Physiotherapy is an ancient science, which involves physical treatment techniques, such as massage, and the use of electrotherapeutic and mechanical agents – rather than drug therapy – for the management of a condition. Physiotherapists play an important role in helping people to overcome disability and pain related to orthopaedic, musculoskeletal, neurological and rheumatological illnesses.
Any person with diabetes whose aching legs have experienced relief after a massage, or whose painful feet have been relaxed after a soak in cool water will testify to the importance of physiotherapy in relieving their symptoms.
The Diabetes Prevention Project demonstrated that lifestyle modification, including intensive exercise, is more effective in preventing diabetes than pharmacological therapy, and highlighted the role of trained professionals in motivating people to follow lifestyle interventions. Similar results have been reported by the Malmö Study, the Da Qing Study, the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study and the Wenying Study. Physiotherapists are able to help people, to plan an individualized exercise programme in order to maintain good blood glucose control and achieve optimal weight.
Furthermore, physiotherapy leads to metabolic improvements even in the absence of weight loss, reducing the frequency of cardiovascular events and improving life expectancy. Effective exercise counseling ensures both cardio-respiratory and musculoskeletal fitness. This helps people with diabetes improve their quality of life, and contributes to overall control of blood glucose. The use of alternative therapies, such as yoga, can contribute to the achievement of optimal cardio-respiratory health.