Diabetes is a chronic disorder that hampers insulin production in the body, a chemical that controls the conversion of food to energy or glucose. Based on your form of diabetes, the body cannot produce adequate insulin or utilize it efficiently. Further, the chemical enables insulin storage in the liver, so the body can receive what it needs. When the chemical is insufficient, or the body is not responding appropriately, blood sugar builds up, resulting in conditions like kidney disease, blindness, and heart disease.

Apart from medication, you can manage diabetes through daily exercise, eating healthily, and maintaining a healthy weight. Sadly, by the time you receive a diagnosis, you will have developed some medical conditions like diabetic neuropathy or metabolic syndrome that make exercising difficult. At this point, physical therapy (PT) helps manage the disease. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we have explained the symptoms of diabetes and how our PT services in Las Vegas, NV, can help you manage the chronic disorder and give you back your old life before the disease.

Diabetes Definition

Also called diabetes mellitus, diabetes refers to a chronic disorder that hampers your body’s capacity to convert food into energy.

When you take food, the body converts it into glucose or sugar, which goes into your bloodstream, giving you the energy you need to perform your routines. If the amount of glucose in your bloodstream increases, the body signals the pancreas to produce insulin, the hormone controlling digestion and sugar production. When your body fails to produce sufficient hormones or halts its response to the chemical, sugar collects in the bloodstream, causing hyperglycemia, which is toxic to body cells and causes many health issues.

Diabetes Types

The three main forms of diabetes are:

  • Type 1/Juvenile Diabetes

As the name suggests, type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, is common among juveniles or teenagers. Under this condition, the child's body cannot produce insulin, or the amounts produced are insufficient to regulate digestion and sugar. It occurs when the juvenile’s immune system damages the beta cells responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas. Juvenile diabetes is autoimmune, which means it is not lifestyle related and can only stem from genetic predisposition or, other times, a virus. You can manage the condition through insulin shots, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet.

  • Type 2

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ninety to ninety-five percent of individuals diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 kind. The condition happens when your body cells become resistant to insulin, and the pancreas cannot produce sufficient chemicals to outweigh the cells’ resistance. The disorder is common among adults and is manageable through lifestyle changes and medication without requiring insulin shots.

  • Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women are at an elevated risk of developing gestational diabetes because of weight gain and a poor lifestyle. The condition is severe because it endangers the lives of the mother and the unborn baby. If you develop the disease, you are at risk for type 2 high blood sugar. Therefore, you must manage the disorder by losing weight and adjusting your lifestyle program.

It is worth mentioning that there is no definite cause of juvenile or type 1 diabetes, but the causes of gestational and type 2 blood sugar are known. They include poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity. These causes are preventable with a few changes to your lifestyle and diet. If you fail to make lifestyle changes and you develop any of these types of diabetes, you will end up with severe complications like:

  • Stroke.
  • Heart condition.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Skins conditions like ulcers and sores.
  • Eye disease causing vision loss.
  • Frailty and reduced physical function.
  • Neuropathy.
  • Hypertension.
  • Death of cells in the feet and toes, otherwise called necrosis.
  • Amputations.
  • Heart attacks.
  • Premature deaths.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Each type of diabetes has its own unique symptoms. Nevertheless, the signs that are common with all kinds of diabetes are:

  • Weight loss.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Slow healing of sores.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination.

The general symptoms prevalent among men include reduced libido, muscle weakness, and erectile dysfunction. Among women, the common symptoms of all diabetes types include urinary tract infections (UTIs), dry and itchy skin, and yeast infections.

In addition to the common symptoms, you will experience blurry vision, fatigue, and mood swings when you develop type 1 or juvenile diabetes.

The unique symptoms you will experience alongside the general ones in type 2 are recurring infections, fatigue, and blurry vision.

Lastly, gestational diabetes has no specific symptoms apart from the general ones. You can only know when you have the disease during routine sugar testing when your pregnancy is around 24 to 28 weeks.

Diabetes Diagnosis

A doctor makes a diabetes diagnosis by conducting a blood sugar level test. They recommend the test if you exhibit or experience symptoms of the disease. After diagnosis, several treatments are available, not to cure but to manage these symptoms.

Treatment for Diabetes

The primary treatment for juvenile diabetes is insulin shots. The shots aim at reducing the hormones your body cannot produce, managing the symptoms. Several forms of insulin are available based on the time to start working and their duration.

The rapid-acting form of insulin starts working within fifteen minutes of the shot and serves you for an average of three to four hours.

The second form of insulin is short-acting, which kicks in within half an hour and persists for six to eight hours.

The third insulin option is intermediate-acting. It takes one to two hours to start working and lasts twelve to eighteen hours.

Lastly, the long-acting drug takes several hours before kicking in and can persist for an entire day.

The management of type 2 diabetes does not require insulin. All you need to do is make diet and lifestyle adjustments. However, if these alone cannot manage the symptoms, your doctor can put you on the following medications:

  • Sulfonylureas.
  • Biguanides.
  • Meglitinides.
  • Thiazolidinedione.
  • DPP-4 Inhibitors.
  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors.

Gestational diabetes has no medication. Your doctor will advise you to observe your blood sugars daily and make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes.

Diabetes PT Program

When your doctor diagnoses you with high blood sugar or diabetes, you should try a PT program to manage the condition and live a healthy life. At Suarez Physical Therapy, we help diabetic patients integrate safe physical activity into their exercise programs to lower sugar levels in their bloodstream. This enhances mobility and physical activity performance and alleviates pain without the need for medication. Also, we examine your skin for diabetic-related conditions like ulcers, wounds, and infections to develop a tailored treatment that addresses your unique needs. The program entails the following exercises:

Movement and Power Training

The physical therapist we assign you will pick activities to help reinstate normal body locomotion. The program begins with inert movements that focus on the joints. The gentle motions on the joints help you evolve gradually to active workouts performed in person.

Once you start to stretch and actively exercise without help, your therapist moves to the next level of the program, which is the gradual introduction of strength exercise. Strength exercises are tailored to steadily increase the entire body's strength steadily.

Endurance Exercise

Diabetes is associated with general body weakness, primarily due to a lack of energy. Our therapists can help you recover the energy necessary to return to your routines through endurance and strength training. If you want to return to your regular routine, your therapist will begin your exercises on a treadmill or bike and gradually move to more energetic or vigorous activities.

Balance and Coordination Training

Part of the effect of diabetes on patients is a lack of body coordination and balance. Your physical therapist can help restore balance through specific exercises. That way, you can resume your routine without fear of falling.

Flexibility Training

When you visit us for our services, we will examine your muscles to determine if they are tight and begin gentle stretches. Additionally, we will train you on the proper movements and stretches you can perform for enhanced flexibility.

Pain Levels

Diabetic neuropathy can cause severe chronic pain. PT programs can help alleviate the pain using various technologies and techniques. Your therapist will recommend the safest and most effective exercises you can perform to regulate and relieve pain. Also, these professionals will explain various ways to protect areas with damaged nerves from pain. Your therapist from Suarez Physical Therapy will adjust some of your daily activities to prevent injuries from accidents caused by diminished balance, weakness, and a lack of coordination.

Wound Care Therapy

Diabetic patients with wounds experience slow healing. If you have slow-healing wounds, our therapists will introduce PT that enables blood circulation around the wounded area, giving the injury sufficient blood and oxygen to speed up the healing process. We will incorporate manual and compression therapy, electric stimulation, and other techniques to care for the wound.

Curing Sores

The most common symptoms among diabetic patients are skin sores and ulcers. We understand this, so part of one PT program incorporates bandaging, dressing, and treating sores. If you have foot ulcers, we will check your shoes to determine if they fit your condition. Also, our physical therapists will train you to check your feet and skin for developing blisters, ulcers, or sores and treat them early for faster healing.

Lastly, we will train you on home exercises like aerobics that you can do at home to improve muscle strength. Furthermore, we will discuss your goals for therapy and customize a PT program that helps you attain these goals.

Your First Visit

At Suarez Physical Therapy, we understand the severity of diabetes. We know the panic and stress you experience when diagnosed with the disease. Nevertheless, with our education and PT programs, you will learn to manage stress and feel in control, which are essential to enhancing your quality of life.

Part of your preparation for the visit to our offices should involve jotting down your symptoms and expectations at the program's end. You should bring these records to the appointment so we can discuss every item you have highlighted.

When you come in, our therapist will request that you walk around as they evaluate your functions. This could feel uncomfortable if you are dressed inappropriately. Therefore, ensure you dress comfortably for the appointment.  

The initial visit aims to understand your disorder and its impact on your daily activities and quality of life. Once we know the problem, we then discuss the goals. The first visit to our offices entails the following:

  • A detailed analysis of your medical records.
  • If you are currently on medication, we will contact the prescribing physician to understand how the drugs affect blood sugar.
  • A detailed analysis of your signs.
  • A review of your body weight and mass index to develop attainable goals and track progress.
  • Assess your movement, including strength, endurance, flexibility, and motion.

PT and Surgery

Diabetes can cause extreme damage to specific body parts, like the legs, requiring amputation. Your PT can prepare you for the operation and help you recover post-surgery. Also, because amputation is usually painful, your PT will help you manage pain and educate you on exercises for faster healing. If you need a prosthetic after the surgery, the physical therapist will help you find the right fit and how to use it effectively. With the help of these professionals, you will learn to walk and perform your routines safely with the prosthesis.

Advantages of Using PT to Manage Diabetes

Working with a physical therapist to manage diabetes is encouraged because these professionals have experience working with patients with a disorder like yours. In the line of duty, therapists face various challenges and concerns that diabetic patients have that prevent them from being physically active and exercising. Because they are familiar with the difficulties, they can easily foresee and tackle them when developing your PT program to streamline your treatment and meet your expectations. The advantages of relying on PT to regulate diabetes are:

  • Creates a Safe Setting for Exercise

Most people with diabetes are unfit or suffer from diabetic neuropathy, making it challenging to balance or feel. Others suffer from cardiovascular disease or obesity and are afraid of exercising. Exercising when you are out of shape or do not know the safe and effective way to engage in physical exercise puts you at risk of suffering injuries. Unsupervised training for some diabetic patients is dangerous, so you are encouraged to visit a physical therapist. These professionals provide you with a safe and supervised environment for exercise to maximize benefits and avoid injuries.

  • Offer Tailored PT Programs Depending on your Health and Fitness Levels

At Suarez Physical Therapy, we work with you to develop a bespoke PT program specific to your diabetes complications and shape. If you suffer from diabetic neuropathy, a lack of balance and coordination, obesity, or arthritis, you cannot physically exercise. You need to partner with us for a bespoke PT program that considers the health conditions you suffer from due to diabetes. PT will help you achieve this goal over time to regain muscle strength, balance and enhance general conditioning.

  • Offer Tailored Adjunct Treatments When Necessary

A profound physical therapist will incorporate massage and aquatic or anodyne therapies into your PT program to reduce neuropathy and arthritis symptoms in patients. That way, even if the diabetes complications make it impossible to exercise, you can continue engaging in physical therapy, which most people with your condition cannot.

  • You Partner With a Team of Professionals to Regulate Your Blood Sugars

Suarez Physical Therapy partners with other professionals like nutritionists, doctors, and dietitians to ensure you make the necessary lifestyle modifications that complement PT, making it more effective in managing diabetes and its symptoms and helping you stay healthy.

Choosing a Physical Therapist for Diabetes

Your choice of physical therapist must have the proper education and training to deal with diabetic patients or individuals at risk of developing diabetes. If you are searching for a professional, the best place to begin is Find a PT. It is an American Physical Therapy Association online tool that simplifies your search for a therapist with the training and skills you seek based on your locality.

Apart from looking online, you can talk to friends, colleagues, or relatives who have been through PT before and successfully managed diabetes for recommendations. Write down a list of these referrals and schedule a meeting to inquire about the therapist’s experience handling diabetes cases. Ensure you have written down your symptoms during the visit and explain when they are severe to know the program the therapist will use to reduce or eliminate them.

Find a Knowledgeable Las Vegas Physical Therapist Near Me

Diabetes is challenging to manage, but PT can make a difference. It is non-invasive and safe for diabetes management alongside medication. If you need PT for diabetes, Suarez Physical Therapy can help you manage the symptoms and regain healthy functioning. We have state-of-the-art equipment and highly-trained therapists knowledgeable in diabetes willing to restore joy in your life. Call us today at 702-368-6778 to book an appointment in Las Vegas, NV.