Therapeutic Medical Massages
Therapeutic massage increasingly is being prescribed by physicians to complement traditional medical treatment for illness, injury and pain as a growing body of research documents its efficacy.
Medical practices are hiring massage therapists on staff or establishing referral relationships to make it easy for patients to find qualified, professional massage therapists.
Massage doesn’t just feel good. It reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion and increases serotonin and endorphins, enhancing medical treatment.
And, health insurance companies, realizing the cost savings of massage, are more and more often covering the therapy when it is a prescribed aspect of treatment.
What is therapeutic massage?
Therapeutic massage involves manipulation of the soft tissue structures of the body to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, muscle spasm and stress.
It also improves functioning of the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems and may improve the rate at which the body recovers from injury and illness. Massage comes in many forms, including:
- Swedish massage, a gentle, relaxing massage;
- Pressure point therapy for specific diseases or injuries – from trigger point and myotherapy to shiatsu and acupressure;
- Sports massage focuses on muscle groups relevant to the particular sport.
Denver Medical Massage and Traditional Medicine
Medical professionals are becoming more knowledgeable about the healing properties of massage therapy and are commonly integrating the services of massage therapists.
Consumers spend $4 billion to $6 billion a year on visits to massage therapists, according to an American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) analysis of a study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November 1998.
“Massage therapy is a complementary therapy, not alternative anymore. It’s of tremendous benefit.” – Brad Stuart, M.D., Hospice Medical Director for the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Northern California
According to a national survey conducted by the State University of New York at Syracuse, 54 percent of primary care physicians and family practitioners said they would encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy as a treatment. Of those, 34 percent said they are willing to refer the patient to a massage therapist.
A national survey of consumers attitudes about massage, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International in July 2000, found that, among those people who discussed massage with their primary healthcare provider, 71 percent reported the conversation was favorable and 20 percent found the response from their doctor to be neutral.
Hospitals are bringing massage therapists on staff and wellness centers are incorporating a number of therapies – including massage – for the healing of patients.
“Massage therapy has been shown to promote healing of all types. It minimizes swelling, softens the skin and underlying tissues faster and promotes lymphatic drainage. The integration is a natural.” – Grant Stevens, M.D., plastic surgeon, Los Angeles
Private practice physicians are aligning themselves with Denver medical massage therapists by:
- Contract, with a massage therapist holding regular hours in the office several days a week, or working on an on-call basis;
- Hiring a massage therapist as a staff member.
How does therapeutic massage fit into a medical practice?
Physicians are prescribing therapeutic massage in Denver for a wide range of medical conditions, including:
- Asthma and bronchitis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic and temporary pain
- Circulatory problems
- Digestive disorders, including spastic colon and constipation
- Myofascial pain
- Reduced range of motion
- Sports injuries, including pulled or strained muscles and ligaments
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
Research documents the benefits of therapeutic massage
A considerable body of research documents the therapeutic benefits of massage, with published results in top medical and scientific journals.
In the mid-1990s, through the Office of Alternative Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $10 million in grants to study alternative and complementary therapies for a variety of ailments, from women’s health and chronic illness, to pain and addictions.
Among NIH funded studies on therapeutic massage is research that reported:
- cortisol levels and blood pressure dropped more quickly in post-abdominal surgery patients undergoing massage therapy compared to a control group;
- cancer patients who had massage therapy while undergoing bone marrow transplant were much less anxious and fatigued;
- HIV-exposed infants who underwent massage therapy fared better than those who did not, in terms of weight gain, neonatal performance and exhibition of stress behaviors;
- medical and nursing students who had massage therapy demonstrated an increased immune response (immunoglobulin and apoptosis) in the week before professional board exams, compared to those who did not have the treatment.
In addition to the NIH research, the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine has published or has underway 70 studies on the effects of massage in clinical situations ranging from post?traumatic stress to migraine headache. Working in conjunction with Duke University, researchers measured the body’s biochemical levels after massage norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine.
Medical Massage Therapy and Insurance
Responding to consumer demand, many health insurance plans now cover massage provided by a massage therapist or provide affinity discount programs for massage.
Workers compensation and auto insurance Personal Injury Protection coverage usually cover therapeutic massage.
Once medical massage therapy is prescribed, the policy holder or physician’s office may need to seek authorization from the insurer if coverage is not clearly spelled out in the policy or plan.
Our Denver therapeutic massage therapists deliver expert medical massages at our Cherry Creek clinic. Call 303-777-1151 for an appointment today!