Neck and Back Pain More Common in Diabetes Interview with:

Manuela L. Ferreira PhD
Institute of Bone and Joint Research
The Kolling Institute, Sydney Medical School

Paulo H. Ferreira PhD
Musculoskeletal Health Research Group
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: One in four Australians experience back pain or neck pain. Diabetes is also a worldwide prevalent condition, and currently affects over 382 million people. These two diseases often co-exist and have very similar underlying mechanisms, such as obesity and physical inactivity. We were unsure whether having one condition would lead to developing the other, however.

We have found 11 studies published to date, and assessing the relation between back or neck pain and diabetes. The studies included over 165,000 participants published in the USA, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Iran and Spain.

When we pooled the results of these studies together, we observed that people with type 2 diabetes are 35% more likely to also have low back pain (compared to people without diabetes). The risk of having severe back pain symptoms in people with type 2 diabetes is 63% higher and the risk of having severe neck pain is almost 30% higher, than in people with no diabetes.  We could not identify, however, whether type 2 diabetes can lead to back or neck pain, and it is possible that the two conditions are associated via other underlying mechanisms such as obesity and physical inactivity. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Type 2 diabetes has important implications to the health of our spine and it is likely that if you have type 2 diabetes, you also experience severe back and neck pain.  However, the correct mechanisms that explain this relation are still unknown. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future studies should elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the relation between diabetes and low back/neck pain to provide an opportunity to target preventive and management strategies for both conditions. The role of medication for glycaemic control in the relation between diabetes and low back or neck pain also needs to be better understood.

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Daniel Pozzobon, Paulo H. Ferreira, Amabile B. Dario, Lisandra Almeida, Giovana Vesentini, Alison R. Harmer, Manuela L. Ferreira. Is there an association between diabetes and neck and back pain? A systematic review with meta-analyses. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (2): e0212030 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212030

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Last Updated on February 23, 2019 by