Category Archives: Elderly

September is Healthy Aging Month!

September is Healthy Aging Month!

“The use of touch may be the most important way to communicate to aged persons that they are still important as human beings.” Ashley Montague. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin.

SImage result for september is healthy aging montheptember is Healthy Aging Month®, an annual observance that focuses attention on the issues of aging. Simple, gentle touch can stimulate aging minds and bodies, and it can help minimize discomfort in the elderly years.

Touch therapies are ancient healing modalities which became lost in the maze of modern medical technology. Recently there is a revival of massage as a complementary therapy in caregiving for the elderly. Age-appropriate, gentle massage is effective in providing comfort care and in enhancing quality of life.

Massage therapy is well-known for its ability to reduce muscle tension, relieve pain, increase circulation and induce the relaxation response. Research has shown that massage stimulates Image result for massage for elderlyendorphin production (the “natural high” hormone), boosts the immune system and enhances healing after injury or surgery.

 A skilled massage therapist who is trained in working with the elderly can notice and report subtle changes in the physical body, which can be crucial in preventing potential life-threatening conditions.

Massage decreases pain, even if pain is the symptom of a broader problem. So while massage doesn’t cure osteoarthritis, for example, it can decrease the symptoms and significantly reduce pain by keeping joints more mobile, stimulating synovial fluid and stimulating blood and lymph circulation to affected areas.

Massage also benefits skin health by stimulating cellular function in the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis to prevent decubitus ulcers, along with enhanced tissue elasticity.

Caring touch is a powerful acknowledgment to the individual that, regardless of the condition of the physical body, he or she is still a part of the human race, and still has value as a whole human being. This is healing in its true and deepest sense.

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month

Image result for massage for elderlyWould you like to age more gracefully, actively and positively?  According to Carolyn Worthington, executive director of Healthy Aging®, it’s all about combining physical, social, mental and financial fitness.  September is Healthy Aging® Month, an annual health observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older.  It provides inspiration and practical ideas for older adults to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well being. It also helps younger adults prepare for healthy aging.

Here are some ideas to get the celebration started:

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month:

1. EAT FRESH.  Make a commitment to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.  September is still harvest time in many areas so seek out local farmers markets and buy local produce.  Make it a point to try to eliminate processed foods and make your meals from scratch as much as possible.

2. EXPLORE.  Your mind is like a muscle – use it or lose it! Start or resume an activity that will sharpen your mental skills, such as piano lessons or a craft. It’s never too late to learn something new! Check out continuing education at local schools, community programs, senior centers, YMCAs. There are many one day, or one evening courses to spark you imagination.

3. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Research shows that people’s attitudes, ambitions and preparation for retirement have changed dramatically as a result of the recent economic recession. It has also been found that more and more people want to stay in their own homes and live independently. Use your home as a place for nurturing yourself and exploring your creativity!

4. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. By giving back to your community, you help others as well as making yourself feel good.  A win-win for all! Most communities have opportunities to volunteer.

5. GO! Get out and enjoy the landscape!  Fall is the perfect time to travel, and some companies are even encouraging you to go. Certain hotel chains and car rental companies offer discount deals to seniors during the month of September.

6. GO FOR LESS. Sign up for a discount pass on a toll road. Some regions offer discounts such as 10 percent off-peak rate for drivers 65 and older on turnpikes and parkways.

7. EXERCISE.  Take 10,000 steps per day! Exercise 30- 60 minutes a day or walk 10,000 steps.  Find a friend, don’t delay and make a “date” to meet every day or every other day to walk. Choose fun places to walk, like the local park, shopping mall, or even do laps around the local school track. You will have fun and feel better about yourself immediately. Plus, there’s the extra bonus of connecting with a friend or friends on a regular basis.

8. GET SOCIAL. Sign up with Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. According to Forrester Research, an independent research firm, more than 60% of baby boomers consume socially-created content. Keep up with technology, friends, family and job connections through online social media.

9. MONEY SENSE.  Start thinking about Medicare well before your 65th birthday. A good starting point is Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ website at www.medicare.gov for the “Medicare and You” brochure.

10. RE-INVENT YOURSELF WITH A NEW CAREER.  With the uncertainty of Social Security and Congressional discussions about raising the retirement age to 70, if you are age 50+, you may be thinking “one more career”.  Several websites are catering to the demand for jobs:  www.seniors4hire.org, www.retireeworkforce.com, and www.workforce50.com

Do you have tips for positive aging?  Share your ideas of how to take positive steps for your care and well-being as you enter your elder years.

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Image result for arthritisIn recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, we explore how this painful condition can be helped with massage therapy. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, known as rheumatic diseases.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage can help with arthritis in two ways. First, it reduces muscle pain caused by spasms. Second, it increases production of endorphins which reduces pain.

For greatest benefit, massage therapy is most effective on a regular basis with a therapist trained and experienced in working with arthritis. The optimum treatment schedule is once a week for one month, then 1-2 times per month thereafter.

Two studies involving arthritis of the hands and knees each concluded that massage therapy is beneficial:

  1. A 2006 study at the Touch Research Institute in Miami demonstrates effects of hand massage in arthritis patients. Dr. Field shows by grip strength pre and post treatment that the treatment group had significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the non-massage control group. Also, to increase synovial fluid production in affected joints, treating the surrounding joint tissues and establishing a methodical treatment interval is suggested (Wine, 1995). As a systemic disease, RA can create blockage in lymph nodes proximal to affected joints, contributing to pain. Gentle friction techniques increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and assist in the removal of waste products surrounding the affected joints. Massage is contraindicated during an acute inflammatory stage, but when in remission, massage can effectively manage symptoms, prevent inflammation, and reduce joint damage.

Massage therapy is safe and effective to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study identifying the benefits of massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited RoM was published in the December 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis, affecting 21 million Americans, causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the CDC.

The 68 study participants were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an 8-week delay. Both groups continued previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the intervention group received a standard 1-hour massage twice a week for 4 weeks, followed by massage once a week for the next 4 weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at Saint Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ. After the first 8 weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

The primary study outcomes were changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and functional scores, as well as changes in the Visual Analog Scale assessment of pain. Measures of pain, stiffness and functional ability were all significantly improved by the intervention as compared to the control group.

Those who continued with only their usual care without massage showed no changes in symptoms. During weeks 9 through 16, they received the massage intervention and experienced benefits similar to those in the original control group. When reassessed 8 weeks after completion of the massage intervention, the benefits of massage persisted at significant levels, with slight reduction in magnitude.

“Massage is free of any known side effects and according to our results, clearly shows therapeutic promise,” said senior investigator of the study David L. Katz, MD, associate adjunct professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale Prevention Research Center. “Massage is important when conventional treatments are far from ideal. NSAIDs are often not well-tolerated. Cox-II inhibitors like Vioxx were developed as substitutes for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs, but pose toxicity problems.”

Katz conducted the study with Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Health-Related Professions. Perlman said “Our results suggest that massage therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for osteoarthritis,” said Perlman. “Ultimately, massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decrease health care costs.”

Perlman and Katz say that further study of the cost-effectiveness and the lasting impact of the intervention is warranted. They have begun collaborating on a follow-up study.”

Our hope is to show that this treatment is not only safe and effective, but cost-effective,” said Perlman. “That could serve to change practice standards so that massage is a more common option for the many patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.”

More info: http://www.arthritis.org

Massage Therapy for a Healthy Heart!

Massage Therapy for a Healthy Heart!

Image result for february heart monthIn recognition of February as American Heart Month, created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease, we feature massage for cardiovascular health.

According to Heart Foundation.org, about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain.

A good massage can both calm and stimulate the nerve endings in the skin; release endorphins (happy hormones); and reduce production of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). Massage helps blood circulate more efficiently, lowers blood pressure, and causes heart rate to slow down.

Stress is a proven major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Research studies suggest that massage therapy can shift a patient’s nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic function. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes the body for action with the fight-flight-or-freeze response, when faced with a stressful situation. Staying in this state for a prolonged amount of time is a common problem in our stressful modern society, and increases the likelihood of developing or worsening heart disease. Stress speeds up the heartbeat, increases breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow in diameter. The parasympathetic response, on the other hand, creates a relaxation response, characterized by reduced heart and breathing rates and dilated blood vessels.

A regular and consistent massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress, including cardiac arrhythmia. This is a medical condition in which the heart pumps less effectively than normal, causing less blood to reach the brain and other vital organs. Studies have shown that consistent massage therapy can contribute to reducing the risk of heart attack. Massage therapy relaxes contracted muscles and assists the veins in moving blood through the circulatory system, thus reducing strain on the heart.

Research also reveals that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increase blood circulation. A pilot study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that inpatient massage treatments performed after heart bypass surgery reduced pain levels, decreased the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improved sleep.

Image result for massage for heart healthMassage therapy is usually administered by a trained and licensed therapist who uses hands and fingers to manipulate the tissues of the body –muscles, tendons and skin. When performed by a trained professional, massage is generally safe, with no adverse side effects. Since massage improves the circulation, it facilitates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, tissues and organs. The gliding action of the massage therapist’s hands over the skin can have a calming effect on the nerves, which medical studies show can help reduce the adverse effects of stress on the heart.

For people who do not get enough physical exercise, a massage at least once a month is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative. The more often and more consistently massage is received, the more it will help improve health over time.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or is a member of a massage therapy professional association, such as AMTA or ABMP.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping the cardiovascular system feel better and function better!

CALL TODAY – MASSAGE FOR A HEALTHY HEART! 808.885.4459

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

In recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, we explore how this painful condition can be helped with massage therapy. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, known as rheumatic diseases.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage can help with arthritis in two ways. First, it reduces muscle pain caused by spasms. Second, it increases production of endorphins which reduces pain.

For greatest benefit, massage therapy is most effective on a regular basis with a therapist trained and experienced in working with arthritis. The optimum treatment schedule is once a week for one month, then 1-2 times per month thereafter.

Two studies involving arthritis of the hands and knees each concluded that massage therapy is beneficial:

1. A 2006 study at the Touch Research Institute in Miami demonstrates effects of hand massage in arthritis patients. Dr. Field shows by grip strength pre and post treatment that the treatment group had significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the non-massage control group. Also, to increase synovial fluid production in affected joints, treating the surrounding joint tissues and establishing a methodical treatment interval is suggested (Wine, 1995). As a systemic disease, RA can create blockage in lymph nodes proximal to affected joints, contributing to pain. Gentle friction techniques increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and assist in the removal of waste products surrounding the affected joints. Massage is contraindicated during an acute inflammatory stage, but when in remission, massage can effectively manage symptoms, prevent inflammation, and reduce joint damage.

2. Massage therapy is safe and effective to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study identifying the benefits of massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited RoM was published in the December 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis, affecting 21 million Americans, causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the CDC.

The 68 study participants were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an 8-week delay. Both groups continued previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the intervention group received a standard 1-hour massage twice a week for 4 weeks, followed by massage once a week for the next 4 weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at St. Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ. After the first 8 weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

The primary study outcomes were changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and functional scores, as well as changes in the Visual Analog Scale assessment of pain. Measures of pain, stiffness and functional ability were all significantly improved by the intervention as compared to the control group.

Those who continued with only their usual care without massage showed no changes in symptoms. During weeks 9 through 16, they received the massage intervention and experienced benefits similar to those in the original control group. When reassessed 8 weeks after completion of the massage intervention, the benefits of massage persisted at significant levels, with slight reduction in magnitude.

“Massage is free of any known side effects and according to our results, clearly shows therapeutic promise,” said senior investigator of the study David L. Katz, MD, associate adjunct professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale Prevention Research Center. “Massage is important when conventional treatments are far from ideal. NSAIDs are often not well-tolerated. Cox-II inhibitors like Vioxx were developed as substitutes for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs, but pose toxicity problems.”

Katz conducted the study with Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Health-Related Professions.. Perlman said “Our results suggest that massage therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for osteoarthritis,” said Perlman. “Ultimately, massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decrease health care costs.”

Perlman and Katz say that further study of the cost-effectiveness and the lasting impact of the intervention is warranted. They have begun collaborating on a follow-up study.”

Our hope is to show that this treatment is not only safe and effective, but cost-effective,” said Perlman. “That could serve to change practice standards so that massage is a more common option for the many patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.”

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

In recognition of May as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the value of massage therapy to help treat and overcome chronic insomnia.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep…” – William Shakespeare (The Tempest)

Shakespeare was probably not thinking of insomnia when he wrote that line. But to millions of insomniacs, sleep is as illusive as a dream.

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Sleep does not come easily to alarmingly large numbers of people. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) “Sleep in America” Poll, 74% of adult respondents claim they experience at least one of these four symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week:

– Difficulty falling asleep

– Waking frequently during the night

– Waking and unable to return to sleep

– Waking up tired and unrefreshed

35% of respondents reported at least one of these four symptoms every night during the past year. 37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with their daytime activities and alertness.

Chronic insomnia is poor sleep every night or most nights for more than six months. This endless cycle can cause extreme fatigue, problems with concentration and can adversely affect a person’s mood and well-being. Recurring insomnia should be evaluated by a healthcare professional or a sleep disorder specialist.

There seems to be a significant relationship between the serotonin component of sleep and its relationship to massage therapy. The crucial neurotransmitter serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin resets the part of the brain that directs circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain conducted by the Touch Research Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage relaxes the muscles, improves circulation, soothes the nervous system and increases production of pain-killing endorphins. It can also reduce the tension from daily stresses that lead to a night of tossing and turning, as well as daytime anxiety, drowsiness and poor performance. Therapeutic massage can help with sleep disorders that have a neuromuscular origin such as pain, tension, muscle spasms and Restless Legs Syndrome.

Insomnia is common problem for hospitalized patients. Massage has been useful as an adjunct or alternative option to prescription sleep medications. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas with hospitalized critically ill elderly men concluded that back massage is useful for promoting sleep in this population.

Restless babies and children may also benefit from a massage by sleeping more peacefully. In one study of children and adolescents, those who participated in a 30-minute massage daily for five days slept longer and more soundly.

In addition to helping an infant sleep, the “calming touch” of a parent establishes a valuable opportunity to soothe and nurture the baby. As little as 15 minutes of massage a day significantly affects infant sleep patterns with deeper sleep of longer duration.

Massage therapy is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia.

 

Massage Therapy for Heart Health

Massage Therapy for Heart Health

In recognition of February as American Heart Month, created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease, we feature massage for cardiovascular health.

According to Heart Foundation.org, about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain.

 A good massage can both calm and stimulate the nerve endings in the skin; release endorphins (the feel-good hormones); and reduce production of cortisol and adrenaline (the stress hormones). Massage helps blood Circulate more efficiently, causes blood pressure to drop, and heart and breathing rates to slow down.

Stress is a proven major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Research studies suggest that massage therapy can shift a patient’s nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic function. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes the body for action with the fight-flight-or freeze response, when faced with a stressful situation. Staying in this state for a prolonged amount of time is a common problem in our stressful modern society, and increases the likelihood of developing or worsening of heart disease. Stress speeds up the heartbeat, increases breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow in diameter. The parasympathetic response, on the other hand, creates a relaxation response, characterized by reduced heart and breathing rates and dilated blood vessels.

A regular and consistent massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress, including cardiac arrhythmia. This is a medical condition in which the heart pumps less effectively than normal, causing less blood to reach the brain and other vital organs. Studies have shown that consistent massage therapy can contribute to reducing the risk of heart attack. Massage therapy relaxes contracted muscles and assists the veins in moving blood through the circulatory system, thus reducing strain on the heart.

Research also reveals that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increase blood circulation. A pilot study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that inpatient massage treatments performed after heart bypass surgery reduced pain levels, decreased the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improved sleep.

Massage therapy is usually administered by a trained and licensed therapist who uses hands and fingers to manipulate the tissues of the body –muscles, tendons and skin. When performed by a trained professional, massage is generally safe, with no adverse side effects. Since massage improves the circulation, it facilitates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, tissues and organs. The gliding action of the massage therapist’s hands over the skin can have a calming effect on the nerves, which medical studies show can help reduce the adverse effects of stress on the heart.

For people who do not get enough physical exercise, a massage at least once a month is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative. The more often and more consistently massage is received, the more it will help improve health over time.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org).

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping the cardiovascular system feel better and function better!

Is Massage Useful in the Management of Diabetes?

Is Massage Useful in the Management of Diabetes?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The health benefits of massage are varied, but can it help in the management of diabetes? Find out what’s proven to work best, and what should you know about massage therapy for diabetes.

As more Americans incorporate CAM modalities into their health care, people with diabetes are also looking to complement their lifestyle with integrated medical care. Massage Therapy is a commonly-used modality for patients with diabetes. Learn how it can help you or a loved one with diabetes.

Abstract in Brief

Massage is among the fastest growing CAM therapies used in the United States. Here we present a brief review of the available evidence on potential benefits and adverse effects of massage for people with diabetes: Massage at injection sites may increase insulin absorption; uncontrolled studies suggest that massage may have a positive effect on blood glucose levels and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy; randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm any short- and long-term benefits of massage as a complementary treatment for diabetes and to further define an optimal massage treatment.

This article aims to clarify what is and is not known about the use of Massage Therapy for people with diabetes, with 4 frequently asked questions.

1. Can Massage Improve Insulin Absorption?

Our search found one study on insulin absorption in Type 1 diabetes. No studies were found on insulin absorption in Type 2 diabetes. Dillon observed that eight lean, well-controlled patients with Type 1 diabetes who massaged their insulin injection sites with an electric vibrator for 3 minutes at 15 minutes post-injection, experienced higher insulin levels and lower serum glucose levels by 15 minutes after the start of massage and 29 minutes post-injection, but these changes were not statistically significant. More significantly, serum glucose levels fell 8.3% lower (P < 0.05) 30 minutes after massage and 44 minutes post-injection compared to the control day when participants did not massage their injection sites. At 45 minutes post-massage, the difference in glucose levels was even more striking (76 mg/dl ± 6%) when compared to the control day (89 mg/dl ± 4%).

The same report revealed 2-year follow-up data on these eight patients, as well as on 18 others who had been massaging their injection sites for 3 minutes at each meal in order to achieve a  beneficial postprandial rise in insulin levels. After 3–6 months of massage, the mean HbA1 for the 26 patients fell from 10.56 ±1.73 to 8.55±1.69%. (Normal HbA1 was <8.2% according to the laboratory assay used.) After 12-18 months of injection-site massage, 8 patients had normal HbA1 levels, and the remaining 18 patients had mean HbA1 levels of 8.41 ±1.58%, a significant improvement from baseline (P < 0.001). Dillon proposed that injection-site massage can improve conventional insulin therapy by increasing the bioavailability of insulin in the postprandial state.

2. Can Massage Help Normalize Blood Glucose Levels?

Three published results of two trials and one unpublished preliminary study have examined the effects of massage on normalizing blood glucose.

Fields and colleagues, describing a single-group, pre/post-test design in two publications of the same study population, reported that after 1 month of parents administering nightly full-body massage to their  diabetic children (n = 14), the children’s glucose levels decreased from an average of 158 to 118 mg/dl. The authors also reported that both parents’ and children’s anxiety and depression levels decreased immediately after massage.

Vest trained clinical staff to administer 15-minute sessions of breathing instruction, light touch and acupressure to diabetic patients for 6 consecutive weeks using a one-group, pre/post-test design (n = 12). Patients had a reduction in blood glucose, anxiety, headaches, depression, work stress and anger. Self-reports also indicated the patients were sleeping better and had improved family relations. No P values were cited.

Preliminary data were available from one small trial comparing people with Type 2 diabetes receiving 45-minute full-body massage three times a week for 12 weeks (n = 6) to similar patients on a waiting list for massage (n = 2). Researchers found that of the 6 patients receiving massage, HbA1c decreased in 3 patients from a baseline of 7.9, 8.3, and 9.8% to 7.3, 8.1, and 8.6%, respectively. In the other three patients receiving massage, HbA1c increased from a baseline of 7.4, 8.2, and 8.0% to 7.9, 10.0, and 8.5%, respectively. These patients, whose glycemic control deteriorated while receiving massage, were obese, injecting insulin, or both. None of the group whose glycemic control improved with massage had either of these characteristics. In the waiting list control group, HbA1c level also declined from 7.3 and 8.6% to 6.9 and 8.4%, respectively.

3. Can Massage Provide Relief for Symptoms Associated With Diabetic Neuropathy?

Our search found one trial assessing the effects of massage on the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. This single-group, pre/post-test design assessed 25 patients with symmetrical diabetic neuropathy of the lower extremities and complaints of burning, tingling, pain, itching, restless legs, paresthesia and loss of reflexes. The duration of disease was 6–17 years, and the duration of neuropathic symptoms averaged 14 months. Massage was administered every 2 days, with the total number of treatments ranging from 20 to 30 in those who appeared to benefit. Therapy was discontinued after the tenth treatment for those who experienced no benefit.

Subjective outcomes were defined as no effect, improved or good. At the 1-month follow-up, results showed good response in 14 cases (56%), improvement in 8 cases (32%), and no effect in 3 cases (12%).

Question #4: What Contraindications or Precautions Are Related to Massage for People With Diabetes?

A potential adverse effect of massage for diabetes appears to be the risk of inducing hypoglycemia in insulin-using patients. This risk is extrapolated from massage studies using healthy volunteers. None of the studies of massage and diabetes reports adverse effects.

In the study of massage for diabetic neuropathy, Kurashova specifically cites contraindications and precautions for people with diabetes. In the beginning, it is recommended to use only continuous effleurage. Massage should begin with 5-7 minutes on the back, then proceed to the posterior thigh and calf. 20-30 minutes total on the posterior body; then 10–15 minutes on anterior extremities. For patients with peripheral nerve damage, gentle friction of the lower extremities can be added only after 7–10 treatments of effleurage have been completed.

Because vascular dysfunction may render the tissues fragile, friction should be light to avoid vascular damage or bruising. In swollen areas, friction should be avoided because the direct pressure into the tissues that is characteristic of friction may further close the dysfunctioning vessels. Pressure should be sufficiently light to cause no pain.

SUMMARY

Massage at an insulin injection site can significantly increase serum insulin action, thereby decreasing blood glucose levels in people with Type 1 diabetes. It is unknown whether massage can improve insulin sensitivity and therefore be a useful adjunct to management of Type 2 diabetes.

Uncontrolled studies suggest that massage may help normalize blood glucose and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to further clarify what an optimal massage treatment might be and to elucidate any short- and long-term benefits of massage as a complementary treatment for diabetes.

Got Arthritis? Get Massage Therapy!

Got Arthritis? Get Massage Therapy!

We acknowledge October as Joint Health Awareness Month with this article about massage therapy for arthritis. The health benefits of massage are varied, but can it ease the joint pain of arthritis? Find out what’s proven to work best, and what should you know about massage therapy for arthritis.

Like many people with arthritis, Connie DeIanni has days when her pain is hard to manage. One tactic she uses to fight her pain, as well as the stress that comes along with it, is a soothing massage.

“I’ve used massage as a therapy, but more for the sore muscles that are compromised due to flares,” says DeIanni, a Farmington, Utah, bank employee and college student who has rheumatoid arthritis. “There’s a calming effect on the tension and stress of the constant pain that is rewarding.”

Massage, whether conducted in a softly lit day spa or a treatment room at a physical therapy clinic, is something many people use to soothe sore joints and muscles, to ease anxiety or to help them sleep better. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, reports that massage is one of the most popular complementary therapies used by Americans, with close to nine percent of adults using it. Until recently, little was known about why massage seemed to work, but recent research suggests that massage can affect the body’s production of certain hormones linked to blood pressure, anxiety, heart rate and other key vital signs. But is massage safe and effective for people with arthritis?

Massage and Arthritis

Regular massage of muscles and joints, whether by a licensed therapist at a spa or by self-massage at home, can lead to a significant reduction in pain for people with arthritis, according to Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, who’s conducted a number of studies on the benefits of massage, including on people with arthritis. In Field’s research and other recent studies on the effects of massage for arthritis symptoms, regular use of the simple therapy led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints.

While most research on massage examines its effects on the general population, not specifically people with arthritis, recently more studies are underway to study the effectiveness of massage for people with arthritis. For example, one 2006 study conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 68 adults with knee osteoarthritis receiving two Swedish massages per week for eight weeks, compared to a group who received no massage. The massage group reported significant improvements in knee pain, stiffness, function, range of motion and walking, the researchers found.

Massage also benefits people with painful hand or wrist arthritis, Field concluded in another 2006 study that she conducted with colleagues in Miami. Twenty-two adults, mostly women, diagnosed with hand or wrist arthritis were given four weekly massages from a therapist and taught to massage their sore joints daily at home. Just a 15-minute, moderate pressure massage per day led to reduced pain and anxiety, and increased grip strength for the participants as measured on comparative pre- and post-therapy tests.

Most people who try complementary therapies, including massage, do so to address back and neck pain, according to a 2007 NCCAM report. A number of studies confirm the effectiveness of massage for back and neck pain, including one published in 2011 in the Annals of Internal Medicine that looked at the effectiveness of massage therapy on 401 people with chronic low back pain. The researchers found that massage did reduce their pain, and the benefits lasted at least six months. They also concluded that the type of massage wasn’t that important – different types worked about the same.

Article Credit: Susan Bernstein: arthritistoday.org

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month!

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month!

Wouldn’t you like to age more gracefully, actively and positively?  According to Carolyn Worthington, executive director of Healthy Aging®, it’s all about combining physical, social, mental and financial fitness.  September is Healthy Aging® Month, an annual health observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older.  It provides inspiration and practical ideas for adults, ages 50+, to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well being.

Here are some ideas to get the celebration started:

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month:

1. EAT FRESH.  Make a commitment to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.  September is still harvest time in many areas so seek out local farmers markets and buy local produce.  Make it a point to try to eliminate processed foods and make your meals from scratch as much as possible.

2. EXPLORE.  Your mind is like a muscle – use it or lose it! Start or resume an activity that will sharpen your mental skills, such as piano lessons or a craft. It’s never too late to learn something new! Check out continuing education at local schools, community programs, senior centers, YMCAs. There are many one day, or one evening courses to spark you imagination.

3. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Research shows that people’s attitudes, ambitions and preparation for retirement have changed dramatically as a result of the recent economic recession. It has also been found that more and more people want to stay in their own homes and live independently. Use your home as a place for nurturing yourself and exploring your creativity!

4. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. By giving back to your community, you help others as well as making yourself feel good.  A win-win for all! Most communities have opportunities to volunteer.

5. GO! Get out and enjoy the landscape!  Fall is the perfect time to travel, and some companies are even encouraging you to go. Certain hotel chains and car rental companies offer discount deals to seniors during the month of September.

6. GO FOR LESS. Sign up for a discount pass on a toll road. Some regions offer discounts such as 10 percent off-peak rate for drivers 65 and older on turnpikes and parkways.

7. EXERCISE.  Take 10,000 steps per day! Exercise 30- 60 minutes a day or walk 10,000 steps.  Find a friend, don’t delay and make a “date” to meet every day or every other day to walk. Choose fun places to walk, like the local park, shopping mall, or even do laps around the local school track. You will have fun and feel better about yourself immediately. Plus, there’s the extra bonus of connecting with a friend or friends on a regular basis.

8. GET SOCIAL. Sign up with Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. According to Forrester Research, an independent research firm, more than 60% of baby boomers consume socially-created content. Keep up with technology, friends, family and job connections through online social media.

9. MONEY SENSE.  Start thinking about Medicare well before your 65th birthday. A good starting point is Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ website at www.medicare.gov for the “Medicare and You” brochure.

10. RE-INVENT YOURSELF WITH A NEW CAREER.  With the uncertainty of Social Security and Congressional discussions about raising the retirement age to 70, if you are age 50+, you may be thinking “one more career”.  Several websites are catering to the demand for jobs:  www.seniors4hire.org, www.retireeworkforce.com, and www.workforce50.com

Do you have tips for positive aging?  Share your ideas of how to take positive steps for your care and well-being as you enter your elder years.