The Link Between Arthritis And Diabetes

Arthritis refers to a group of over 100 conditions which can affect any joint in the body. As well as the tell tale symptoms of arthritis (like joint pain, swelling and stiffness), people living with arthritis may also experience other symptoms or conditions. In this article, we explore diabetes as one condition that can have links or similarities with arthritis.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which our body is unable to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose comes from the breakdown of foods in our diet and is our body’s main source of energy.

To use glucose for energy, our body makes a hormone called insulin. However, in people with diabetes, the body either does not make this hormone, or does not respond to it. This leads to having too much glucose in the blood. If not managed, overtime this causes various health complications.

The most common types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. You can visit Diabetes Queensland for more information on the different types of diabetes, its risk factors and how to manage the condition.

The Link Between Diabetes and Arthritis

Although diabetes and arthritis are two separate conditions, having any form of arthritis can be linked with an increased risk of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Visit Diabetes NSW to learn more about risk factors and symptoms of diabetes, and speak with your doctor if you experience any symptoms.

Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis, for example rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and type 1 diabetes are both autoimmune conditions. These are conditions that occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks cells in our body. In rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints and surrounding tissues. In type 1 diabetes, it attacks the cells in our pancreas (where insulin is made).

Living with an autoimmune condition, can increase the risk of developing other autoimmune conditions. People living with inflammatory arthritis may also be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, due to high levels of inflammation which may cause resistance to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis

People living with type 2 diabetes may also be at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis (OA). Research suggests this could be due to both conditions having similar risk factors and being more common in people who may be older, over a healthy weight and physically inactive.

Living with arthritis and diabetes

As with arthritis, the way you manage your diabetes will depend on your individual situation.

It is important to speak with your doctor, and to assemble your healthcare team of specialists for expert advice and support on managing these conditions.

However, the good news is that there are healthy choices we can make that can have benefits, or reduce our risk of both conditions. These include:

  • Aiming to eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Regular physical activity
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking (if you smoke)

This article by Arthritis Foundation discusses some of the links between arthritis and diabetes and how you can lower your risk of diabetes when you have arthritis. Read the article here:

Arthritis Foundation is a USA based charity dedicated to supporting people with arthritis. Affiliate links to external organisations mentioned in the above article are USA-based organisations. For help with locating similar organisation in NSW, contact us on or (02) 9857 3300.