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Type 2 Diabetes Doubles Risk Of Severe Osteoarthritis, Study Finds

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Research out of Europe has highlighted a new risk factor – type 2 diabetes – for the development of severe osteoarthritis (OA) where joint replacement is required, Arthritis Today reported in November.

The findings, published recently in Diabetes Care, show that type 2 diabetes doubles the risk of severe OA and emerges as the third independent and strong risk factor for joint failure along with two already known ones – age and body mass index.

The study outcomes are particularly important because of the thorough and lengthy (20-year) patient follow-up, said University of Erlangen-Nuremberg’s chief of rheumatology Dr Georg Schett, who co-authored the research.

The study encompassed 69 diabetic and 858 non-diabetic patients enrolled in 1990 and followed until 2010. The participants were examined every five years and the study outcome focused on joint replacement surgery. The research found that the intervention rate (or the number of people who required total joint replacement, or arthroplasty) was over three times bigger at 17.7% for the diabetic group compared to the non-diabetic group (5.3%). When body mass index, age and other factors were included in the assessment, type 2 diabetes patients were found to be twice as likely to require joint replacement surgery relative to those without type 2 diabetes.

The findings suggest that osteoarthritis, which is traditionally believed to be a biomechanical, or “wear and tear” disorder, could also be a metabolic one. When looking at how diabetes raises the risk of developing OA, the study authors thought it was possible that high blood sugar levels stimulate the collagen destruction or the production of inflammatory substances that damage the joint.

According to the research, OA may be a manifestation of metabolic syndrome – a group of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity, which hike the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease, Dr Schett said. Thus, effective control over the metabolic syndrome may help prevent development of symptomatic joint disease, he concluded.