According to the CDC, more than half of people with diabetes also have arthritis. Almost a quarter of people with diabetes need daily insulin injections to manager their disease.

If you have arthritis that affects your hands and need insulin to control diabetes, you might find monitoring your blood and giving yourself injections difficult.  

Fortunately there are ways to make the process a bit easier, ranging from special devices available from insulin manufacturers to tricks and tips people can try on their own.

Experts offer this advice:

Pick the Right Device. Giving insulin the traditional way – with a syringe – requires mixing your insulin preparation, drawing the insulin into a syringe, cleansing then pinching up the skin to be injected, pushing the needle into the pinched skin and then pushing down the plunger to inject the medication.

“Using the small, microfine syringes is hard enough with normal hand function, but when you have arthritis or other disorders of the hand you need something simpler,” says Robert Henry, MD, president of Medicine & Science for the American Diabetes Association.

A number of products can help make the process easier.

Injection Device: The most popular alternatives to traditional syringes are insulin pens, says Dr. Henry. The pens, which look much like a regular ballpoint pen, are similar to syringes in that they use a needle to inject insulin beneath the skin. In pens, however, the insulin is stored in a cartridge. When it’s empty, just replace it - no need to draw insulin into a syringe for each dose. A digital dial on the side of the pen allows you to choose the correct dosage. Other pens are prefilled by the manufacturer and disposable, eliminating the need to replace cartridges. Your doctor will determine which type is right for you.

Automatic injection devices and jet injectors may be helpful for those who have difficulty holding and using insulin pens. Automatic injection devices are apparatuses into which a loaded syringe can be placed inserted automatically into the skin by a spring-loaded system. Jet injectors, which are less common, use high pressure to send a fine spray of insulin through the skin. While they may be easier to use than pens and syringes, they are also more painful, more expensive and rarely covered by insurance. Your doctor can help you decide if this is an option for you.

Glucose Monitor:  Finger pricks and glucose testing can also present problems for people with limited hand dexterity, but selecting the right device can make the process easier, says Dan Kent, a diabetes health educator and clinical pharmacy specialty coordinator at Group Health Cooperative, a Seattle-based health care system that coordinates health and coverage.

For people who have a hard time with small glucometers, Kent recommends a round model that fits easily into the palm. A favorite among his patients with arthritis is the Ascensis Breeze 2 glucose monitoring system manufactured by Bayer HealthCare. This meter received an Ease-of-Use Commendation from the Arthritis Foundation.