Medical Massage is a term that is very confusing in the massage profession since there has been no professional definition of what exactly medical massage is.
More people are turning to massage to help them heal from various conditions such as strains/sprains, repetitive strain syndromes like carpal tunnel, headaches, fibromyalgia and many other conditions. The term medical massage is being used to describe massage therapists who work in more of a ‘medical’ capacity and work with physicians and even bill insurance companies for the massage services.
Some schools and organizations are creating a medical massage therapist specialty where students get more training in working with various conditions and get training in how to bill insurance companies and work with physicians. There are some specialized techniques that some are referring to as medical massage but the fact is that it is not one or any specific technique or massage method. The thing is that anyone can become a medical massage therapist if you can show that there is improvement in a persons condition from your massage – whatever type of massage one does including relaxation massage.
While more training in specific diseases and conditions may be helpful in your understanding of working with clients with these conditions – it is not really necessary because of the extremely low incidence of massage doing any harm to people.
Since stress is one of the biggest causes of disease and health problems, ruling out relaxation massage from the medical massage category is damaging to the massage profession.
At this time (Oct. 2010) there are only 2 states that allow massage therapists to bill insurance companies for massage – FL and WA. Other insurance companies in other states may pay for massage, but they don’t have any laws that support insurance reimbursement for massage therapists.
See these other articles on Medical Massage:
Medical Massage A Marriage or a Monster By Deane Juhan. Massage and Bodywork Magazine
Defining Medical Massage By James Waslaski Massage Today
Defining Medical Massage is an important step in the future of the massage profession. We need more research and standards set for this sector of the massage profession and create a definition for ourselves before other professions define it for us (which they are already starting to do here in WA by creating a special credentialing process for medical massage )
To become a medical massage therapist you will first have to go to regular massage school and choose classes that will teach you how to work with injuries and stress. To learn more about becoming a medical massage therapist, you will find more info in my Ebook -The Massage Career Guide – The truth about becoming a massage therapist.
You will also need to learn how to bill insurance companies. Some of the places that you might be able to get a job are working for a chiropractor or medical clinic. In general, you will also be able to create your own jobs in medical massage by approaching medial professionals, hospitals, chiropractors and orthopedic doctors with more evidence and research on how and why massage works. There is just beginning to be a group of massage therapists who are working to promote research and teach students about it in massage school. If your training does not include medical massage you will be able to learn more after school and in fact you will be continuing to learn throughout your career. You will be able to work with injuries such as whiplash, carpal tunnel, sprained muscles, fibromyalgia, headaches and other such conditions involving the musculo-skeletal system