Tactile Massage or Relaxation Exercises Do Not Improve the Metabolic Control of Type 2 Diabetics

P. E. Wandell*, A. C. Carlsson, K. Andersson, C. Gafvels, L. Tornkvist
Center for Family and Community Medicine, Alfred Nobels alle 12, S-141 83 Huddinge, Sweden.

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© Wandell et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Center for Family and Community Medicine, Alfred Nobels alle 12, S-141 83 Huddinge, Sweden.


A 0.8% reduction in glycosylated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1c) by tactile massage (TM) in patients with diabetes has been shown in a pilot study. The present study was carried out in patients with type 2 diabetes at primary healthcare centers as a parallel-arm clinical study with intention-to-treat analysis, of 10 weeks of TM once/week (n=26) or relaxation using a compact disc once/week (n=27). Anthropometrics were measured, i.e. weight, height, waist and calculation of BMI, blood samples were drawn, i.e. fP-glucose, B-HbA1c, fS-insulin, high-sensitive P-CRP, S-TNF-alpha, S-Interleukin-6, S-Adiponectin, S-Leptin and fP-Ghrelin, urine was collected for 24 hours for catecholamines and cortisol, and questionnaires including lifestyle variables were completed at baseline, after the 10-week intervention and at a followup 3 months after the intervention. There was no significant change in HbA1c in either the TM or the relaxation group. Waist circumference was reduced in both groups (p=0.01) but mostly in the TM group, with an adjusted difference between the groups of 4.0 cm (95% confidence interval 1.6-6.4 cm). The S-Adiponectin level increased significantly in the TM group (p=0.0095). TM therapy could not be recommended as a general treatment in subjects with type 2 diabetes. However, further studies in patients with high perceived level of stress and in other patient groups could be of value. The significance of the reduced waist is unclear, but could be of some importance in the long run.