Advanced Practice PT - September 2022

Many people know you go to a physical therapist if you've sustained an injury, but did you know physical therapy can also treat diabetes? Here’s how PT can make a diabetic patient’s life better, one session at a time. What is diabetes, and how does it develop? When we consume certain foods (candy, fruit, bread), our body will break it down into glucose — an important energy source for living organisms. Diabetes is a condition where your body isn’t producing enough insulin, which is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Without insulin, your body can develop high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. That’s why diabetes can have such a dramatic effect on your health — if high blood sugar goes untreated, it can damage your nerves, blood vessels, tissues, and organs. These issues can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and may even lead to eye damage, kidney damage, and non-healing wounds. Many diabetic patients will experience common symptoms such as tingling or numbness in their hands or feet, fatigue, blurry vision, increased hunger, and other side effects. The good news is that these symptoms can be mitigated — and, believe it or not, physical therapy can be a great way of managing these symptoms. Fight Smarter, Not Harder How Physical Therapy Fights Diabetes

You can fight diabetes with fitness. Diabetes can develop at any age. When it does, many physical problems can develop alongside it, including weakness, loss of endurance, obesity, balance problems, and even chronic pain. Not to mention, diabetes typically leads to less physical activity overall — which can cause many other health issues. This may create a bit of a paradox for some diabetic patients. Physical activity and exercise have been proven to be effective ways to lower high blood sugar levels. Yet, by the time a diabetic patient comes to see a physical therapist, the patient may be very limited in the types of movements they can do. Attempting exercise without guidance can cause injury and worsen the patient’s health. Thankfully, physical therapists are movement experts! They can help patients discover new techniques to exercise in safe, enjoyable ways. These, in turn, will help patients take control of their symptoms again. Diabetes rarely affects two people in the same way, and it often requires highly customized treatment plans. However, depending on a patient’s abilities and their likes and dislikes, a physical therapist may recommend exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, aerobic dance, or even yoga. Attending a yoga class is a great way to get your balance back. It’s not as physically exerting as other forms of exercise, since yoga trains the body over time. It can also provide major mental health benefits. If you suffer from diabetes, know that nobody has to fight it alone. With a physical therapist on your side, you can fight anything, including a disease that can be as exhausting as diabetes. We’ll have your back. Just give our offices a call.


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