Type 1 diabetes is linked to a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal problems, including conditions like frozen shoulder and carpal tunnel syndrome, according to new research presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference (DUKPC) 2021.
As noted in a Yahoo! Sport (UK) article on the research and presentation, researchers at the University of Exeter in England based their findings on an analysis of data from the UK Biobank — one of the largest general health studies in the world — and from FinnGen, a similar large study based in Finland. They used both genetic information and health data to find out whether people with type 1 are at higher risk for a wide range of health conditions.
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Genetic data can be used to find out whether a person has genes that put them at higher risk for certain health conditions, without actually seeing who develops the condition. This technique can be useful when a study’s timeframe doesn’t allow researchers to see who develops conditions that can be years in the making, or when it may not be possible to track who develops certain health conditions. When possible, though, a study is typically considered stronger when it tracks actual diagnosed health conditions, assuming this data is available.
Type 1 linked to various musculoskeletal conditions
When people with type 1 were found to have a higher rate of a health condition based on data from the biobases, researchers used a statistical technique (called Mendelian randomization) to figure out whether type 1 was likely responsible for the outcome. They found that type 1 was likely to play a causal role in developing a range of musculoskeletal conditions, including frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger and Dupuytren’s contracture. Each of these conditions is marked by pain and reduced mobility in your shoulder, wrist, hand or fingers. They also found that type 1 was unlikely to play a causal role in developing osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis, in which joints degenerate).
This study is the first large-scale analysis to show that type 1 diabetes is responsible for a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal problems, along with more widely known diabetes complications like peripheral neuropathy, kidney disease, eye disease and cardiovascular problems. Now that this connection is known, the researchers noted, people with type 1 and their doctors can be on the lookout for musculoskeletal problems that may develop as a result of diabetes — especially longstanding or poorly controlled diabetes.
More research is needed, the researchers pointed out, to learn how diabetes and elevated blood glucose may contribute to the development of musculoskeletal problems. In the meantime, it’s a good bet that controlling your blood glucose levels will reduce your risk for this potential complication, as has been shown for practically all complications of diabetes.
Want to learn more about frozen shoulder? Read “Thawing Out That Frozen Shoulder.”