Australian Study Links Diabetes and Back Pain

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By : dLife Editors

People with diabetes have a 35 percent higher risk of experiencing low back pain and a 24 percent higher risk of having neck pain than those without diabetes, a review by University of Sydney researchers has found.

Their findings are based on meta-analyses of studies that assess the links between diabetes and back or neck pain outcomes.

Diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic condition; an estimated 382 million people live with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of this metabolic disease, and so understanding the relationship between the two is important.

The senior author of the study, associate professor Dr. Manuela Ferreira from the University’s Institute of Bone and Joint Research says there was insufficient evidence in the study to establish a causal relationship between diabetes and back or neck pain.

However, she says the findings warrant further investigation of the association.

“Diabetes and low back pain and neck pain seem to be somehow connected,” says Ferreira. “We can’t say how, but these findings suggest further research into the link is warranted,” she says.

Type 2 diabetes and low back pain both have a strong relationship with obesity and lack of physical activity, so a logical progression of this research might be to examine these factors in more detail, suggests Ferreira.

“Our analysis adds to the evidence that weight control and physical activity play fundamental roles in health maintenance,” Ferreira says.

The paper also found diabetes medication could influence pain, possibly via its effect on blood glucose levels, and researchers say this connection should also be investigated.

It also recommended health care professionals should consider screening for unknown diabetes in patients seeking care for neck pain or low back pain.

“Neck and back pain and diabetes are afflicting more and more people,” says co-author and collaborator associate professor Dr. Paulo Ferreira from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“It’s worth committing more resources to investigate their interrelationship. It may be that altering treatment interventions for diabetes could reduce the incidence of back pain, and vice versa,” he says.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.


  1. Study links diabetes and back pain. (2019, Feb. 21) EurekAlert! Retrieved: