Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size

Chronic Pain Hampers Diabetes Self-Care

Harder to Exercise, Diet, and Take Meds With Chronic Pain
WebMD Health News

Chronic Pain Common

Jan. 14, 2005 -- Treating pain may be a key factor in helping to get diabetes under control.

Chronic pain hounds many people with diabetes, making it harder for them to manage their condition through exercise, healthy eating, and medications, a study shows.

Sarah Krein, PhD, RN, and colleagues report the findings in the January issue of Diabetes Care. Krein works at Veterans Affairs (VA) Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan.

The burden of living in pain could distract diabetes patients from doing what's necessary for their health, say the researchers. "Chronic pain may be a major limiting factor in the performance of certain self-care behaviors," they say, calling for self-care plans that take pain and other chronic conditions into account.

Nearly 1,000 diabetes patients participated in the study. Most were men in their mid-60s.

On a scale of 1-5, the participants rated how hard it was for them to take diabetes medications, exercise regularly, follow their recommended eating plan, check their blood sugar level, and examine their feet for wounds and sores.

Besides those benchmarks of diabetes self-care, the surveys also screened for depression and asked the participants to rate their overall health.

Chronic Pain Common

About 60% of participants reported chronic pain, which was described as pain that was present most of the time for six or more months during the past year. The back, hip, and knee were most commonly affected.

On average, patients said pain had disrupted their daily life for 18 out of the last 28 days. Pain medications were taken regularly or occasionally by 78%. Those with chronic pain tended to be younger, heavier, female, and insulin users.

Self-care suffered with chronic pain. Participants with chronic pain had more trouble exercising and following their recommended diets. However, they didn't have problems taking their medications or checking their feet for wounds or sores.

General health ratings were also lower for chronic pain participants. More than half said they were in fair or poor health, compared with about a third of those without chronic pain.

In addition, chronic pain was often accompanied by depression. Nearly half of the participants with chronic pain showed signs of depression. In contrast, only 20% of pain-free participants had depression symptoms.

Even after depression and other factors were considered, the link between pain and self-care still held. Taking pain medications helped, but not enough to match the level of self-care seen in pain-free participants.

Today on WebMD

pain in brain and nerves
Top causes and how to find relief.
knee exercise
8 exercises for less knee pain.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
illustration of nerves in hand
lumbar spine
Woman opening window
Man holding handful of pills
Woman shopping for vegetables
Sore feet with high heel shoes
acupuncture needles in woman's back
man with a migraine