Is Diabetes Associated With Back Pain?

Manuela L. Ferreira conducted a new study at the University of Sydney on types of pain experienced by those who have diabetes. The study did not distinguish between those who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Many studies have already shown a direct link between different types of chronic pain and diabetes (among other impairments and serious conditions), but Ferreira attempted to maintain a focus on different types of pain by aggregating data from many other studies while conducting her own.

Data was pulled from at least 11 other scientific studies using diabetes patients over the age of 18. The study found a potential link between back pain and diabetes, but noted that some patients also suffered from obesity — which also increases the risk of back pain. 

Ferreira admitted that further research must be done to locate the exact cause of the pain, but suggested future studies look into medications. In particular, insulin can alter blood flow and lead to changes in muscle mass. These changes could lead to back pain.

Diabetes itself results in increased stress, which cycles around to manifest in more symptoms of diabetes, and then even more stress. Those suffering from chronic pain are advised to seek back pain treatment and consult with a diabetes educator to determine the best treatment plan.

There are a number of ways you might alleviate or reduce these symptoms:

Professional trainer Laurel Dierking wrote: “Sedentary lifestyles, poor posture, previous untreated injuries and anatomically misaligned chairs at work, home or in the car can all be contributors to chronic compression of the spine, which invites chronic pain into our lives.”

We recommend frequent stretching. Take care to stand and stretch after long periods of sitting. When work prevents standing, try to increase your range of motion or stretch in position. Keeping physically active will not only alleviate symptoms of diabetes, but it will also help keep your heart and brain healthy!

It’s also important to take steps to reduce stress, which can manifest with chronic pain or other physical symptoms. This can involve breathing exercises, activity, meditation, or even therapy! 

Many diabetics also have little control over the disease — which increases the chance of stress and other symptoms. Make education a priority. Maintain a healthy diet and sufficient exercise to coordinate better outcomes. With better control, a patient will have lower blood pressure, less neuropathy, and better glucose control.

Look for less damaging vices. Don’t drink or smoke. Both can result in chronic pain. 

Distraction can also help patients manage symptoms. That might mean simple entertainment for some people, but we recommend going outside, running errands, or meeting with friends to keep you active and distracted for maximum effect.

When nothing else works, try the opposite: focus on what hurts! Toni Bernhard wrote in Psychology Today: “Focus on the sensations that make up the pain. Is there burning? Is there throbbing? Is there tingling? Does the pain get more intense and then less intense? This separating out of the sensations is called ‘sensory splitting.’ What you’ve been thinking of as a permanent solid block of pain is really many different constantly changing sensations.”