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I have had type I diabetes for 33 years (since age 13).  I've never had any complications until the last two years.  Since then, I've had trigger finger (left) which required surgery, frozen shoulder (left), pain in hip (left), tinnitus in ear (left) after extreme pain behind the ear (the tinnitus has continued for months now), and I've also torn my calf muscle (left) followed by a torn right calf muscle 5 months later (both tears were so loud that an entire room of people heard).  I was also diagnosed with Grave's Disease about 3 years ago, but it went into remission after about 18 months.  I no longer need the Tapazole that I was once on and I have verified with blood work that the thyroid is now normal.  I had an MRI on my shoulder and they said it was not arthritis but called it "rotator cuff" tendinitis and early frozen shoulder. Do you have any idea what could be wrong with me?  Could all these symptoms be related?  I've been to many doctors and we don't have any health insurance.  Is there a particular specialist I should see before we completely run out of funds?  Any light on this would really be appreciated!
14 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear grandprairebutterfly,

My son was diagnosed 19 years ago.  Because I am a volunteer and not a physician, I am unable to give you medical advice.
Having said that, I do recommend that a good start would be seeing a good endo.  

I personally have not seen the complications you describe in type 1 diabetes. This does not mean it is not related, just that I have never run across others who have experienced these symptoms.

I am so sorry about your health care. I know how frustrating it can be. Please keep following the comments as you may recieve more info in regards to your situation.

Best Wishes,
dm
Avatar universal
Sheesh!  You've been thru a lot!

I have read elsewhere about frozen shoulder, trigger fingers, carpal tunnel, etc being complication of long term diabetes.  Like you, I've had this disease a long time (~35 years).

One of the first suggestions is always to improve our blood sugar control if it's not already excellent.  Many of these symptoms can be eased with better blood sugars.

Tinnitus can sometimes result from (high) blood pressure and so I'd encourage you to have that checked out, too.  Home blood pressure monitors are available for $20-$40 and is a great investment if you can possibly afford it.  Some pharmacies & supermarket drug stores even have free blood pressure machines.

If your blood pressure is above 120/80 (max max max), then there is room for improvement by modifying diet/exercise and/or taking BP meds.  There's a category of bp meds called ACE inhibitors that're even recommended to diabetics with normal BP as kidney protection.  I'm not a physician, but hope these ideas are helpful and will perhaps give you something more to discuss with your endocrinologist.

Good luck.  I hope you'll check back and let us know how things are going.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your insight.  I do not have high blood pressure though, in fact it's on the low end of the normal range.  I get it checked often (only because I'm at the doctor's office often lately).  I went to an ENT and he said that the tinnitus was a result of TMJ (jaw).  However, he didn't do any tests at all, only asked me a few questions.  I know that TMJ can cause tinnitus and I don't doubt that I have some minor TMJ problems, like clicking sounds in the jaw.  What I am curious about is if all of the joint problems are related (shoulder, hip, jaw, finger) and especially why they're all on the same side.  I'm not familiar with the symptoms of fibromyalgia but I wonder if these symptoms could be similar.  Also, I know that once you have one autoimmune disease, you're at an increased chance of getting other autoimmune diseases.  With all the strange symptoms I've been having over the last couple of years, I'm just wondering what could be wrong or if they're all just coincidentally happening at the same time.  I very much appreciate your responses!
Avatar universal
Dear grandprairiebutterfly,
I don't have fibromyalgia, but know people that do. I know one of the symptoms is extreme fatique. I have also heard that joint pain and muscle pain are other indications. I do have rheumatoid artritis and some of your symptoms (jaw problems and joint pain) are somethings that I deal with. RA diagnoses is a very simple blood test and it maybe be worth checking out with your doctor. Again, I'm not a physician and am coming at this from my own personal experience. I wish you the very best and hope you get through this with a minimal expense and with positive results.  Let us know how you are doing.

Good Luck,
dm
Avatar universal
Hi, I've also had diabetes melitus for 33 years and have suffered from the complications for just over a year now.
For long enough my doc has been saying it's just your age and it's the onset of arthritus but after doing some research I've discovered that it is actually trigger finger adn frozen shoulder that's wrong with me and there are treatments available.
They start out with cortisone injections into the hood that covers the tendons, where it attaches to the bone. In most diabetics this only has up to a 50% chance of success, which means the next srep is an operation to release the tendon and this is much more successful.
I'm going to see my GP tommorrow and my next appointment with my diabetes advisor is in March and everyone had better watch out because I'm sick and tired of being told I've just got to learn to live with this imobility when I know there are treatments available.
You definately should go see a good endocrinologist and have a complete check up by them.
Avatar universal
I am 34 years old and I have had diabetes for 13 years. I have been suffering from Frozen Shoulder on my left arm since 2002 and just this past month I have developed Frozen shoulder and Carpel tunnel in my right arm. I have been blown off by my ortho doctor who basically tells me to better control my Diabetes and I wouldn't have shoulder problems. My over all A1c's have been good. My questions are:
1.How can he tell it is Frozen Shoulder with out an MRI?
2.Could I have some other underlying problem instead of Frozen Shoulder?
3.Should I get a second opinion? Thanks,
Avatar universal
Dear catsinthehat,

I am also sick and tired of everyone treating me the same way. i too have visited several websites and have found that I
believe I need surgery. How can I stand up to my doctors who use their MD to bully you into letting them take advantage of you?
Avatar universal
I am now receiving physical therapy for the frozen shoulder.  I've been going for three weeks now, twice a week, and have one more week to go (at $50 a visit!).  The mobility in my shoulder has increased slightly but not much.  I've heard from other people that diabetics with frozen shoulder should avoid the cortizone shots because they mess up your blood sugars and only give temporary releif.  One lady at pysical therapy said the shot only helped her for a couple of days.  Also, I've been told to avoid surgery because it still requires lots of PT afterward.  I did end up having surgery for the trigger finger though (after the cortizone shot didn't work).  It took a long time after surgery to get better, like maybe a year, even though they told me it would be "normal" after a few months. It's still not "normal" but it isn't a problem anymore. I really hope the PT for my shoulder works because I won't be able to afford surgery, at least not and buy insulin, blood test strips, insulin pump supplies, FOOD, etc.  Being a diabetic sure is expensive!
Avatar universal
I've had Type I diabetes for 25 years and definitely sympathize with the pain and frustration associated with frozen shoulder.  I've had frozen shoulder both on the left and right sides, at different times.  The first was the right and lasted about 5 years.  The pain was excruciating when reaching for things or making sudden movements.  Often the pain kept me from sleeping on my back, my stomach, or either side and soon I found myself taking pain medication (Talacen/Vicodin) and sleeping pills (Ambien) to get a decent night's sleep.  I tried cortisone injections, physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and nothing seemed to work.  Finally, after all else seemed to fail, my doctor and I decided to try surgery ('arthroscopic' I think).  During the surgery my doctor found nothing inherently wrong with my shoulder but decided to remove a ligament that would have the affect of releasing some of the pressure on the inflamed area.  He also manipulated my shoulder and removed some scar tissue.  It worked, although I still am skeptical that surgery was necessary.  
A few years later I got frozen shoulder on my left side.  This time I was determined to avoid surgery.  The doctor prescribed physical therapy again several times but still I got very little relief.  But I noticed that what little relief I did get seemed to be associated with the therapist's doing soft tissue work, much more so than the exercises.  Luckily, I found a therapist on the internet who claimed to have a lot of experience fixing frozen shoulder.  She practiced what she called 'Tandem Point' therapy - I guess you could describe it as a combination of massage therapy and acupressure.  Anyway, after about 4 to 5 visits I was virtually pain free and had recovered about 90% of my mobility!!  Since then she has moved out of the area but I have found similar practitioners to manage my occasional 'flare ups'.  'Rolfing' has also been effective for me.  These treatments aren't typically covered by insurance but even so it's cheaper than surgery. And lastly, drinking lots of water everyday seems to keep my muscles and joints a little happier - makes me wonder if us diabetics are chronically dehydrated??  Anyway, my suggestion to you would be to find a good massage therapist who is very familiar with frozen shoulder and even better aware of it's relationship to diabetes.

Best of luck to you!
Avatar universal
I am now in physical therapy and I too have found a wonderful therapist who does exactly what yours did. The Tandem Point therapy really works! My left shoulder is doing much better. I am still struggling with my right and I think it is because it is still in the Freezing Stage which we all know can become painful for up to 5 months after the onset. I have a question for you. Did you ever experience pain and tightness in your lower arms and wrist? Almost like there was a rubberband being tightened around your wrist? I saw a specialist and he said he doesn't think it has anything to do with carpel tunnel but rather the shoulder instead. What is your opinion on this?
Avatar universal
I've experienced stiffness in my forearms and wrists but only minimal pain.  And never the 'rubberband' thing as you describe it.  From what I know about carpal tunnel syndrome, I think it's a repetitive stress disorder and these days computer work is often a culprit. That being said, I do believe there is a strong relationship between problems with the lower arm and the shoulder.  I would tend to think that stiffness and immobility of the lower arm would me more likely to cause problems in the shoulder than the other way around.  It seems to me that if the lower arm is stiff and in pain, you'd be likely to tense up and compensate for it some other way, and that could translate to the shoulder.  Do you work with your hands a lot or use the computer several hours/day?
Avatar universal
I am 40 and have had diabetes for 12 years.  I have been on insulin some and have now been on oral meds for 2 years.  I am now having SIGNIFICANT problems with tinnitus and fatigue.  I can't stay awake to save my life.  I didn't put the two togther until I noticed my sugars are way up.  I am about to lose my mind - anyone had the same experience?  and if so what did your endo say?  Any help would be appreciated.  This has really been awful hearing this high pitch and sleeping 16-18 hours out of a day.  HELP
Avatar universal
hi all hope u are all feeling a bit better,i have had type 2 diabetes for almost 6 years and im 35 now,before i was dagonsed with diabetes,i had tennis elbow in my right elbow,so the course of treatment went well and was 3 cortico-steriod injections into my elbow and i just get the odd twinge now and again,but recently i have been off work for a weeks with a awful pain in my left wrist, which i thought was with doing a repetitive job,only to find out today when went back to see the doctor that this problem could of been caused by my diabetes,and a few years back i also had frozen shoulder (which they said was caused by keep picking up my heavy baby at that stage) so now im not to sure about anything, i still get the painin my shoulder now and again and after reading all your notes im not to sure if my diabetes is to blame for all of my problems . thats all for now , will log in for further updates. bye all
Avatar universal
I have been a type I diabetic for 23 yrs.  I have horrible carpal tunnel right now.  I am going to see an acupuncturist on Monday as surgery seems to be a crapshoot on results and I have read great things about acupuncture.  My mother had frozen shoulder and same misery you are all describing unrelated to diabetes.  I am hoping acupuncture is the answer.  Will report back on that. - Sjoliehart
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