Diabetes stiffness is not uncommon. In fact, there is a number of ways that the term ‘stiffness’ can apply to diabetes. There is diabetes stiffness of the hands, diabetes stiffness, of the shoulder, and even stiffness of the arteries.  For the most part, however, diabetes stiffness concerns bone and joint problems which are affected by diabetes. So, let’s start there.

Diabetic hand syndrome is one of the conditions of diabetes in which diabetic stiffness may occur. In this disorder, which is also called cheiroarthropathy, the skin on the hands becomes waxy and thickens. Eventually, the movement of the fingers is limited. You likely have it if you are unable to extend your fingers all of the way or to press your palms together in a prayer-like manner. The progression of this condition can be slowed with good blood sugar control and physical therapy.

Osteoarthritis is another condition which is common among diabetics. It causes diabetes stiffness, as well as swelling and loss of flexibility or movement. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. It is more common in the obese. Exercising and maintaining a good weight is both how the condition is treated or prevented. Once diagnosed, you will be asked to care for and rest the affected joints and given medications for pain. Sometimes surgery is needed.

Diabetes is one of the risk factors for a condition called frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder is a condition in which pain becomes progressively worse and the stiffness in the joint eventually causes immobility in the shoulder. It is still uncertain why this condition seems to occur with diabetes so often. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), it may be due to glucose molecules attaching to collagen. This condition can be treated with physical therapy, although this is quite painful. Early diagnosis is very important.


Muscular Diabetes Stiffness


Muscular diabetes stiffness is caused by a combination of unused sugar and proteins which bind in the proteins of the muscles. Any type of muscle can be affected in this way, including our heart and our artery muscles. Muscle diabetes stiffness can usually be avoided by staying active, losing weight, and exercising more.

A severe form of diabetes stiffness which involves the muscles is stiff person syndrome. Stiff person syndrome is a nerve disorder that is associated with a wide range of neurologic diseases. Some non-neurologic disease such as diabetes mellitus and thyroiditis are associated with stiff person syndrome as well. It is characterized by a muscle rigidity that waxes and wanes with concurrent spasms, according to MedScape.com.

In the early stages of the disease, patients complain of back discomfort or stiffness or pain in the entire back, which worsens in times of tension or stress. Sleep is often disturbed and patients report brief episodes of dramatic or severe worsening which resolve spontaneously within hours or days. In the later stages limb muscles begin to be involved. Patients will begin to move very slowly because rapid movement induces spasms.Finally, in the end stages few muscles are spared. Joint muscles may deform and skeletal fractures and muscle ruptures may occur during spasms.