown type II diabetes.

Also, some of the medications for inflammatory arthritis, especially corticosteroids, actually raise blood sugar levels, making type II diabetes even more likely. New treatments for inflammatory arthritis are replacing these medications, however; allowing those suffering from inflammatory arthritis to more easily avoid this risk factor.

Osteoarthritis and Diabetes

While the connection between osteoarthritis and diabetes is definite, the precise mechanism is not as clear.

As an American College of Rheumatology study showed, people with osteoarthritis in their hip or knee were significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those without osteoarthritis.

The study suggested that since osteoarthritis makes it painful to engage in physical activity — even in activity as light as walking — those who suffer from osteoarthritis are less physically active.

As a result, many people with osteoarthritis become overweight. Maintaining a normal weight and being physically active both have positive effects on the regulation of blood glucose levels. When a person is overweight and inactive, the stage is set for type II diabetes. Simply being overweight, in fact, is the greatest risk factor for type II diabetes.

At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we are experts in managing chronic conditions. Our staff of physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and nutritionists work together to make sure that all our residents receive the care they need to prevent their conditions from multiplying, and to maximize their enjoyment of life.

We offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence — and always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

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Regency Nursing Centers has a well deserved reputation for excellence in healthcare and I'm extremely proud of our achievements! Thanks for reading our Regency Blog!
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