Background: One of the lesser recognized complications of diabetes mellitus are musculoskeletal (MSK) complications of the upper and lower extremity. No prevalence studies have been conducted in general practice. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of upper extremity MSK disorders in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) in the Netherlands. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study with two different approaches, namely a representative Dutch primary care medical database study and a questionnaire study among patients with T2DM. Results: In the database study, 2669 patients with T2DM and 2669 non-diabetes patients were included. MSK disorders were observed in 16.3% of patients with T2DM compared to 11.2% of non-diabetes patients (p < 0.001, OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.31, 1.80). In the questionnaire study, 200 patients with T2DM were included who reported a lifetime prevalence of painful upper extremity body sites for at least four weeks of 67.3%. Conclusion: We found that upper extremity MSK disorders have a high prevalence in Dutch patients with T2DM presenting in general practice. The prevalence ranges from 16% based on GP registered disorders and complaints to 67% based on self-reported diagnosis and pain. Early detection and treatment of these disorders may play a role in preventing the development of chronic MSK disorders.
Keywords: diabetes complication; musculoskeletal disorders; prevalence; type 2 diabetes.