New study shows link between diabetes and back pain

Photo (c) Cecile Arcurs - Getty Images

Researchers suggest that diet could be at the root of the issue

Diabetes sufferers are often bombarded with symptoms and treatments, though based on a new study, those symptoms may go beyond just managing blood sugar.

Researchers from the University of Sydney found that for many people with diabetes, back and neck pain is incredibly common.

“Diabetes and low back pain seem to be somehow connected,” said researcher Manuela Ferreira. “We can’t say how, but these findings suggest further research into the link is warranted.”

A widespread issue

Ferreira and her team evaluated previous studies that have explored the connection between neck and back pain and diabetes to see how the relationship has evolved and continues to plague people.

Based on the studies they explored, the researchers found that diabetes sufferers are at a 35 percent higher risk of having back pain and a 24 percent higher risk of having neck pain when compared with those who don’t have diabetes.

Armed with this information, the researchers suggest that physicians explore how diabetes medications may be affecting patients’ body pain, as well as how weight and physical activity could play a role.

“Type 2 diabetes and low back pain both have a strong relationship with obesity and lack of physical activity, so a logical progression of this research might be to examine these factors in more detail,” Ferreira said. “Our analysis adds to the evidence that weight control and physical activity play fundamental roles in health maintenance.”

Though the researchers did not identify a causal relationship between back/neck pain and diabetes, they do encourage healthcare providers to consider the findings when treating patients in the future.

“Neck and back pain, and diabetes, are afflicting more and more people,” said researcher Paulo Ferreira. “It’s worth committing more resources to investigate their interrelationship. It may be that altering treatment interventions for diabetes could reduce the incidence of back pain, and vice versa.”

Back pain is serious business

Two recent studies have shown how back pain could potentially be fatal. Researchers from Boston Medical Center found that older women with persistent back pain are at increased risk for early death These consumers are treated for back pain more often than men, and the pain can often impede day-to-day activities.

“Back pain may directly impair daily activities, but older adults could inappropriately avoid them due to fear of re-injury or worsening of symptoms,” said lead researcher Eric Rosen. “Being unable to perform, or avoid, daily activities could lead to weight gain, development, or progression of other chronic health conditions, and ultimately earlier death.”

Another study conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney found that back pain -- for anyone -- can increase the risk of death from any cause. Researchers urge consumers to see their healthcare provider should back pain become consistent, as many tend to think the pain isn’t cause for concern.

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