Feature Article

Musculoskeletal disorders in diabetes mellitus

Simon Burnet, Julian McNeil



Diabetes mellitus and rheumatic complaints are common disorders encountered and managed by GPs. However, some musculoskeletal conditions are more frequent in patients with diabetes, and their concomitant presentation raises unique diagnostic and therapeutic challenges because of the setting of hyperglycaemia.

Key Points

  • As the population ages, rheumatic complaints in patients with diabetes will increase.
  • Diabetic neuroarthropathy and amyotrophy are clearly related to diabetes. Some other conditions, such as adhesive capsulitis and hand syndromes, are seen more frequently in patients with diabetes.
  • Optimising control of diabetes and using individualised physical therapy programs are often the cornerstone of management of musculoskeletal disorders in patients with diabetes.
  • Careful attention to blood sugar control is required in those patients with diabetes for whom corticosteroids are prescribed.
  • An enhanced knowledge of rheumatic conditions associated with diabetes mellitus reinforces the optimisation of an individual patient’s glycaemic control.