Medical massage

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Medical massage is outcome-based massage, primarily the application of a specific treatment targeted to the specific problem(s) the patient presents with a diagnosis and are administered after a thorough assessment/evaluation by the medical massage therapist with specific outcomes being the basis for treatment. It is also known as clinical massage or treatment massage.

There are many massage schools and programs claiming to teach 'Medical Massage' technique. There is no one technique that is medical massage. It is taking whatever style of massage the practitioner does or knows and applying that technique to various conditions.


Massage has been considered to be 'medical massage' since the mid-1800s. Professor Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914), a neurologist in Philadelphia, PA in the US, is thought to be the first to bring massage to the attention of the US Medical Community. In 1884, Douglas Graham, MD of Boston Massachusetts wrote A Practical Treatise on Massage which focuses on the treatment of specific diseases and disorders by the method of massage. In 1885, Dr Harvey Kellogg published the classic textbook The Art of Massage,Its Physiological Effects and Therapeutic Actions. During the nineteenth century, massage in Europe was described in the medical literature and was taught at institutions and also offered by lay practitioners. In 1886, William Murrell, an English Physician wrote a book Massage as a Mode of Treatment. In Russia, M.Y. Mudrov, MD used massage and movement exercises in his medical practice with adults and later applied it to the development of children. [1]

Massage has been popular as a form of medical treatment in Russia since the late 1700s.[2]

The American Medical Massage Association[3] (1998) and The United States Medical Massage Association (1999) followed with similar goals of lifting the profession to higher standards and, in turn, giving patients a better outcome. The AMMA has worked [according to whom?] with the standard medical community to massage therapy into the mainstream; they have done this through a board of advisers that includes massage therapists, physicians, chiropractors etc.

The term medical massage has grown in popularity because of its unique ability to bring massage therapy into the mainstream and present massage therapy in a positive way to doctors. More good massage therapists are raising their education levels and integrating the term medical massage into their routines. Massage therapists can bill for massage as long as they are licensed in massage therapy and are able to show improvement in the condition of the patient/client.

The term medical massage was birthed out of:

  1. the public's need for highly skilled, hands-on therapists in treating those with injuries and chronic pain,
  2. the present explosion of information in the injury-rehabilitation field which began with the ground-breaking work of Dr. Janet G Travell (1901–1997,)[4] and
  3. the benefit patients receive with medical massage.


Any massage therapist can claim to be a medical massage therapist. Massage customers should evaluate the training that their therapists has received to make sure the therapists are qualified to treat specific conditions. Washington State is one of the only states that mandates that Massage Therapists be allowed to be contracted providers with health insurance companies. Currently, the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010 does make provisions for every type of provider to be covered in insurance plans. It is possible that massage will be covered by insurance under this new Act.[5]


Medical massage is useful in addressing conditions such as:[citation needed]


  1. ^ The History of Massage by Robert Calvert, 2002
  2. ^ "A History of Russian Medical Massage". 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  3. ^ "American Medical Massage Association provides ce programs, testing, products and licensing help for massage professionals". Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  4. ^ "Introduction and Timeline - Travell Onine Exhibit - Gelman Library". Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  5. ^ "The Affordable Healthcare Act and the Massage Profession". 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2013-10-12.