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November 9, 2001

Aches and Pains

Question from Vandalia, Illinois, USA:

My four year old son, just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, has been complaining a lot that his knees hurt. I've heard of other children complaining that their joints hurt, but then I've heard that this is not a usual complaint of diabetes. Could this be caused by diabetes?

Answer:

In general, joint complaints and symptoms in children with type 1 diabetes are not common or typical. Some pediatric endocrinologists have noted that there can be a decrease in joint mobility (and possibly thickening of the skin) in folks with poorly controlled diabetes after a number of years. This is likely not your child.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune process so occasionally, and unfortunately, there are children who develop type 1 diabetes and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) or lupus. Your son’s pediatrician or diabetes team can help assess this, but usually JRA has painful joints, often with joint swelling and sometimes redness, and usually a pattern of fever.

DS