The Benefits of Massage for Diabetes Patients

A relaxing massage soothes away the frustration of a long day and leaves even the grumpiest person feeling better. Its mental and emotional benefits are well-known. But, did you also know that massage can also relieve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?

Bet you didn’t!

While there aren’t any large-scale studies of the benefits of this complimentary medicine, a few smaller studies have shown some promise in treating nerve pain and other complications of diabetes.

Benefits Of Massage Therapy

Only in the past one hundred years or so has massage been explored or used in any kind of scientific way as a potential treatment option. Yet, in that time, many things have been learned about it. Massage can improve the blood flow, relax muscle tissues, and even be used to help drain lymphatic fluid. However, there are additional benefits for people with diabetes.

Improved Circulation

One of the biggest benefits of massage is an improved blood circulation. Manual stroking of the body can move blood and stimulate the vessels so that they work better. Many also experience a deeper state of relaxation, which may dilate the vessels, allowing more blood to flow through them.

Optimal Blood Sugar Levels

Massage can lower blood glucose levels. This is even something that doctors warn patients about, as glucose levels can drop as much as 20 to 40 mg/dl. The ways this works is possibly two-fold. Massage can help relieve stress or anxiety, which are both conditions that lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. It also improves insulin absorption, thereby allowing more insulin to get to the body’s tissues.

Fewer Neuropathy Symptoms

Diabetic neuropathy symptoms are sometimes caused by a lack of oxygenated blood reaching the tissues in the extremities, which massage can counter. One study used syncardial massage with a pressure cuff that contracts and relaxes in conjunction with the normal rhythm of a patient’s heartbeat. It’s thought that the pressure cuff makes the arteries contract more effectively, improving blood flow to the legs.

During the study, 25 patients with symmetrical diabetic neuropathy of the lower extremities received 20 to 30 treatments, averaging about one session every two days. At the end of the study, 56% of the patients reported that their symptoms were gone or so slight that they felt they didn’t need further treatments. On top of that, 32% of patients reported some improvement in their neuropathy.

As always, speak with your doctor before starting a regular massage therapy treatment. There may be potential drawbacks for those with severe neuropathy or very poor blood circulation.

[expand title=”References“]

Massage and Diabetes. URL Link. Accessed May 29, 2017.

Is Massage Useful in the Management of Diabetes? A Systematic Review. URL Link. Accessed May 29, 2017.

Massage and Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. URL Link. Accessed May 29, 2017.


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