Upper limb complications associated with continuous high blood sugar, research indicates

Frozen shoulder and carpal tunnel syndrome are just two of the upper limb problems that are caused by having long-term high blood sugar, new evidence shows.

Latest research led by the University of Exeter has found that people with consistently high blood sugar were more likely to develop four upper limb conditions – frozen shoulder, Dupuytren’s disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and trigger finger.

Additionally, having a higher BMI can also trigger the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, the study has reported.

During the trial, the team of scientists employed genetic techniques across a largescale study to find out what caused a range of musculoskeletal problems – which are more prevalent in people with diabetes, or who are obese.

Funded by the Exeter Centre of Excellence for Diabetes Research (EXCEED) and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Exeter Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), the team used data from more than 370,000 participants in the UK Biobank study.

Dr Harry Green, of the University of Exeter Medical School, led the research and said: “Our study consistently demonstrates that having high blood sugar over the long term causes these upper limb conditions.

“We can now classify them as diabetes complications.  Clinicians treating diabetes patients should be aware of these complications in clinic, so they can advise on the best treatment pathways.”

The paper is entitled ‘Hyperglycemia is a causal risk factor for upper limb pathologies’, and is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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