Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the immediate effects of self-Thai foot massages (STFMs) on the foot skin blood flow, the foot skin temperature, and range of motion (ROM) of the foot and ankle in type 2 diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. Design: A randomized crossover study. Subjects: Twenty five diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy were recruited. Interventions: Participants were randomly assigned to either STFM or Thai foot massage (TFM) performed by a massage therapist; then, they were switched to the other group after a 1-week washout period. In both groups, the foot massage was performed in a seated position on the dominant lower leg and foot for 25 min. Outcome measures: Before and immediately after treatment, foot skin blood flow, foot skin temperature, and ROM of the foot and ankle were evaluated. Heart rate was measured throughout the treatment. Results: After a single treatment of the massage, foot skin blood flow and ROM of the foot and ankle significantly improved in both groups (p < 0.05). Foot skin temperature did not change in STFM, whereas it significantly increased in TFM. Heart rate significantly increased in STFM, whereas it tended to decrease in TFM. Conclusions: Both STFM and TFM by a massage therapist could improve foot skin blood flow and ROM of the foot and ankle in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. An STFM could be a promising alternative treatment that patients can perform at home.
Keywords: Thai massage; diabetic foot; self-treatment.