Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017

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When I describe my job—being an educator about pathology for massage therapists—I often get quizzical looks, especially from health-care professionals. They seem surprised that people in the massage therapy profession would need to be well-educated about diseases. "Why on earth do massage therapists have to know about pathology?" asked my doctor, my dentist, and the ER nurse down the street. I have a one-word answer: diabetes. DIABETES: DEFINITION AND STATISTICS Diabetes mellitus comes from two Greek word roots meaning "flowing through" and "sweetness." This refers to the frequent urination we see in someone with untreated diabetes, and the fact that their urine is loaded with sugar. In short, the meaning of this name is "sweet pee." Diabetes occurs in several subtypes, but this column will focus on the most common version, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or DM2. DM2 has been diagnosed in 21 million Americans, and it probably affects 8 million more who don't know they have it yet. It costs $245 billion each year in direct and indirect expenses. It is utterly intertwined with three other common conditions: hypertension, atherosclerosis, and chronic renal failure. It can lead to peripheral neuropathy, skin ulcers, systemic edema, birth defects, peripheral artery disease, and kidney failure. It is the leading cause of new blindness among people 20–70 years old. It causes more amputations than any other disease, and largely because of diabetes, about 90,000 people in this country are currently on the waiting list for a new kidney. Diabetes is not an equal-opportunity disease. It is much more common among African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans than it is among whites. It is safe to say that every massage therapist will have clients with type 2 diabetes. It is vital that we be well-informed about this condition for two reasons: 40 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 7 education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES Hey, Sugar! A Diabetes Review By Ruth Werner

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