Management of limited joint mobility in diabetic patients

Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2013 May 7;6:197-207. doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S33943. Print 2013.


Several rheumatologic manifestations are more pronounced in subjects with diabetes, ie, frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tears, Dupuytren's contracture, trigger finger, cheiroarthropathy in the upper limb, and Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis in the lower limb. These conditions can limit the range of motion of the affected joint, thereby impairing function and ability to perform activities of daily living. This review provides a short description of diabetes-related joint diseases, the specific pathogenetic mechanisms involved, and the role of inflammation, overuse, and genetics, each of which activates a complex sequence of biochemical alterations. Diabetes is a causative factor in tendon diseases and amplifies the damage induced by other agents as well. According to an accepted hypothesis, damaged joint tissue in diabetes is caused by an excess of advanced glycation end products, which forms covalent cross-links within collagen fibers and alters their structure and function. Moreover, they interact with a variety of cell surface receptors, activating a number of effects, including pro-oxidant and proinflammatory events. Adiposity and advanced age, commonly associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, are further pathogenetic factors. Prevention and strict control of this metabolic disorder is essential, because it has been demonstrated that limited joint motion is related to duration of the disease and hyperglycemia. Several treatments are used in clinical practice, but their mechanisms of action are not completely understood, and their efficacy is also debated.

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; diabetic complication; joint mobility; tendon.