Millions of Americans live with diabetes. Having diabetes increases the likelihood of having other health conditions. This often reduces physical movement and mobility, which frequently results in back pain.

We know that diabetics who suffer from back pain have a harder time managing their condition. Both conditions cost the US billions of dollars in treatment costs annually.

In this post, we cover how these conditions are related and what you can do to avoid or reduce back pain.

Diabetes often occurs with other health conditions

Nine out of ten diabetics have an additional condition that impacts their quality of life. Below are some of the most common conditions associated with diabetes:

Diabetes + another health condition = poor back health

Having two health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, is often related to lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, if these habits aren’t changed, the diseases can get worse or even lead to more health conditions – especially poor back health and eventually back pain.  

If you’ve had back pain, you know it can be debilitating. Whether it is a constant low level of pain or intermittent shooting pain, it begins to limit people’s lives. It can be embarrassing, inconvenient and make you feel decades older than you are.

Why back pain makes living with diabetes worse
Back pain + diabetes = worsen other health conditions

A recent study came up with some interesting insights about the impact back pain has on conditions associated with diabetes. People suffering from back pain and diabetes were found to have a higher rate of the following conditions:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Neuropathy
  • Retinopathy

Not only did the rate of additional diseases go up within this population, but they also were more likely to have unmanaged diabetes. People suffering from both back pain and diabetes were also found to have:

  • A higher average A1C level (3-month average blood glucose test)
  • Increased reliance on medication (metformin)

This study shows an alarming trend of diminished health for people suffering from both back pain and diabetes with poor lifestyle factors (e.g., smoking, poor diet, lack of movement, etc.) being the common thread connecting the conditions.  

Changing a lifestyle is a huge task, managing diabetes is hard, and living with back pain is unbearable. So where do you even begin to make changes if you want to lower your chances of suffering from these linked conditions?

What you can do

Start the same way you build a house: by building a strong foundation. By strengthening the ‘foundation’ around your spine, you can lower the amount of strain placed on your back and keep your back healthy for life.

Top four steps to build your healthy back foundation

  1. Use your core muscles: Actively contracting your core muscles can help brace your spine correctly.
    • This helps to eliminate unnecessary strain on your back.
  2. Stretch daily: Stretching helps makes your spine move better.
  3. Move more: Regular activity helps to promote blood flow to your entire body.
    • Try parking further away, or taking walking breaks.
    • A good goal to aim for is over 5,000 steps/day.
  4. Practice good posture: Good posture is crucial to keep your spine in the correct position.
    • Watch this video five steps to good posture for a guided explanation of the following steps:
      1. Find neutral spine
      2. Contract your core
      3. Lift your chest
      4. Drop your shoulders
      5. Lengthen the back of your neck

Having diabetes increases your likelihood of having other health conditions, and back pain makes this worse. You can take these steps today to get or keep your back healthy.

Want more help?

Here at Telespine, we teach simple and effective exercises and daily habits to keep your back healthy. We know taking the first step in changing habits is always the hardest, which is where our Certified Health Coaches help by creating a customized plan to meet your needs.

Don’t let back pain make this condition harder to manage. Start taking simple steps today to treat your back pain by using the Telespine program. Contact us for more information.

Enter your email address below to download our one-pager on how back pain increased comorbid conditions within diabetics.

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Iglay K, et al. Prevalence and co-prevalence of comorbidities among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Curr Med Res Opin. 2016; 32(7): 1243-52. doi:10.1185/03007995.2016.1168291.

Centers of Disease Control. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017. Accessed May 20, 2019

Rinaldo L, et al. Diabetes and Back Pain: Markers of Diabetes Disease Progression are Associated with Chronic Back Pain. Clinical Diabetes. 2017(35):3;126-131.

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