Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Joint Pain and Stiffness

Aches and pains may seem like just another part of growing older, but stiffness and pain in your joints might have another cause. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, diabetes can affect the musculoskeletal system, which includes the tendons, ligaments, and joints, as well as bones and muscles. For example, more than half of people who have diabetes also have arthritis, a term that describes over 100 conditions that are caused by inflammation of the joints and connective tissues.

Arthritis and other joint problems aren’t inevitable, though. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, can be prevented or delayed with a lot of the same lifestyle measures you can use to treat your diabetes, including keeping physically active and losing excess weight to ease pressure on vulnerable joints. If you’ve already noticed stiffness and pain in your joints, there are a number of treatment options available to you. The following resources offer information on both how to prevent joint pain and stiffness and how to live well if you’re already dealing with a musculoskeletal condition.

Joseph A. Abboud, MD, and Soo Kim Abboud, MD
Yale University Press
New Haven, Connecticut, 2008
This book has two parts. The first focuses on the locations where joint pain most commonly occurs, such as the back, the hips, the elbows, and the wrists, and describes the various conditions that can cause pain there. The second part addresses methods of treatment, with chapters on both conventional and alternative therapies and an epilogue on the future of joint pain treatment.

Gene Hunter, MD
Mayo Clinic Health Solutions
Rochester, Minnesota, 2006
This guide focuses on improving the well-being of people with arthritis and other joint conditions. Topics the book covers include pain management, increasing mobility, and how to keep your joints as healthy as possible. Mayo Clinic also publishes the Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief, which further addresses pain management for people living with conditions that cause chronic joint pain.

Kate Lorig, RN, DrPH, and James F. Fries, MD
Da Capo Press
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006
This book is aimed at everyone with arthritis or a related condition but is especially intended for people who have only recently been diagnosed. It encourages people to develop a long-term self-care plan for living with arthritis and chronic joint pain, including ways to address the mental and emotional consequences of chronic illness.

Editors of Harvard Health Publications and Robert Shmerling, MD
Harvard Medical School
Boston, 2009
This Special Health Report, from Harvard Medical School, aims to dispel the notions that arthritis is an inevitable part of aging and that arthritis is a single illness, instead of a large group of related conditions. The report focuses on understanding and recognizing symptoms of the various types of arthritis to best treat them. Both this report and the related Joint Pain Relief Workout, comprised of four different workout plans designed to ease joint pain and stiffness, are available in print or PDF form at www.health.harvard.edu/special_health_reports.

Marilyn Moffat, PT, PhD, FAPTA, and Steve Vickery
Round Stone Press, Inc.
Ontario, Canada, 1999
This book covers the care of all parts of the musculoskeletal system and includes chapters that specifically target joints, including the shoulders, hips, and knees, with exercises devoted to each area. It includes medical information, self-care tips on exercise and fitness, and information on preventing injuries, with a focus on how to perform everyday activities (working at a desk, doing the laundry) in ways that cause the least possible stress on joints and muscles.

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