Patients with diabetes who have chronic pain may experience more difficulty in managing their disease and with self-care activities. For the study, the researchers evaluated chronic pain's effects on diabetes self-management in 993 patients receiving care through the Department of Veteran Affairs. The current study defined chronic pain as the presence of pain most of the time for at least 6 months during the past year.
Using information from participant surveys, the researchers found that about 60% of the participants reported having chronic pain. Specifically, these participants tended to be younger than those without chronic pain, female, using insulin, and overweight. The researchers also discovered a significant association between chronic pain and poorer overall diabetes control. The participants with chronic pain had more trouble following recommended exercise and eating plans.
Reporting in Diabetes Care (January 2005), the researchers concluded that "chronic pain may be a major limiting factor in the performance of certain self-care behaviors and thereby reinforces the need to proactively address such potential competing demands"for individuals with diabetes.