How physical therapy can help manage diabetes
Diabetes is a condition in which the body fails to produce adequate amounts of insulin, leading to an imbalance in the body’s blood sugar levels. Diabetes, if left untreated, can also give rise to various complications such as heart diseases, high blood pressure, kidney disease, elevated cholesterol and stroke. But, diabetes can be controlled with a combination of medication, good diet and exercise. Regular physical activity can also help prevent diabetes.
For those who are diagnosed with diabetes, regular exercise and maintaining your body weight becomes very important. This is where a physical therapist (PT) comes in play. A good PT can not only chalk up an exercise regime that is specific to your needs but also help you manage precautions while exercising. As diabetes can also cause some problems like muscle and joint pain, stroke, difficulty walking or numbness in feet, physical therapy can help deal with these issues.
One may argue that medication can be enough to treat diabetes without any need for physical therapy. Although proper medication is certainly important, physical therapy also plays a vital role in the treatment of diabetes. Here are a few ways in which physical therapy can help manage diabetes:
- Because diabetes affects each person differently, its treatment also needs to be tailored to suit that person’s specific needs. The PT will develop individual treatment programs to help the patient cope with their specific problems. In accordance with your health, a PT will draw up an exercise plan, which might include moderate or vigorous aerobics, exercising with weights or cardio exercises based on your needs.
- Your therapist will recommend physical activity only after carefully studying your condition. People with Type 1 diabetes coupled with hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) are at the risk of having ketones in their urine. When your body breaks down fat to create energy, it produces ketones. A physical therapist will check for this symptom and then decide on the kind of exercise you can safely perform.
- Diabetes is known to cause weight gain in most people. Because of the various complications of the disease, physical activity becomes drastically reduced leading to deconditioning in patients. Deconditioning, in turn, leads to several complications of its own and makes a healthy lifestyle all the more difficult to achieve. It causes roadblocks such as arthritis, muscle pain, back pain or obesity that leads to orthopedic problems. PTs are experienced with dealing with such problems and can make the goal of a healthy lifestyle seem achievable. They address these problems so that patients with diabetes can get started with improving their overall health.
- Diabetes can also give rise to an eye disease called retinopathy. Retinopathy is a disease which causes damage to the retina. Diabetic retinopathy may lead to certain limitations in activity. A PT will take this limitation into account and then prescribe an appropriate exercise routine.
- Another common problem associated with diabetes is numbness, tingling or pain in the feet and hands. This is caused by poor blood circulation known as diabetic neuropathy. If left untreated diabetic neuropathy can also spread to the rest of your limbs. This can be a very serious problem as it can lead to injuries without the person’s knowledge. With regular physical therapy this disorder can be treated.
- Your physical therapist will also ensure that you do not suffer from other diabetes related disorders, such as foot ulcers or heart problems, when they prescribe your exercise routine. If you are suffering from foot ulcers, your PT will advise you to not indulge in activities that need you to bear you weight down, such as jogging or cycling. Similarly, for those suffering from heart problems, your PT will advise you to go for cardiac testing after a safe exercise routine will be drawn up for you.
Physical therapists are well-trained to treat diabetic or pre-diabetic patients. But, when choosing the right physical therapist for you, make sure that the PT has adequate experience with patients with diabetes. Also, make sure to get recommendations from friends and family.
Author Bio: Sameer Gupta is an experienced healthcare writer loves writing informative articles that inform patients about the effectiveness of chiropractic care. An experienced prolific writer, Sameer makes sure that the complex medical jargon is conveyed in a manner which is easy to understand.