Objectives: To study the prevalence of hand abnormalities in diabetic patients and to evaluate associations between the hand abnormalities and diabetic variables, ergonomic factors and smoking habits.
Design: Cross-sectional study of 100 patients selected at random. Setting. Out-patient clinic, Department of Internal Medicine, Orebro Medical Centre Hospital in Sweden.
Main outcome measures: Presence and extent of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), Dupuytren's contracture (DC), flexor tenosynovitis (FTS), and limited joint mobility (LJM). Duration of diabetes, metabolic control, chronic diabetic complications, blood pressure, ergonomic factors and smoking habits.
Results: Carpal tunnel syndrome, DC, FTS and LJM were each present in about 20% of the patients. Hand abnormalities were observed in 50 patients and more than one abnormality was found in 26 of the patients. The hand abnormalities were associated with the duration of diabetes but not with the metabolic control or with other diabetic complications. However, the diabetic complications were associated with bad metabolic control and with the duration of diabetes. Hand abnormalities correlated with heavy manual work but not with smoking habits. Twenty-five of the 50 patients with hand syndromes were disabled to such an extent that surgery was recommended.
Conclusion: The prevalence of hand abnormalities in diabetic patients is high and increases with the duration of diabetes. In many cases patients with hand abnormalities can be helped by surgery.