What is Medical Massage?
Medical Massage is result oriented and the treatment is specifically directed to resolve conditions that have been diagnosed and prescribed by a Physician. The therapist may use a variety of modalities or procedures during the treatment, but will focus the Medical Massage treatment only on the areas of the body related to the diagnosis and prescription. Medical Massage is generally billed in 15-minute segments using current procedural terminology and adhering to the usual and customary reimbursement fee schedule.
Why is a prescription necessary to perform Medical Massage?
In order for Massage Therapists to state that they are treating someone, they must first be able to legally determine what it is that they are actually treating.
Since it is beyond Massage Therapists' scope of practice to diagnose, they must work from a doctor�s prescription if they are claiming to treat a specific condition. Non-prescribed therapy may also be administered to address clients, where assessment shows soft-tissue imbalances.
Many in the field may think this is giving away their power to the physician, but nothing could be further from the truth. A physician can become our most powerful ally when we learn to work in a cooperative manner. I have worked well with Neurologists, Orthopedists, General Practitioners, Psychiatrists, Podiatrists, Oral Surgeons, Osteopaths, and Chiropractors.
An inclusive mentality will enable Massage Therapists to manifest their highest potential.
Do I need a Medical Massage Certification in order to perform Medical Massage or bill Insurance Companies in the United States?
This question which continues to be asked concerns the issue of Medical Massage Certification, and how it relates to insurance reimbursement.
I will try to answer this in both a short and long answer:
First the short answer, Massage therapy Certification in any sub specialty does not guarantee reimbursement from an insurance company.
Now for the long answer:
It has come to our attention that there are those who provide massage seminars who are advertising, and telling students, that it is necessary to attend their specific program and to achieve their certification in order to be able to bill and collect from insurance companies and also to perform Medical Massage within a physician's setting. This is patently untrue!
They are sending letters to Massage Therapists claiming that the "White House Commission on Complimentary Alternative Medicine has set the wheels in motion for incorporating certified Medical Massage therapists into the official health care system as of 2005".
This is also patently untrue.
At this time there is only one state, Washington State, which has regulations providing for reimbursement of services for the Massage Therapists. Until recently, Florida had regulations in place, which provided for Massage Therapists to bill personal injury cases. This regulation was changed dramatically on May 4th, 2012, when Governor Richard Lynn Scott signed into law a bill that would prohibit the state's Massage Therapists and Acupuncturists from billing personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
In order to perform Medical Massage, the Massage Therapist must always be licensed in his or her particular state, and have met the required educational standards of that particular state.
Some states will allow licensed therapists to bill for personal injuries, (car accidents etc.) if the service is deemed medically necessary by a referring physician. Some of these states will also allow for workers compensation reimbursement.
It is advised that all therapists get approval from any insurance carrier prior to beginning treatment.
In some unlicensed states, a person who practices massage therapy without a license, may be able to bill insurance for personal injury to a client , such as a car accident, but these are determined on an individual basis with the particular insurance company claims adjuster.
It is State Licensure and State regulations which determine the ability of a Massage Therapist or any provider of services to get reimbursement from insurance companies, not certifications by anyone or any organization.
Please do not be misled into believing you need to join any organization , or get any particular certification so that you can bill insurance companies for your services.
IWe do support your being a member of associations (for example: AMTA, NCBTMB, FSMTA, and other legitimate state or national organizations), which work for the betterment of our industry.
Getting certified in particular specialties should certainly improve your skills and hopefully your ability to create a more successful practice, whether you choose to utilize insurance billing, work within a physician's setting or not.
Be aware of private organizations and private associations, which mislead you into believing that you will be left out of the Medical Massage field if you do not take their particular certification or join their particular organization. This is also patently untrue!
What our industry needs in order to be accepted by the insurance industry on a national basis, is a national standard of education.
All states will have to come together and agree on a minimum standard curriculum .
This is the same as the Physical Therapists, Chiropractors ,Doctors etc. have had to do.
This is the only way an insurance company can know that when they receive a bill for payment from someone for massage therapy, that person has achieved a standard of training which is accepted by all .
What Types of Massage Therapy are considered Medical Massage?
I believe all forms of Massage Therapy can be therapeutic when applied by a skillful and knowledgeable Therapist; therefore Medical Massage is not limited to any particular specific technique.
We incorporate several approaches in our Medical Massage Practitioner training, including, but not limited to, Muscle Testing, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, Positional Release, Trigger Point Therapy, and Rehabilitative Stretching Procedures.
It is common for some to play down the effects of so called Relaxation Massage and to even call it "Fluff " but as we learn more about the stress response and it's role in creating disease, we see a definite need for this type of service when necessary. Cardiologists and Psychiatrists are excellent referral sources.
The capacity to combine the intuitive and scientifically proven principles defines the art and science of Medical Massage Therapy.
What are the benefits of Medical Massage Therapy?
The following lists many of the benefits of Medical Massage Therapy.
- Releases tight and sore muscles which can cause Ischemia (Ischemia: A lack of blood supply to soft tissues, which causes hypersensitivity to the touch and allows for further injury to the tissues)
- Helps relieve nerve compression or entrapment. (Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone, which can contribute to muscle atrophy, referred pain, paresthesia, and conditions such as pseudo sciatica, piriformis syndrome, pseudo angina, and others.)
- Deactivates Myofascial Trigger Points (Trigger Points: Areas of high neurological activity, which refer pain to other parts of the body. Research has shown, trigger points may be responsible for as much as 74% of everyday pain.)
Decreases Pain And Inflammation:
Massage can restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. It's the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm and helps to release toxins such as lactic acid (produced by muscle tissue during exercise).
- Alleviates Stress and Improves Circulation:
Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste to be eliminated from the cells. Massage encourages a better exchange of nutrients at the cellular level and more thorough detoxification. Remember, the future "you" is determined by how well your army of cells regenerate themselves, so this is indeed a critical part of remaining healthy. Massage has been practiced for thousands of years and is one of the earliest health treatments known to man. That is why it remains one of the best ways of dealing with everyday stress.
Aids in Digestion:
Massage can improve digestive motility.
Increases Flexibility And Range Of Motion:
By reducing hypertonicity and hypotonicity the muscles allow for normal ranges of motion to be restored. This also reduces the forces being applied to the joint capsule and diminishes the potential for joint and disk degeneration.
- Calms The Nervous System:
The first sense to develop is your sense of touch. It's not surprising when you consider that each square inch of your skin contains roughly 50 nerve endings. With as many as five million total touch receptors in your skin relaying messages on to your brain, your body's initial response to massage is to relax and de-stimulate. Even a simple touch has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate. Touch can also signal the brain to produce endorphins, your body's natural pain suppressors. The nervous system is your communication network, sending messages constantly that determine proper functioning throughout your body. Stress can affect the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage, and this contributes to keeping your internal lines of communication open and operational.
- Improves Posture And Coordination
Medical Massage is cost effective.
By assisting the client towards a quicker recovery from acute headaches, neck and back pain, skeletal muscular strains, sprains, etc. he or she is able to return to a normal productive life.
Medical Massage also helps to prevent future chronic pain conditions by effectively dealing with the cause of the problem and eliminating it. It is shown in scientific literature that over 80% of the pain is coming from soft tissue injuries, and over 74% is directly attributed to Trigger Points. Overall Medical Massage achieves results and substantial cost savings to the client, employer and to society. As the general public becomes more familiar with the role of the Medical Massage Therapist they will be better able to handle their everyday soft-tissue pains.
As powerful as Medical Massage Therapy can be, in certain cases it may be contraindicated. Please consult with your physician or health care provider to determine the appropriate treatment protocol.