Diabetes is one of the major public health concerns in the world. Millions are affected, and complications can sometimes be life-threatening. While it can be challenging to manage this disease, there are ways to help you cope. Foot massage and diabetes might be a great combination, helping to ease symptoms and offer additional benefits.
It was just a few years ago when I learned I have diabetes. It all started with a constant thirst, and I began to urinate more frequently. I felt tired almost all of the time. Another sign was the increased time it took for my wounds to heal – even a simple cut would take weeks before it completely healed.
I became more aware of my symptoms and decided to visit a doctor. After a consultation, it was confirmed that my symptoms fell in line with type 2 diabetes. A few tests later, and I received an official diagnosis.
Since that time, I have tried to manage my diabetes effectively, but it can be difficult at times. Complications had started to show up in my feet, which is when a friend, who has diabetes for over a decade, recommended a foot massage. I’ll be sharing my experience with foot massage and diabetes.
Diabetes Affecting The Feet
Diabetes is more common than many think. After being diagnosed, a little research gave me the idea that about 10.5% of people in the US have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of the disease. A majority of people with diabetes are undiagnosed. This means their risks might even be worse – as they are not being treated for this potentially life-threatening disease. In fact, it is estimated that 26.8 million US adults do not know they have diabetes.
Several complications can develop among people with diabetes. Most people with diabetes will experience feet-related problems at some point. This is one of the most common issues and can become severe in some cases. There are even scenarios where the amputation of the lower limb may be necessary.
Diabetic neuropathy is one of the main enemies here. This is what causes pain sensations in your feet. If you have experienced a tingling sensation or found that you do not have any feelings in your lower limb – then you most likely have diabetic neuropathy.
This is essentially nerve-related damage that diabetes causes. It develops gradually. At first, you may notice sessions where there is a tingling sensation in your foot. As the neuropathy develops, pain may later start to become present along with the tingling sensations.
With this in mind, there are times where a cut may affect your foot without your notice.
Couple this with the reduced blood flow in your lower limbs – yes, diabetes is the cause here as well. When there is not enough blood in your feet, then these cuts can quickly become infected. Once an infection starts, treatment becomes difficult. It takes longer for wounds to heal in diabetic patients. With insufficient blood flow, it takes even longer to cure an infection.
Some people experience infections that never truly heals. This can sometimes lead to a much worse condition, known as gangrene. The condition is a serious complication of diabetes and often required amputation.
An amputation is only done when it is critical. An amputation’s primary purpose is to help reduce the infection risk, causing more serious concern – such as spreading throughout your entire body. This could end up saving your life in many cases.
A Foot Massage And Diabetes: My Experience
There are ways to care for your feet, control your blood sugar levels, and reduce the risks of diabetic complications. Even with these factors in place, there are times where you may still find that blood flow and nerve damage remain active concerns in your feet.
This is why I decided to opt for a foot massage after a recommendation from a good friend.
A foot massage for diabetes – it was something new to me. I already know about foot massages, but my primary idea of these techniques was to help relieve tension. I did, however, decide to give it a try.
Several benefits come with a foot massage, particularly when considering this technique on a diabetic patient. Here’s an overview of the benefits that were mentioned to me:
- Massage stimulates the blood circulatory system. The area where the massage is performed may experience an increase in blood flow. As already noted, poor blood circulation in the feet is a common issue in people with diabetes. Thus, this seemed to be a significant potential benefit.
- Inflammation may be reduced with a regular massage. My feet were swollen at times – which means inflammation was something I suffered. The enhancement in blood flow is one of the critical elements that cause inflammation levels to come down.
- The pain was a common burden that sometimes limited my ability to walk normally. With a massage, it was advised that pain could also be alleviated.
- Another potential benefit was the promotion of healing. Since cuts and wounds take longer to heal in people with diabetes, this is an advantage that becomes critical for people who want to prevent infections in their feet and lower limbs.
While these benefits are clearly noted, it is not always possible to feel more blood flowing to your legs – which is why I thought sharing my personal experience might be a good idea.
What I first felt as the therapist started with the foot massage was relaxation and calm. I have noted previously that the brain releases endorphins during a foot massage, which could enhance your mood. This might be why I felt so calm and relaxed.
As the therapist continued with the massage, the tingling sensation in my feet started to fade – right there. The pain also became less noticeable in my feet. These were the initial effects that the massage was able to offer me. When I stood up, I did not experience pain when walking – which already told me that the massage was a great idea.
I have had several sessions of foot massages now. I regularly visit the therapist to get a message. Since the first session, I have noticed much less swelling in my feet. I feel more comfortable when walking. I do not experience pain when I lay down in bed, which always kept me awake at night. Now, I can finally sleep more peacefully – which is also an essential element for the body’s natural abilities to heal itself.
What The Experts Say
The great thing about foot massages for diabetic patients is that the claims are not only based on what therapists have to say. There are scientific studies done on this topic – which helps you understand how exactly the technique may benefit you.
In one study, a Thai foot massage was used to determine how these techniques may affect a patient’s diabetes foot. A two-week study period was introduced. There were two groups who participated in the study. Only one group received this treatment.
Following the study period, there was a significant improvement in sensations within the feet of patients who received the Thai foot massage. Additionally, patients also noted an improved balance in their feet, which may reduce the risk of falls – especially among older people.
Another benefit noted by the researchers was the increased range of motion in these patients. The range of motion is vital for walking and several other activities. It also contributes to better comfort while using the feet, yet it is sometimes restricted when nerve damage affects the feet.
Foot reflexology was the focal point in another study. Patients who participated had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It should be noted that this study showed reflexology to yield benefits for more than just the feet of the treated patient.
Hydration throughout the body was improved, and there was a visible improvement in skin integrity. Several other advantages in terms of skin health were reported in the feet and other parts of the body. Furthermore, scores related to perspiration also improved significantly in the group who received foot reflexology sessions.
Some of these benefits might even be achievable at home. A few at-home foot massagers on the market help to stimulate blood flow and help relieve aches and pains. The Miko foot massager is just one such example, assisting many people in experiencing relief without the need to visit a specialist.
My Thoughts On A Foot Massage For Diabetes
Today, I am a firm believer that a foot massage and diabetes go hand-in-hand. Neuropathy is prevalent with diabetes. It can cause unpleasant sensations in your feet and lead to pain, numbness, and even weakness. A regular massage helps to keep my blood circulation in check. It also helps to reduce nerve damage and improve my familiar sensations in my feet.