Medical Massage is a growing part of the massage industry. While many people have used massage in the past for aches and pains, the greater medical community is still unsure of how to integrate massage into traditional care; and with the insurance world being unwilling or unable to cover it, massage often is overlooked as a method of care.
Increasingly, however, massage is receiving more and more recognition as a valid method of pain management, especially for soft tissue injuries, which are very common in minor accidents.
There are a few large differences between massage as used for occasional aches and medical massage used as treatment. A medical massage is assigned by your Health Care Provider- you get a prescription for it. Because of how the treatment codes are assigned, the therapist must do a lot of work in a limited amount of time- hence they use different techniques to create a large change in a short session. And finally, massage prescribed in response to an auto accident or work accident is billed through your auto insurance, or your worker’s comp, not through your health insurance.
Medical massage is not quite like a spa or even clinic massage. A prescription from your Health Care Provider will tell your Therapist what needs to be done: a diagnoses of condition, a treatment plan, and frequency of work. Instead of discussing and deciding these things with your Massage Therapist based on their assessment, you follow the treatment plan of the Health Care Provider, similar to how you would with any prescription.
Most insurance only covers a limited amount of time for ‘Manual Therapy’ or ‘Massage Therapy,’ the two most common codes associated with massage prescriptions. Because of this, your Massage Therapist should be trained in Medical Massage techniques. These are designed to effect the greatest change in the shortest amount of time.
Most soft tissue problems requiring prescription massage are due to one of two things: spasms, or trigger points. Medical massage techniques release the muscles by tricking the body into relaxing: by attempting to activate nerves called the GTO, which are your body’s “emergency override.” This can temporarily release your muscles, which allows the body to begin to heal by allowing better circulation, which in turn provides needed nutrients, oxygen, and enzymes, while helping flush old inflammation. Subsequent sessions retrain the body to remain relaxed so that healing is continuous.
Traditional health plans in this country are still reluctant to cover massage therapy. However, with auto or work accidents, massage can be billed through auto or work insurance- they must cover all reasonable expenses. With this type of massage, the client is not responsible for filing claims; the Therapist does this, which avoids a lot of headache for clients. However, the rates are much higher to account for the extra paperwork and time involved in this. You can often selfpay and then get an invoice for reimbursement. A small portion of health plans- generally Flex Spend or Health Savings Account (HSA) plans- may cover massage, but the client is responsible payment and for filing for reimbursement.
Our Therapists at Essential Therapy, LLC are Certified Medical Massage Therapists with additional years of experience in treating chronic pain and post injury recovery. If you have any questions about whether Medical Massage is a good option for your treatment, please call us at 704-806-8380 to speak with a Therapist about your situation.
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