July 12, 2021

Diabetes is an illness that causes difficulties in your bodies processes of converting glucose from food into necessary energy. Resulting in hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels).

In a healthy body, blood glucose levels are regulated by insulin, which is a hormone produced in the pancreas.

Insulin is responsible for converting glucose into energy.

Diabetes occurs when your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or your body becomes resistant to insulin.

Diabetes is categorised into Type one diabetes, Type two diabetes, and gestational diabetes.

Type one diabetes

Type one diabetes is an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin.

In type one diabetes the pancreas does not produce insulin, because its cells have been destroyed by the bodies immune system. Which means that the body can not turn glucose into energy.

Type one diabetes accounts for about 10% of all cases of diabetes, and onset of the disease is usually abrupt. Often with sudden symptoms of increased urination, hunger and lethargy, excessive thirst, sudden or unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, leg cramps, headaches or dizziness, mood swings, and slow or poor wound healing.

Type one diabetes is managed with insulin injections, and people with the disease will be dependant upon this insulin replacement daily. And will also be required to test and monitor their blood sugar levels several times a day.

Replacement insulin is essential for those diagnosed with type one diabetes as without insulin the body burns its own fats for energy as a substitute to glucose which releases chemical substances in the blood. Without ongoing injections of insulin, the dangerous chemical substances will accumulate and can be life threatening if it is not treated.

Currently the exact cause of type one diabetes is not yet known. Though it is known that it has a strong family link.

At this stage nothing can be done to prevent or cure type one diabetes. However maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle still remains extremely important for those with type one diabetes.

Type two diabetes

Type two diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, representing 85-90% of all diabetes cases.

Type two diabetes occurs when either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, when insulin does not work effectively, when the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively (known as insulin resistance), or a combination of any of these factors.

In type two diabetes, the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin. This causes glucose to stay in the blood, leading to a higher than normal levels of glucose in the body.

Type two diabetes develops over a long period of time, often over years, during which insulin resistance starts. Marking the beginning of inefficiency in insulin’s management of blood glucose levels.

During this process, as insulin becomes increasingly ineffective in managing blood glucose, the pancreas begins to respond by increasing its insulin production amounts in order to try and regulate blood glucose levels.

As such, due to exhaustion from overproduction of insulin, the pancreas cells become worn out and unable to function. And by the time someone is diagnosed with type two diabetes, they have often lost 50 – 70% of their insulin producing cells.

Many people with type two diabetes display no symptoms, and the disease can often go undiagnosed over a long period of time. Symptoms of type two diabetes include increased urination, hunger and lethargy, excessive thirst, slow weight gain, blurred vision, leg cramps, headaches or dizziness, mood swings, itching or skin infections, and slow or poor wound healing.

Type two diabetes  has strong genetic and family related risk factors, and often if someone has a family member with diabetes then they will be at high risk of having a genetic predisposition to diabetes two.

This genetic predisposition and risk is increased if that person also has high blood pressure, is overweight, insufficient physical activity, or a poor diet. Which is why a healthy and active lifestyle is of the upmost importance to those with diabetes.

Type two diabetes management relies heavily on healthy eating and regular physical activity. However, over time some people will also need medication and/or insulin to mitigate the risk of any long term complications associated with


There is currently no cure for type two diabetes, however with lifestyle modifications and an active healthy lifestyle, the disease can often be managed effectively.

Physiotherapy & Diabetes

In summary, Type one diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells in pancreas that produce insulin.

Without enough insulin the body’s cells can’t absorb glucose which collects in the blood and leads to high blood glucose levels

People with type one diabetes manage their condition by injecting insulin into their body.

Type type two diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance, and/or insulin inefficiency, and/or insulin deficiency.

Type two diabetes can often be managed through good health, diet, and exercise.


In cases of both type one and type two diabetes, a person with either disease is at a greater risk of many subsequent diseases such as heart and kidney disease.

Therefore increasing the importance, with either type one or type two diabetes, to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, in order to manage the risks associated with diabetes one and two.

Physiotherapy is a wonderful therapeutic tool in the management of diabetes.

Physiotherapy plays an important role in the management of diabetes, from assisting in the prevention of diabetes to recovery from the condition.

Your Physiotherapist will work with you to assess your physical condition and create an exercise program that is tailored to your individual health care needs.

Exercise can help to mange your blood glucose levels and also encourages your insulin to work more effectively by making your cells use more glucose.

Exercise also helps to manage the complicating factors associated with diabetes as it will help to manage an appropriate weight for your body. And also regulates cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.

Your Physiotherapist is an important part of your diabetes management team, so let us help you to get started on the road to managing your diabetes!
You can contact our team of professional mobile Physiotherapists at MoveWell 2 LiveWell, and together we will work with you to help you to lead the healthy and happy life that you want.

Check out the Australian Physiotherapy Association article on Diabetes and Physiotherapy here

Please also note that the information contained within this blogis not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. And that MoveWell 2 LiveWell advises to always seek the advice of your Physiotherapist, doctor, or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns that you may have about your health and your medical condition.