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Diabetes

Diabetes and neck pain

03/10/2008

Question:

I have diabetes type 2 only diagnosed within 2 months and have lost 17 lbs and on strict diet.

Recently I started to have a neck paing (doesn`t radiate) most pronouced at night and better during the day. I have chaned pillows and take Tylanol.

I also have beginnings of spinal stenosis in lower lumber and am not sure if it is related to that

What do you think

Answer:

The likeliest answer is that these are unrelated.  There is a small chance that a pain which is more pronounced at night could be a form of diabetic neuropathy.  However, this is an unusual location for that and, for the most part, we approach diabetic neuropathy as a "diagnosis of exclusion."  That means it is important to go looking for a reason for a given pain that is due to some more specific and treatable source than diabetic neuropathy.  The treatments that we use for diabetic neuropathy relieve pain but, except for improved blood sugar control, do not really get at the underlying cause of the problem.

My suggestion would be to make sure that other treatable causes such as the concern you raise about spinal stenosis are adequately looked into first before settling for a diagnosis of this being related to diabetes.  If  it is spinal stenosis, I don't see how there is much connection between the diabetes and the cause of the problem.  One concern however, is that some possible diagnoses might call for treatment with steroids which may worsen blood sugar control.  Sometimes there is no choice but to use that treatment but you want to have a very high suspicion that that is the right diagnosis before being subjected to the side effects of worsened blood sugar control.

Congratulations on your efforts at weight loss - keep up the good work - it will pay off.

For more information:

Go to the Diabetes health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati