Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where nerve damage is caused by diabetes. Nerves are important as they carry brain signals to the rest of your body. These signals may control pain, movement, or other bodily functions.
Diabetic neuropathy normally damages the nerves in your feet and legs. This can cause sharp, intense foot pain. It may also lead to a loss of sensation, making these areas numb. As blood flow is reduced, wounds or cuts on the feet can take more time to heal.
Why you should buy a foot massager
If you are experiencing diabetic neuropathy symptoms, a foot massager may be a worthwhile investment!
Massage can help with pain relief by improving blood flow and circulation. This can improve swelling, numbness, and loss of sensation within the feet. Foot massage may even prevent neuropathy issues from occurring later on.
There are endless foot and leg massagers on the market, including ones with heat features and air compression. There are so many available to purchase, but this doesn’t make it easier to choose between products!
If you’re struggling to choose a foot massager, you’re in the right place! We’ve searched far and wide to find the best foot massagers for people living with diabetes, which you’ll find below.
We’ve also included a buying guide in the end of the article. It will cover why foot massage is so beneficial for people living with diabetes, as well as the things you should look out for when purchasing a foot massager.
Whether you prefer a massager with lots of settings or one that’s easy to carry around, you’re sure to find a foot massager you love in the list below!
Foot massager review
This shiatsu foot & calf massager is our top pick for people suffering from neuropathy and diabetic foot pain.
It combines heat and air compression to improve blood flow and relieve tension with both rolling massage and a sway function.
It has five different settings and three intensity levels so you can fully customize your massage to your needs.
It’s fully adjustable to your size and offers multiple massage positions thanks to its 360-degree rotating bar.
- Targets feet, ankles, and calves at the same time
- Many settings and intensity levels to choose from
- Portable, and quiet
- Controls aren't very intuitive so reading the manual is recommended
The Breo foot massager comes with deep kneading, compression, scraping, rolling, and heating functions at a very affordable price.
It has three options of compression intensity and various massage modes, giving you a lot of control over the type and intensity of massage.
It also has an optional heat function that goes from 104 to 122 ℉ (40-45 C).
The foot sleeves are removable and washable, making it easy to clean.
- Great value - Better price than comparable massagers
- Adjustable - pressure, heat, and massage type can be adjusted
- Lightweight - Easy to move and store
- Does not massage the calves
This electric foot massager is equipped with a rotation ball, rolling stick, and heating for the ultimate 3-in-1 massage for your feet.
It has 3 kneading and 3 squeeze intensities that can be adjusted to suit your personal preference.
The design is one-size-fits-all with an enlarged foot space that can accommodate up to men’s size 12 feet.
- Good value - You get the most important features for a reasonable price
- Flexible - Multiple kneading and squeezing settings
- Practical - It's cordless and lightweight
- Does not massage the calves
- Only one position
The Human Touch Reflex SOL is designed to massage both the feet and the calves. It uses technology that circulates blood flow through powerful Shiatsu massage.
The massage technique applies deep pressure and vibrations to relax the muscles. It has an ergonomic design that accommodates several foot sizes, increasing up to a men’s size 12.
This massager has two intensity settings and an adjustable tilt, so it can adapt to a range of seating and pressure preferences.
Additionally, the sleeve inserts can be removed for easy cleaning, so they won’t harbor bacteria.
- Adaptable tilt base – The base can be adjusted to several angles and seating positions
- Removable inserts – Inserts can be removed and cleaned easily
- Not that many intensity settings
With 18 massage nodes and 6 heads, this foot massager will certainly get to any neglected muscles in your feet! The massage nodes rotate to deliver a bi-directional massage, while the larger heads contact every inch of your foot.
This device also has a heating feature that can be turned off manually when you don’t need to use it. The massager only delivers mild heat, so it won’t get too hot or cause burns.
The power button is placed just below the footpads so you can turn the massager on and off with the touch of a toe. One press activates the shiatsu-style massage, while another activates the feat function.
The machine can be carried around easily thanks to its integrated carry handle. It can also be adjusted to 3 different height levels, so it will suit a large range of angle preferences.
- Optional heat feature - User has a choice of using heat therapy alongside massage
- Lots of massage nodes - Maximizes the machines contact with foot muscles
- Toe-touch switch - The user doesn’t have to bend down to activate the device
- It may not work well on feet with high arches
- Only one massage setting
This massager covers the feet and extends up to the lower leg, which works well to massage both the feet and the calves. It has a controller attached which manages 2 massage techniques and 3 intensity settings.
The two massage techniques are different from each other, so you can enjoy a compression massage, or a kneading, stroking motion.
The foot and leg wraps can accommodate different leg sizes, extending up to 22 inches wide for larger people.
The design is relatively light and comes with a storage mesh bag. This lets you move the massager around with you and store it away for later use.
It also has a 20-minute safety function that turns if off automatically.
- Remote control – Makes it easy to control the settings
- Lots of sizes – Accommodates many sizes and builds
- Safety timer feature – You can worry less about leaving it on as it turns it off automatically
- It can’t massage one leg as both air pumps need to be attached to the controls
This powerful machine has an incredible amount of settings! With 11 speeds from 1,000 to 3,700 revolutions per minute, this device can suit lots of different massage preferences.
The footpad can oscillate and has many pressure points on it. It has an arch bar for your feet to rest on and is designed to rest at three positions. These angles let your feet and legs rest at a comfortable level.
This massager is just 16lbs so you can move it around your home easily. It’s also only 16 inches wide, so you can store it away when it isn’t needed.
It does have a lot of settings, but it doesn’t come with a remote control or timer. This means that you do have to lean down and adjust these manually.
However, its many settings and large footpad make it suitable for a range of foot sizes and needs.
- 11-speed settings – ideal for a range of speed preferences.
- Pad has 3 adjustable angles – can be changed for different heights and comfort levels
- Higher speed settings can be noisy
This foot massager is small, but it is very powerful! The tool is ergonomically designed to fit well within the arch of a foot. Each side is raised to massage the ball and heel of the foot too.
This is a manual foot massager, so it won’t have as many features as an electric model. However, it has several raised points which work well to massage the feet. The points are placed close together so they maximize contact with your feet. This ensures that it reaches your smaller muscles and ligaments.
The tool looks like a tube that helps the user roll it across the floor as they use it. It’s just 7.2 inches long and 10.58 ounces in weight. This lets you carry it around with you easily.
- Small size – Portable and easy to store away
- Lots of little massage points – Maximizes contact with muscles in your feet
- Can only massage one foot at a time
Not sure what you need from your foot massager? Check out our buying guide below to see what features you should keep an eye out for!
The link between diabetes and your feet
People with diabetes need to look after their feet more than others. Foot wounds, no matter how small, can cause severe complications, like diabetic neuropathy.
Greater blood sugar levels can cause injury to blood vessels. This means blood flow will decrease, especially in the feet. If blood cannot flow freely, the wounds will struggle to heal, so your feet may become weaker.
It’s very important to maintain proper blood flow towards your nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetic Neuropathy refers to a neurological disorder. This occurs when nerve damage causes intense chronic pain.
One type of diabetic neuropathy which is particularly painful is peripheral neuropathy. This is a potential complication that can arise in those with diabetes.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can happen in those with long-term diabetes mellitus. Any interruptions to blood supply or high blood sugar can affect movement and sensory nerves within the legs. This is sometimes referred to as diabetic polyneuropathy.
This pain may be intense and hard to manage. Medication may be prescribed, but it often doesn’t have the desired effects. These medicines are mainly prescribed by doctors, delivered through the bloodstream, or applied topically as a skin ointment.
Other things that may help are foot cream shoe inserts which can soothe the pain as the wearer walks. Electric foot massagers can be even more effective, as massage increases blood flow to the feet. This relieves some of the pain generated by diabetic neuropathy.
Prescribed medications can help, but they are around 30% – 50% effective at relieving pain. This is why those living with diabetic neuropathy may find massage more effective than medicines.
What are diabetic foot massagers?
Foot massagers for diabetics are machines that massage your feet, and in some cases, may do the same for your lower calf. These can be necessary items for diabetes patients, as they can relieve painful and fatigued feet.
When the feet are massaged with the device, the feet start receiving a mechanical foot massage. This improves blood circulation, which raises the oxygen content within the blood. This may also affect the patient’s energy levels.
Foot massage may also affect blood pressure, which relieves sore or tired feet. At the same time, the lymphatic system and blood circulation are encouraged to rid themselves of waste products.
Additionally, massage also soothes the muscles so they can relax and recover. Regular foot massage also lowers the risk of foot ulcers, and may even restore damaged nerve functions in the feet.
Main advantages of foot massagers
Here are some of the main benefits that foot massagers can have for people living with diabetes.
Improves blood circulation
Foot massagers can help to increase blood circulation throughout your whole body, including your feet. Better blood circulation can stop foot ulcers from forming, defend against infections, prevent blood clots, and can speed up recovery from wounds.
Decreases feet swelling
Swollen feet can occur for several reasons, including kidney disease, high blood pressure, and pregnancy. Foot massage can help eliminate extra fluid from building up within your legs. This improves discomfort, supports kidney function, and maintains the body’s ideal sodium balance.
Raises nerve sensitivity
When foot massage is carried out properly, it can increase blood flow to the legs and may rebuild nerve functions that have been damaged.
Regulates blood pressure
Cortisol is a hormone that is known to cause high blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure the heart generates against your artery walls each time the heart beats. Proper foot massage may regulate this by helping your body rest and relax.
Encourages good sleep
Neurotransmitters are important, as they encourage the body to relax and sleep at night. Massage can affect how the nervous system works, so it may help to control insomnia by reinstating a regular circadian rhythm.
When foot massage is carried out just twice weekly, it can help improve depressive symptoms, like stress, anxiety, and insomnia. This may improve your mood and can help you wind down.
This may be the most important benefit for people living with diabetes that experience foot pain. Foot massage strengthens blood circulation within the feet. Greater blood flow to the painful area can relax the muscles to reduce pain and stiffness, along with the added pressure from the massage tools.
What to consider when choosing a foot massager
Now we’ve covered why foot massage is important for those with diabetic neuropathy, here are some things to look out for when selecting one.
The seating position is an important factor. It affects whether you can sit back and relax while using the device. It’s always better to look for a foot massager that delivers a comfortable seating position.
Look out for foot massagers with an adjustable angle as these let you change the position to the one you want. Fixed foot massagers may only let you sit with your feet and legs at a 90° angle, which can be uncomfortable when sitting for long periods.
Adjustable foot massagers will let you sit back in a natural seating position, letting you lean back in the chair instead of only sitting upright.
Manual or electric?
Another factor you’ll have to consider is whether you want a manual or electric foot massager.
Manual foot massagers may look like a tube or a ball. All you have to do is put the device on the floor and roll your foot over it. You can also find these massagers available in different shapes.
There are also manual foot massagers that have several rollers on them. This allows the device to massage the whole foot at the same time. Manual foot massagers tend to be lighter so you can carry them around with you.
If you’d rather purchase a massager that tends to your feet for you, an electric foot massager may be a better choice. These modern devices tend to have two motions. Look out for massagers that move in an oscillating move in one way, and a back and forth with the other.
Most electric massagers are made to fit both feet in them, so you can massage both feet at the same time.
Different massage techniques
Other than choosing a certain type of foot massager, you should consider the types of massaging techniques that you prefer. Practically all foot massagers have moving heads that knead the feet, but you may find others that massage by compression instead.
Compression massages will apply direct pressure to your muscles. This will relax the muscles and nerves within your leg, helping to soothe pain and improve blood circulation.
Some other foot massagers have heat features that help to ease painful feet. Heat works well along with massage as it can improve blood flow. You may be able to find models which vibrate too, enhancing the massage effect.
Electric foot massagers may have a shiatsu feature. Shiatsu is a popular Japanese massage technique that focuses on pressure points. These foot massagers use vibrating moving heads to mimic this procedure.
All foot massagers with shiatsu techniques may help to relieve pain and loss of sensation. However, keep in mind that people living with diabetes should use massagers with a lighter shiatsu setting.
Those with foot pain may find the strong force on pressure points too intense, so it may exacerbate any extreme foot pain.
Weight and size
You may not initially think about the size and weight when choosing a foot massager, but these factors affect how easy the device is to carry and store.
Higher-end models may have more features, but this can add to their weight and size. Extra massage heads can be cumbersome, so they can take up a lot of storage room.
Heavier massagers aren’t ideal to travel with either. It isn’t recommended for people with diabetic neuropathy to carry items that weigh a lot, as this can intensify foot pain. Electric massagers normally weigh more than manual ones.
Manual massagers are lighter and more compact, so you can travel with them on the go. Some may even be small enough to keep in your pocket, though this will depend on the brand.
Ease of use
Your foot massager may have a lot of settings, but they won’t be any good if you can’t use them! Always check how many settings are on your massager before purchasing it. You may want to check reviews that cover how easy the product was to use too.
Risks with using a foot massager for diabetic neuropathy
Foot massagers can be a great tool for those experiencing diabetic foot pain, but before you start, there are some things you should be aware of.
Mechanical devices that produce movement energy will expend a little energy as heat. Diabetic neuropathy will cause a lack of sensation and numbness in the legs and feet.
Any heat that the massager produces can have a risk of burning your skin, but you may not be able to feel it instantly.
Massage can be good for your feet, but intense massage may cause circulation problems, particularly if you live with any other circulatory conditions.
All those experiencing diabetes symptoms should be very careful when using a foot massager. Always consult a medical professional before purchasing one or going for a foot massage.
Foot massagers can cause complications, but these usually occur if the massage is too intense or applies too much pressure.
If you start using an electric foot massager, begin with the lowest setting. If you want to increase the intensity, do so gradually so the pressure isn’t too much on your feet.
If any pain occurs, no matter how small, stop using the device.
Managing diabetic foot pain
Those with diabetes will know that the condition can affect certain parts of your life. New diets, new medicines, and general lifestyle changes are all things you will get used to. While foot massagers are a great tool for those with diabetic foot pain, they shouldn’t be a replacement for diabetes prevention practices.
One of the main causes of diabetic foot pain is a lack of circulation. This is why a simple massage technique can help increase blood circulation and soothe muscle pain.
Massage applies pressure that can move the blood and increase muscle temperature. This keeps the muscle fibers elastic, aiding mobility in the process.
Weight management is important so the patient doesn’t place additional pressure on their feet. This is particularly important in obese individuals or those with particularly intense foot pain.
In some cases, prevention techniques, foot massage, and weight management may be more effective than prescribed pills for foot pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are foot massagers good for diabetic feet?
Massage can be great for those living with diabetic neuropathy. Massage has been used to relieve pain, improve blood circulation, and promote relaxation.
These can all improve diabetic foot pain as the massage soothes the muscles in the feet. Foot massagers can also improve mobility and flexibility within the feet, which can further improve pain relief.
Can diabetics use leg compression massagers?
Massaging devices that focus on the foot and lower leg can be very useful for those with diabetes. Diabetes patients may want to improve blood circulation to their feet and legs.
Leg compression massagers are a good way to do this, particularly if they can massage the feet at the same time.
What are the side effects of electric foot massagers?
Most people who have peripheral neuropathy can benefit from foot massage, but they should still be aware of the potential side effects.
Electric foot massagers may have settings that apply too much pressure. This may be too strong for those with chronic foot pain.
It’s always best to start with the lowest setting on the massager, then work your way up. Stop using the device immediately if you feel any pain.
Other products for Diabetic Neuropathy
You can also consider using compression socks to treat diabetic neuropathy or help reduce pain and swelling.
We have a comprehensive guide to the best socks for diabetic neuropathy that includes reviews of the top choices.
Topical neuropathy creams can be applied to the feet to deliver quick and effective pain relief. These creams are generally affordable, readily available, and painless to apply.
We have a review of the best diabetic neuropathy creams that explain what to look for.