Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joints.
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Within this diagnosis we find more than 50 different types of joint conditions. There are currently more than 50 million people diagnosed with arthritis in the United States, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. This time we are going to talk about diabetes and one of the different types of arthritis; Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA):
As we have already mentioned in other conditions, it is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the synovium, which is the thin membrane that lines the joints, causing pain, swelling, inflammation, redness and heat. When the symptoms are not controlled, it causes the destruction of the joint. There are approximately 1.3 million people in the United States with rheumatoid arthritis.
What is the diabetes?
Diabetes, which affects about 25.8 million people in the United States, is a disease that affects the function of insulin or the amount of insulin that is made in the body. Insulin allows glucose (sugars) in the food the body consumes to be converted into energy. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood, increasing its level. Cells run out of energy and you feel tired. Left uncontrolled, high glucose levels can damage nerves and blood vessels large and small, which can lead to additional problems such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and damage to eyesight.
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and 2. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or does not respond efficiently to the insulin it secretes, in a process called insulin resistance. This makes it difficult for insulin to enter cells and provide them with energy. In both types of diabetes, glucose levels begin to rise in the blood and damage the body’s cells.
Are arthritis and diabetes related?
Arthritis and diabetes are not directly related, but the diseases often coexist. In fact, recent reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that more than half (52%) of people with diabetes also have some form of arthritis. The two diseases have several aspects in common, depending on the different types of arthritis and diabetes.
Rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, as is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas, the organ in which insulin is produced, much like RA attacks the synovium of the joints.
Levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) or interleukin 1 (IL-1), which are often elevated in people with RA, are also elevated in those with type 1 diabetes. A study in Individuals who had type 1 diabetes for more than five years revealed an increase in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), another regularly high indicator of inflammation in people with inflammatory types of arthritis.
Research also shows genetic connections between RA and type 1 diabetes. In recent years, scientists have identified a gene that strongly correlates with the incidence of type 1 diabetes, as well as RA, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.
Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and medications
Some medications used for RA can cause diabetes to lose control. We have to watch the sugar levels, particularly if the patient is using corticosteroids.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients are also more inactive and this worsens their blood sugar levels. There are studies that establish that the use of antimalarial medications such as hydoxychloroquine, reduces the risks of diabetes in patients with RA. But not all patients are suitable for this drug.
In summary, both conditions are autoimmune and can interact and cause more morbidity in the patient, so neither of them should be neglected and both conditions should be constantly evaluated and monitored to avoid future complications.