An assorted pile of donuts.
Avoid eating foods full of processed sugar to maintain blood sugar levels.

How are Diabetes and Arthritis Connected?

This article will discuss the best and worst foods, signs and symptoms, medications and some treatment options like Jardiance® (empaglifozin),  an antidiabetic medication used to improve glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes, Semaglutide, an injection used to treat type 2 diabetes and Canagliflozin, a medication for type 2 diabetes that works by helping the kidneys remove excess sugar from the body through urine.

Best and Worst Foods

Here are some dietary guidelines to consider.

Foods to Avoid

  • Processed sugars: Minimize consumption of sugary snacks, beverages and desserts to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Trans fats: Limit foods containing partially hydrogenated oils, such as many fried and packaged snacks.
  • High sodium foods: Reduce intake of salty foods to support heart health and manage blood pressure.
  • Refined grains: Cut back on refined flour products like white bread and pastries, as they can lead to rapid blood sugar spikes.

Foods to Eat

  • Lean proteins: Incorporate sources like poultry, fish, beans and lentils to support muscle health and blood sugar control.
  • Whole grains: Opt for whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat bread to provide sustained energy and fiber.
  • Healthy fats: Include sources like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil to promote heart health and reduce inflammation.
  • Hydration is key: Staying hydrated is important for joint function and blood sugar regulation. Opt for water as your primary beverage and limit sugary drinks.
  • Fruits and vegetables: These nutrient-rich foods offer antioxidants that can help manage inflammation and regulate blood sugar levels.

Research suggests that individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop certain types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The chronic inflammation seen in arthritis can also affect insulin sensitivity, potentially worsening diabetes control.

On the other hand, individuals with type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, including arthritis. Because type 1 diabetes involves the immune system attacking insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, there is a greater risk of the same autoimmune response occurring with other systems in the body.

Overlapping Treatments and Notable Differences

When it comes to managing arthritis and diabetes simultaneously, there are treatment strategies that can address both conditions.

Regular physical activity, such as low-impact exercises and walking, can help improve joint mobility, alleviate arthritis pain and aid in better diabetes management by enhancing insulin sensitivity. However, it's essential to strike a balance between staying active and not overexerting yourself, which could lead to blood sugar fluctuations.

Managing weight is another area where the two conditions intersect. Maintaining a healthy weight can alleviate stress on joints, especially weight-bearing ones, and improve insulin sensitivity. Moreover, a diet rich in nutrients can positively impact both conditions by providing essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Medications: Considerations and Interactions


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed to alleviate arthritis pain and inflammation. However, individuals with diabetes should be cautious with NSAIDs, as they can potentially affect kidney function and interact with certain diabetes medications. Consulting a healthcare provider is crucial to ensure the safe use of these medications.

Other Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

For individuals with arthritis who are taking anti-inflammatory drugs like methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) inhibitors, studies have shown that these drugs also help to control blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for those suffering from arthritis and diabetes and can even reduce the risk of developing diabetes altogether.

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The use of steroids in individuals who have both arthritis and diabetes is tricky. While steroids like prednisone combat the inflammatory effects of arthritis, it also causes the liver to release more glucose and slows its absorption into muscle and fat tissue. This increase in blood sugar levels makes managing diabetes more difficult and can increase the risk of developing negative long-term effects.


For diabetes management, medications like metformin are frequently prescribed. It's important to be aware that some medications may have side effects that can impact joint health or exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Open communication with your healthcare team is key to finding the right balance and making informed decisions about your treatment plan.

Recognizing Signs and Symptoms

Distinguishing between the symptoms of arthritis and diabetes is essential for proper management.

Arthritis symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased range of motion.

Diabetes symptoms encompass frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and slow wound healing.

By identifying and differentiating these symptoms, individuals can seek timely medical attention and prevent complications.

Final Notes

Arthritis is a condition characterized by joint inflammation, pain and stiffness. Diabetes, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder that affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

Managing both arthritis and diabetes requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the interplay between these conditions. Remember that open communication with healthcare providers is essential for tailoring a treatment plan that meets your needs.

With the right strategies, it is possible to lead a fulfilling life despite the challenges posed by arthritis and diabetes.