Diabetes type 2: High blood sugar causes arthritis-like symptoms called cheiroarthropathy

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition which affects a person’s body by how they utilise glucose (sugar). This occurs when the body either doesn’t respond normally to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood sugar levels. Skin problems are often the first visible signs of the condition including a certain arthritis-type warning.

Diabetic cheiroarthropathy, also known as Diabetic stiff hand syndrome or limited joint mobility syndrome.

It is a cutaneous condition characterised by waxy, thickened skin and limited joint mobility of the hands and fingers.

The disorder is known to affect finger movement as the hands become waxy and thickened.

Diabetic stiff hand syndrome is characterised by the inability to strengthen joints in the hand, said Diabetes.co.uk

The health site added: “As a result, hand function can be severely limited.

“Affected patients find stiffness begins in the little finger and spreads to the thumb.

“Eventually, this stiffness can prevent people bringing all of the fingers together completely upon holding their palms together.”

In a study published in the National Library of Health, skin manifestations from diabetes mellitus were analysed.

The study noted: “Limited Joint Mobility (LJM), also known as diabetic cheiroarthropathy, is a relatively common complication of long-standing diabetes mellitus.

“LJM presents with progressive flexed contractures and hindered joint extension, most commonly involving the metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints of the hand.

“The earliest changes often begin in the joints of the fifth finger before then spreading to involve the other joints of the hand.

“Patients may present with an inability to flushly press the palmar surfaces of each of their hands together (“prayer sign”) or against the surface of a table when their forearms are perpendicular to the surface of the table (‘tabletop sign’).

“These changes occur as a result of periarticular enlargement of connective tissue.

“Patients with LJM may also be at increased risk for falls.

“LJM is best managed with improved glycaemic control, as well as regular stretching to maintain and minimize further limitations in joint mobility.”

Multiple factors are thought to be related to the underlying cause of diabetic stiff hand syndrome.

A typical technique for diagnosing diabetic stiff hand syndrome is to hold your hands together, both palms touching.

If the skin and joints of each hand cannot touch each other, or if there is a gap between the fingers and palms, then you should consult your doctor.

Other skin manifestation symptoms warning of high blood sugars include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Diabetic dermopathy
  • Digital sclerosis
  • Diabetic blisters
  • Acanthosis nigricans.

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