Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of many serious complications. The most widely known complications are early cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, blindness and damage to nerves and blood vessels in the legs and feet. Many people do not know that diabetes can affect almost every part of the body, including your hands. Until recently, common effects of diabetes on a person’s hands were thought to be trigger finger, limited mobility of the finger joints, and Dupuytren’s disease (gradual thickening and tightening of tissue under the skin in the hand which can cause one or more fingers to stay bent toward the palm, complicating everyday activities).
Five hand complications from diabetes
In a recent study from Sweden, researchers looked at 50,000 participants with diabetes (including both type 1 and type 2 diabetes). They studied changes in the hands and compared this with the general public. Over time, hand complications became common for those with diabetes. Also, many people suffered from more than one diagnosis. For example, complications included osteoarthritis, pressure damage to the nerves causing carpal tunnel syndrome and damage to the ulnar nerve (both of which can cause pain, unpleasant sensations, and loss of function in the hand) in addition to the ones mentioned above. The incidence of hand disorders was up to eight times higher among people with type 1 diabetes than those without diabetes.
The results from this study show that complications from diabetes are common in the hand, and that many people suffer from more than one diagnosis. Focus should now be on prevention.