Alternative forms of medical treatment are becoming increasingly popular among individuals today. Many patients are no longer satisfied with going to the doctor and being told to simply take a pill or have a procedure done. Individuals want options. Patients want to treat the underlying cause of their problems, instead of just addressing the symptoms. And individuals want to know that everything possible is being done to address what they are experiencing. One way that treatment options are being expanded is through the implementation of medical massage therapy.
Differences Between Massage Approaches
While traditional therapeutic massage should not be underrated as a very effective method for improving overall health and well-being, it is important to make a wise choice between wellness-based or medical-based massage therapy when embarking on a journey toward improved health. Here are some basic differences between the two to help you make an informed decision.
Medical Massage works from a scientific paradigm and focuses on solving specific problems. Traditional wellness massage therapy is more focused on intuitive healing and providing nurturing.
Periods of care for both types of massage can be ongoing or based on desired results. When a medical massage patient has received the maximum expected improvement, treatment usually comes to an end. When to end wellness-based massage therapy is a bit more subjective.
Wellness massage focuses on a few primary treatment techniques, including craniosacral, circulatory, Swedish, and deep tissue massage. The techniques used by medical massage therapists include myofascial, cross-fiber friction, neuromuscular, and numerous other techniques.
Documentation of medical massage therapy is typically more extensive than with wellness therapy, providing a record of treatment and results that a patient can reference when visiting their doctor or other medical practitioners.
Benefits Of Treatment
In addition to stress relief and relaxation, medical massage focuses on a medical need. Injury and many chronic conditions can easily be improved or resolved when utilizing this unique skillset. It is often used to manage pain, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, relieve nerve compression, improve digestion, increase flexibility or treat other health care concerns.
Medical massage targets your needs through a variety of techniques focused on medical recovery. Spa massage and medical massage may feel similar, but their techniques differ. During a spa massage, the techniques likely focus on relaxation. A medical massage therapist will use a broader set of therapies for muscle health and recovery.
Your treatment will include a specific set of follow-up recommendations during and after your treatment process. Your medical massage therapist will provide a targeted plan for treatment, along with recommendations for a series of timed visits targeted to your recovery versus a periodic spa visit.
What Is Medical Massage?
Medical massage therapy is performed as part of a healthcare provider’s overall treatment plan, so the massage therapy is typically concentrated on a specific medical diagnosis. The exact techniques and procedures that are used during this type of massage will vary from each patient. However, the massage will typically be centralized on the parts of the body that have been identified as an area of concern. Instead of massaging the entire body, medical massage therapy tends to focus on a particular area.
If you’ve experienced an injury, have chronic pain, or are recovering from an illness for which your doctor prescribes massage therapy, don’t just go to any run-of-the-mill spa or massage therapist. You’ll want to look for some specific qualifications.
What techniques are typically used in medical massage therapy?
The massage techniques that are used will depend on a patient’s condition. Some of the common approaches include trigger point therapy, myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy and various styles of isolated stretching.
Is a prescription necessary for medical massage therapy?
Massage therapists do not have the legal ability to diagnose a patient with a condition. In order to claim that a medical treatment is being provided for a specific issue, a prescription must come from a healthcare provider. The prescription could come from a general practitioner, chiropractor, neurologist, orthopedist, oral surgeon, psychiatrist, or any medical professional.
What should I expect during a typical massage session?
When booking a session, it is important to provide as much information regarding your injury or illness as you can. Depending on the severity or pain level, a longer session may be appropriate. Typically, a first time visit will take 2 hours. The massage therapist will do an assessment before and after treatment. A treatment plan will be established and if you are working with any other medical professionals, the massage therapist can share treatment and progress with your provider.
Similar to chiropractic or sports massage, the area of focus the therapist is working on will be one or two regions of the body therefore it is likely the massage will require gym shorts, sports bra or comfortable clothing. Drinking water before and after your session will be highly beneficial and is encouraged.
After your first visit, your treatment plan will include work you can do in between sessions to improve the treating issue. You can find links under our resources page for more information on stretches, alternative treatments and more. It is not uncommon for a typical massage session to be 2 hours in duration each visit at the beginning for a couple of weeks if you are injured or experiencing pain. Understand that unlike traditional therapeutic massage, where goals are often simply to relax tense muscles or release tension, medical massage treatment often focuses on more specific results, such as rehabilitative stretching and neuromuscular therapy designed to heal and prevent future harm or injury. Your medical massage therapy plan may focus specifically on relieving ischemia or alleviating nerve compression. It may also help improve digestive motility, decrease inflammation, and deactivate trigger points, which may be responsible for chronic pain.
Will insurance pay for medical massage?
With many people turning to massage therapy as a medical treatment, it seems that health insurance should cover massages. However, not many policies include massage therapy in Idaho.
For example, Medicare does not cover massage therapy, so you will likely be responsible for 100% of the costs if you seek this treatment. Even if your health insurance provides coverage, there may still be limitations. There is no standard requirement for insurance companies to reimburse expenses for massage. The best way to find out whether massage therapy is covered is by asking your insurance company directly. It is best to do this prior to your massage appointment.
If you have a health savings account (HSA), you may be able to use it to cover massage costs if it qualifies as medically necessary. We accept payment using HSA.
Learn more about HSAs and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).