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Can Massage Therapy Help with Diabetes?

Updated: Mar 4

A man with diabetes

Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with your doctor if you have any health concerns.

Diabetes is a common and potentially serious condition. According to the World Health Organization, it affected 422 million people in 2014 - more than the whole population of the United States. People with diabetes can't make enough of a hormone called insulin, or the insulin their body does make doesn't work well. This hormone regulates blood sugar, so this condition can lead to hyperglycemia, or dangerously high blood sugar levels that can damage your nerves or blood vessels. In some cases, this damage has (unfortunately) already happened.

As some of you might know, there are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas can't make any insulin due to attacks from your immune system, per the National Institute of Health. It usually begins to present itself in childhood or early adulthood. For this type, taking insulin directly is the best kind of treatment.

On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes is more common and is more likely to occur in people 45 or older. Several conditions can lead to Type 2 diabetes, including obesity or lack of physical exercise, although there's also a genetic component. For this type, treatment plans can also include taking insulin or other medications (such as semaglutide), as well as improving your diet, exercising more, quitting smoking, and making efforts to lower your blood pressure.

So, what does all this have to do with massage therapy? Well, a 2019 review of medical studies concluded that massage therapy is effective in lowering blood sugar, as well as improving some of the physical damage that untreated diabetes can cause, such as nerve damage and foot ulcers. The authors of this review searched three medical research databases for studies conducted between 2000 and 2018. They only included experiments with treatment and control groups (i.e. groups with massage therapy and no massage therapy were compared). Furthermore, they evaluated the quality of each study with the Oxford Quality Scoring System, and only experiments with a quality of 3 (classified as "good") or greater were included. From this analysis, they obtained the results - that massage can lower your blood sugar, treat diabetes-related nerve dysfunction, and improve your quality of life. This means that massage therapy as a possible treatment for diabetes and its impacts are scientifically proven!

Of course, everyone's case - and best course of treatment - is different. For this reason, you should consult with your doctor before considering massage therapy as a treatment for diabetes. A massage may be contraindicated (unsafe) if you have high blood pressure; recent injuries; heart, kidney, or spinal problems; or unexplained pain. In these cases, you should always check with your doctor to confirm if massage therapy is right for you.

With these safety considerations in mind, we tailor our massages to your conditions and comfort here at Jade Oasis Wellness. We will work together with your care team to contribute to your treatment plan and help you feel and live better. If you know someone with diabetes, please feel free to share this article on Facebook, and if you'd like to experience our massage therapy for yourself (after a green light from your doctor, if necessary), you can book online here or give us a call at (425) 679-6198.

Remember, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

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