Central: (231) 421-9300

How Sugar Puts You at Risk for Musculoskeletal Diseases

June 18, 2023

How Sugar Puts You at Risk for Musculoskeletal Diseases


The impact of sugar consumption on our health extends beyond its association with weight gain and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Recent research suggests that excessive sugar intake can also increase the risk of various musculoskeletal conditions, including frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injuries, and back pain. Understanding the relationship between sugar, blood sugar levels, and musculoskeletal health can empower us to make informed dietary choices and mitigate the risk of these debilitating conditions.


The Sugar-Blood Sugar Connection


When we consume foods and beverages high in sugar, our bodies quickly break down these carbohydrates into glucose, leading to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. In response, the pancreas releases insulin to facilitate the uptake of glucose into cells, providing them with energy. However, excessive sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance, impairing the body's ability to utilize glucose effectively.


Insulin resistance and persistently high blood sugar levels are associated with chronic inflammation throughout the body. This chronic inflammation can have adverse effects on musculoskeletal health, contributing to the development of various conditions.


Musculoskeletal Diseases and Sugar's Impact


Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Frozen shoulder is characterized by pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. Emerging evidence suggests a connection between elevated blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder. High blood sugar may promote inflammation and collagen cross-linking, leading to thickening and tightening of the shoulder capsule.


Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. Excessive sugar consumption can increase the risk of rotator cuff injuries by promoting inflammation and compromising tissue integrity. High blood sugar levels are associated with impaired collagen synthesis and increased tendon stiffness, making the tendons more susceptible to injury.


Back Pain: Chronic back pain is a common musculoskeletal condition that can be influenced by sugar consumption. A diet high in sugar leads to the release of inflammatory mediators in the body, contributing to the development or exacerbation of inflammation-induced back pain. Additionally, excessive sugar intake may contribute to weight gain and obesity, which are risk factors for back pain and spinal disorders.


Osteoarthritis: Although primarily a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis can be influenced by factors such as inflammation and metabolic dysfunction. High sugar intake can lead to systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, contributing to the progression of osteoarthritis. Moreover, elevated blood sugar levels promote the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can impair joint function and accelerate cartilage breakdown.


Reducing Sugar Intake for Musculoskeletal Health


Reducing sugar consumption is key to mitigating the risk of musculoskeletal diseases. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Limit Added Sugars: Minimize the consumption of sugary beverages, processed foods, desserts, and snacks that contain added sugars. Read labels carefully to identify hidden sources of sugar.
  2. Opt for Whole Foods: Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. These provide essential nutrients and fiber while naturally containing lower levels of sugar.
  3. Choose Natural Sweeteners: When needed, opt for natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, or small amounts of honey or maple syrup, which have less impact on blood sugar levels compared to refined sugars.
  4. Be Mindful of Portion Sizes: Be mindful of portion sizes when consuming sugary treats. Enjoy them in moderation as an occasional indulgence rather than a regular part of your diet.
  5. Prioritize a Balanced Diet: Maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole, unprocessed foods from all of the food groups.

Want great info on how to heal various parts of the body? Check out our Resources web page: Resources | Superior Physical Therapy (thesuperiortherapy.com)


Here's a great article on Type 2 Diabetes and higher Risks for Musculoskeletal Pain: https://pro.endocrineweb.com/diabetes-complications/type-2-diabetes-associated-higher-risk-musculoskeletal-pain



Recent Posts:

Thanks for Following
our blog

We hope you enjoy the value packed information that we release each week and we hope it helps you live a healthier life. Look for emails in the future with updates.

    Superior Therapy Logo
    Superior Physical Therapy is all about your priorities, professional service, a satisfying experience, best value, and your success. We want you to feel at ease when you come to visit us and to feel great about yourself when you leave.
    Stretch Me LogoPain-Free Living
    Contact Information
    Office Hours: 
    7am - 7pm Monday to Friday
    Superior Physical Therapy (West) 
    3899 West Front St., 
    Traverse City, MI 49684
    Superior Physical Therapy & Spine Center (Central) 
    722 Munson Ave, Traverse City, MI 49686
    © Copyright 2024 Superior Physical Therapy All Rights Reserved.