Overstretched or fatigued muscles, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle usually cause diabetic back pain, although there are others factors specific to diabetic patients. In a study done by Sarah Krein, PhD, RN, 60% of patients (1,000 diabetic subjects) suffered from chronic pain mostly in their back, hip, and knee. Most patients said that the pain was interfering with their daily lives and treatment of diabetes, including regular exercise and eating properly, and 78% of subjects reported taking some form of painkiller. The trend among subjects was that overweight young women using insulin reported the highest incidence of chronic pain. Extending beyond the physical, there was an increased incidence of depression amongst the subjects as well with nearly half showing symptoms compared to 20% in a pain-free group. Social isolation is a common side effect of this form of depression as well.


Focal Neuropathy and Diabetic Back Pain


In diabetics back pain can be caused by diabetic neuropathy. Focal neuropathy (mononeuropathy) refers to the affliction of specific nerves of the head, eyes, and trunk and is most common amongst older populations. Painful and unpredictable, focal neuropathy goes away on its own within weeks or months and does not usually cause long-term damage. Sometimes focal neuropathy is caused by nerve entrapment or compression. Sensory (afferent) nerves send information from the body to the brain and are responsible for registering pain. A “pinched” nerve is indicative of damage caused by compression or entrapment. In diabetics inflammation of the nerves caused by an autoimmune attack can increase the risk of pinched nerves and/or focal neuropathy. Other sources of back pain may be a herniated disk, arthritis, bone spurs, sciatica, or spinal stenosis.


Prevention of Diabetic Back Pain


Back pain is related to the “core” muscles of the body, the abdominal muscles, psoas muscles, and quadratus lumborum. These muscles are responsible for movement related to the trunk of the body and legs as well as posture – a key element in alleviating back pain. For individuals starting a new exercise routine specifically related to the core, a stability ball is a good tool in order to strengthen as well as stretch the muscles of the midsection. Activities such as swimming, walking, or cycling are great as they are low impact but also strengthen back muscles and aid in weight loss. Prevention of diabetic neuropathy includes keeping blood pressure and blood glucose within a healthy range. There are several alternative medicines that can relieve the symptoms of diabetic back pain. Acupuncture is pain free and doesn’t have any side effects. For most patients results will be felt after several sessions.