Immediate Effects of Self-Thai Foot Massage on Skin Blood Flow, Skin Temperature, and Range of Motion of the Foot and Ankle in Type 2 Diabetic Patients

J Altern Complement Med. 2020 Jun;26(6):491-500. doi: 10.1089/acm.2019.0328. Epub 2020 Apr 28.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ankle / blood supply
  • Ankle / physiopathology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / therapy*
  • Female
  • Foot / blood supply
  • Foot / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Regional Blood Flow*
  • Self Care / methods
  • Skin Temperature*
  • Thailand