Massage and DiabetesMonday, November 03, 2014
Comfort, relaxation, may make you think of-massage. Is it advisable for people with diabetes to partake in this activity or is it contraindicated? This blog will explore this issue. The first step is to ask your physician to counsel you on the safety of this activity for you and your health. By reading this blog you may have some discussion points for your conversation. With physician’s approval and a prescription, some insurance companies will cover the cost of a massage. Other insurance plans may have a list of preferred providers for therapy and if you go to one, you can get a significant discount and others will not cover the cost at all. Massage may be expensive out of pocket so ask what the cost will be.
Possible advantages of massage
Do you think of massage as a relaxing “just me” time where you troubles just seem to melt away? For many people with diabetes this is true. There also may be special benefits for a person with diabetes to consider.
- Helps to lower blood glucose…Some people with diabetes report a drop in blood glucose of 20-40 mg/dl. The pleasures of massage may cause a decrease in hormones that are related to stress and anxiety which may cause this significant drop in blood glucose levels. (1,2,3)
- Therapeutic massage will increase circulation. For people with type 2 diabetes, this may help with increasing the efficiency of insulin which will help decrease blood glucose levels. (4) With your physician’s approval, therapeutic massage may be beneficial for people with diabetic neuropathy. (5)
- For people with diabetes, massage may ease problems with range of motion and increase flexibility. (2) It may help to decrease muscle tension and blood pressure. (3)
Points to consider for a healthy massage
- Definitely consult with your physician to see if this is for you. Ask what types of massage would be beneficial if approved. There are approximately 100 types of massage available.
- Deep tissue massage (not all massage) may be contraindicated for people with neuropathy. If you are not able to feel pressures, you cannot give feedback to the therapist (you may not be aware if pressures are excessive). (1) Other types of massage such as stone massage may be harmful for a person with diabetes due to the friction and heat applied to the skin. (6) Ask your medical professionals for guidance on what would be acceptable for you.
- It is advised to only go to a licensed or certified massage therapist. In the United States, the requirements for licensure vary. Usually included are requirements that the therapist pass a course of study in massage therapy, complete a specific minimum of practice hours, a background check and have continuing education requirements, then pay a fee to the state in which they are to be licensed. Ask to see their certificate from the state to ensure they are licensed. For information on the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, click here. For information on State regulations, click here.
- Tell your massage therapist you have diabetes and the special concerns you have. Your therapist should be educated in skills of working with people who have diabetes.
- If you are on an injectable medication, tell your therapist not to massage the area if an injection was recently given. The medication may be absorbed faster if this happens. (1)
- Do you have healthy skin? Do you have any wounds or fragile skin? If your skin is delicate massage may not be a good idea for you.
- Test your blood glucose before you have a massage and make sure it can drop 20-40 mg/dl. Tell the therapist what you are doing and why. Tell him/her what happens to you when your blood glucose drops. Carry a can of regular juice or soda to drink during the session to sip on if you need it or make sure you have glucose tabs. Test your blood glucose after the massage to make sure it is not too low after the massage. (1)
For my readers that are interested in reviewing recent studies on diabetes and massage, here is a list to get you started:
- Effects of Tactile Massage on Metabolic Biomarkers in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
- How effective is Swedish Massage on Blood Glucose level in children with Diabetes Mellitus
- Evidence-based guideline: Treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy: report of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- Connective tissue reflex massage for type 2 diabetic patients with peripheral arterial disease: randomized controlled trial
More research needs to be done to help patients and their health care team decide on the type of massage therapy that would be the most beneficial for the individual. For those who have the approval and recommendation for massage from their doctor, it can be healthful and invigorating. Enjoy every minute!