Musculoskeletal complications in type 1 diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2014 Jul;37(7):1863-9. doi: 10.2337/dc13-2361. Epub 2014 Apr 10.


Objective: The development of periarticular thickening of skin on the hands and limited joint mobility (cheiroarthropathy) is associated with diabetes and can lead to significant disability. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of cheiroarthropathy in the well-characterized Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC) cohort and examine associated risk factors, microvascular complications, and the effect of former DCCT therapy (intensive [INT] vs. conventional [CONV]) on its development.

Research design and methods: This cross-sectional analysis was performed in 1,217 participants (95% of the active cohort) in EDIC years 18/19 after an average of 24 years of follow-up. Cheiroarthropathy-defined as the presence of any one of the following: adhesive capsulitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, flexor tenosynovitis, Dupuytren's contracture, or a positive prayer sign-was assessed using a targeted medical history and standardized physical examination. A self-administered questionnaire (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand [DASH]) assessed functional disability.

Results: Cheiroarthropathy was present in 66% of subjects (64% of the INT group and 68% of the CONV group; P = 0.1640) and was associated with age, sex, diabetes duration, skin intrinsic fluorescence, HbA1c, neuropathy, and retinopathy (P < 0.005 for each). DASH functional disability scores were worse among subjects with cheiroarthropathy (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Cheiroarthropathy is common in people with type 1 diabetes of long duration (∼30 years) and is related to longer duration and higher levels of glycemia. Clinicians should include cheiroarthropathy in their routine history and physical examination of patients with type 1 diabetes because it causes clinically significant functional disability.

Trial registration: NCT00360815 NCT00360893.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / epidemiology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Joint Diseases / etiology
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose

Associated data