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Sugar Cane: Diabetes and Joint Pain

It’s Complicated

When thinking about Type 2 Diabetes, it is important to remember that it is really a symptom and not a disease. Type 2 is directly related to lifestyle behaviors including nutrition, hydration and physical activity. In most people with Type 2, other symptoms coexist, including obesity, high blood pressure, high circulating triglyceride levels and an increased risk for stroke and heart disease. This cluster of symptoms is often referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. Recent research suggests that osteoarthritis is also closely linked to Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.

Making the Connection

A common markers for Metabolic Syndrome is inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response to harmful substances in the body. Just as a soft tissue injury or a bacterial infection leads to swelling, or inflammation, unwanted substances circulating in your bodily fluids attract anti-inflammatory agents to fight them off. Because your joints, especially your knee joints, are surrounded by synovial fluid, they are a ripe target for inflammation that leads to pain and disability.

Treatment vs Cure


Osteoarthritis is usually treated with either opioid pain killers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and celecoxib, or analgesics like acetaminophen. Injections of corticosteroids help reduce joint inflammation, and hyaluronic acid can be injected to supplement that found naturally in synovial fluid, but which appears to be broken down in patients with osteoarthritis. However, pain management does not lead to a cure for osteoarthritis.


The best way to treat joint pain, along with Type 2 diabetes and the other elements of metabolic syndrome is to overhaul your lifestyle behaviors. Becoming physically active on a consistent daily basis will get the ball rolling quickly. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 to 75 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise, along with at least two bouts of total body resistance training weekly. Switching out soft drinks and other beverages for plain filtered water will lower sugar consumption. Modifying your diet by eliminating refined carbohydrates and replacing them with whole fresh vegetables and fruits will help you lose weight and reverse metabolic syndrome.


Our goal at W.I.T.S. is to provide our fitness professionals with all the resources necessary to meet your clients’ needs. For professional growth, be sure to keep current with Continuing Education. We offer courses ranging from Fitness to Sales and Marketing to Business Management. Consider making yourself more marketable by earning an additional Certification such as Personal Trainer Certification, Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Group Exercise Instructor Certification, Youth Fitness Certification, Lifestyle Fitness Coaching or Fitness Management. To help your diabetic clients, zero in on our numerous Nutrition courses, and courses focused on Special Populations. And remember to get your Digital Badge, so all your friends and contacts on Social Media will know that you are a dedicated fitness professional.


Kim, DD (2001). Diabetes and Your Joints. Clinical Diabetes, 19(3),136.

Mayo Clinic Staff. Bone and joint problems associated with diabetes.

Rosario, M and Azevedo, I (2010). Chronic inflammation in obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Mediators of Inflammation, 2010.

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