According to researchers from the University of Sydney, people with diabetes have a 35 percent risk of experiencing chronic pain in the back along with a 24% higher risk of having neck pain as compared to their non-diabetic cohorts. The article was originally published in the journal Plus One and cited in the February 2019 issue of the Integrative Practioner by Katherine Rushlau, CPT. The researchers conducted an 8 study Meta-analysis before drawing their conclusions.
However, data on whether there is a causal relationship between diabetes itself and musculoskeletal pain or whether the case involves one of the common risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity, are lacking, say the researchers. Diabetes and low back pain and neck pain seem to be somehow connected. Also, diabetes and low back pain have a strong relationship with obesity and lack of physical activity, so a logical progression of this research might be to examine these factors in more detail.
The researchers note that people with diabetes are more likely to present with chronic somatic pain, including neuropathic pain, but the link between musculoskeletal pain and diabetes remains unclear. Furthermore, they suggested that weight control along with the maintenance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle may play an important role in offsetting these comorbidities. The paper also suggested that patients who present with neck or lower back pain be screened for diabetes mellitus when embarking on the treatment of these conditions.
It is important that patients and healthcare professionals emphasize the role of exercise and healthy lifestyle behavior for treating chronic pain.