Cheiroarthropathy - A Diabetes Complication

Last Editorial Review: 6/25/2003

Diabetes mellitus, commonly referred to as "diabetes," is a chronic medical condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Diabetes can lead to eye, kidney, nerve, and heart damage. It can also be complicated by a syndrome that affects the function of the hands, cheiroarthropathy.

Cheiroarthropathy is syndrome of limited joint mobility that occurs in patients with diabetes. Cheiroarthropathy is characterized by thickening of the skin resulting in contracture of the fingers.

Cheiroarthropathy causes such limited motion of the fingers that the affected individual is unable to extend the fingers to fully flatten the hand. Typically both hands are affected by cheiroarthropathy. Rarely, larger joints are affected (generally in more advanced, longstanding diabetes).

Cheiroarthropathy has been reported in over half of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes and approximately three quarters of those with noninsulin-dependent diabetes. Cheiroarthropathy occurs more frequently in those with a longer history of diabetes.

Treatment of cheiroarthropathy includes pain reliever and/or antiinflammation medicines, stretching exercises, and tight control of the blood sugar level.

For more, please visit the Diabetes Center.

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