Diabetes

Diabetic Frozen Shoulder. An Explanation of The Frozen Shoulder - Diabetes Connection?


Diabetic frozen shoulder is a major problem. The pain and limited function that it causes can seriously limit the normal activities of day-to-day life. Frozen shoulder is much more common in diabetic patients and this article aims to explore the nature of the Frozen Shoulder - Diabetes connection.

There are many ways that diabetes can affect the muscles and joints. Sugar sticks to the collagen in cells and affects its ability to function. Diabetes can damage blood vessels and a poor blood supply results in scarring and damage in the body's elastic tissues.

We know that some diabetic patients can have problems with changes in the gristle of their hands - and in men, the penis. Most experts think that diabetic frozen shoulder arises for the same reasons

Diabetes is known to affect the shoulder in several ways. Diabetic frozen shoulder seems to be the commonest - with up to 20% of diabetic patients developing frozen shoulder at some time or other.

Calcium spots in the tendons and muscle around the shoulder are also seen more commonly in diabetic patients - this probably relates to the fact that high blood sugars can impair blood flow through small vessels. Tendons are particularly vulnerable to this and respond by depositing calcium. These calcium deposits can sometimes be painless but often cause severe discomfort or limited movement. They usually show up on x-rays.

Slow healing and impaired nerve function are also common in diabetic patients and contribute to the fact that the frozen shoulder pain takes longer to settle than it does in other, non diabetic, patients.

Diabetic patients are much more likely to have problems with their shoulders than others. Insulin dependant diabetics are particularly at risk - with some studies showing that they are six times more likely to develop diabetic frozen shoulder than the rest of the population.

We don't yet really know why diabetic frozen shoulder problems arise but it seems to relate in part to how well each individual controls their blood sugar levels.

Textbooks tell you that all shoulder complaints are more common in diabetes but in my experience diabetic frozen shoulder is the most troublesome and most frequent. Diabetics not only get frozen shoulder more often than others but it lasts longer and is more painful for them when they do.

Some experts think that shoulder problems in diabetics are so common that they should be regarded as a complication of diabetes and not a coincidental event.

There has been a lot of research recently into the frozen shoulder - diabetes link but it is still rather unclear why diabetic patients get such problems with their shoulders. It seems to relate to the effect that diabetes and a high blood sugar has on the collagen containing cells in the body. Collagen is a protein that is involved in making ligaments, tendons and - of course - joint capsules.

Diabetic frozen shoulder eventually resolves itself in most cases but can cause a major problem with day to day function for those unlucky enough to suffer from it.

Dr Gordon Cameron is a specialist in joint pain based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is an expert in frozen shoulder treatment and in arthritis pain relief.

Dr Cameron also specialises in the treatment of gout

Dr Cameron has also created an electronic book on the subject of frozen shoulder. You can explore it and download a copy on his website by following the links to Frozen Shoulder above.


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