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How to Get a Physician Referral for a Medical Massage

Updated on June 18, 2013

If you feel that your acute or chronic pain can benefit from massage therapy, ask your physician to write a prescription for bodywork by a licensed massage therapist. In addition to medications and rest, many sufferers of back, shoulder and neck pain may benefit from weekly or more massage treatments. Massage therapy can decrease pain, increase restful sleep and treat insomnia, and even reduce the amount of pain medication needed to control your pain. Massage therapy has grown in respect and studies have shown the importance in the power of touch. Ensure that your massage experience is the best possible and the most beneficial.

How can Massage Benefit Your Condition?

As massage therapy studies show how beneficial it is to chronic and acute pain, the professional medical community has shown a new respect for the power of touch and palliative (soothing) care. Massage techniques improve many conditions and treat the body without side effects, harsh chemicals, and soothes the muscles, nerves, tendons and body tissues. In light of new studies, massage therapy is used to assist cancer patients through the painful and emotional turmoil of medical interventions. Patients that spend long periods of time in isolation find massage a gentle and much needed connection of another human being that spends time and shares their thoughts.

  • Acute body pain from a recent accident or trauma
  • Chronic body pain that requires a large dosage of pain medications throughout the day
  • Treats insomnia and promotes restful sleep
  • Reduces anxiety and calms the nerves and soothes muscle spasms
  • Decreases pain and requires less pain medications and reduces the side effects of prescriptions
  • Moves the muscles and tissues to increase circulation, promote oxygenation, and rid the body of toxins
  • Helps to invigorate and stimulate muscle tissue and releases tendon and ligament spasms
  • Increases energy and enhances the production of endorphins, a powerful natural pain-killer that improves mood and treats depression

Check with Your Health Insurance Provider for Reimbursement Guidelines

Call your health insurance agent and ask what their requirements are for the reimbursement or coverage for a prescription massage session. In addition, ask how much they will cover for a session, how often, and what are the requirements of the massage therapist to be eligible to bill them successfully.

Ensure Your Massage Therapist is Licensed or Registered as Required by Your State Regulations

Massage therapists are regulated by the state and have different guidelines and regulations for the massage field. Under the category of the “complimentary and palliative care” part of patient treatment, always choose a massage therapist that is in good standing and holds the highest license or credentials that are necessary for your particular state. It is important that your massage therapist is eligible to bill your insurance company.

A Massage Therapist is Different than a Masseuse

A masseuse is a term used for anyone that can perform massage techniques. However, a massage therapist is used to identify a person that has had formal training or has been certified or licensed in the discipline of massage therapy. A registered or licensed massage therapist is most likely going to be able to bill an insurance company for your massage, not a masseuse.

Choose a Massage Therapist that You Feel a Connection With

Searching for a massage therapist can take some time but it is important to connect with someone that you can feel comfortable with and eventually trust. Speak with the therapist on the phone and see if they seem compassionate and easy to speak with. You and your therapist will engage in a therapeutic relationship that is guided by your response to their touch and the pressure of their hands. It is important that you can communicate with a therapist that understands your feelings and pays close attention to how you are benefiting from their massage techniques.

Ensure that Your Massage Therapist is Aware of All Your Medical Conditions

Discuss with your therapist what your treatment and plan of care should be together. Listen to your therapists instructions and follow their recommendations before and after your massage. If possible, have your physician and massage therapist work together on your plan of care and what expectations are desired from the therapy. Report your progress or benefits from your massage therapy sessions to your physician in order to justify and continue the massage therapy sessions.

How to Get a Physician Referral for a Medical Massage

Ensure your condition will benefit from massage
Discuss the benefits you may receive from massage with your physician and a massage therapist
Devise a plan of care from both your doctor and therapist
Ask you physician for a referral for masssage therapy
Explain your expectations and the benefits you will recieve
You may wish to: Decrease the amount of pain-killers you use, or decrease the pain during the eveing and promote sleep x once a week
Check with your insurance company what the requirements are for massage
Make sure your therapist meets the requirements of the coverage guidelines
Discuss the benefits of massage and follow the therapists recommendations
Find a therapist that you can communicate with and feel comfortable
Work with the therapist in a therapeutic relationship that is beneficial
Report your progress to your doctor and to continue the justification of therapy

Test Your Massage Therapy Prescription Knowledge!

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      I benefit greatly from a professional massage, but the price! Thanks for this helpful hub.

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      Actually I am looking for a referral for a massage from a beautiful woman and please don't tell me to go to the back pages of a local newspaper - lol lol lol

      But all kidding aside Deborah - once again you have achieved your world class status as the ultimate healer with yours always enlightened and educational text and research. You are second to none in this genre of writing and right at the top of your field.

      Sending you warm wishes from the cold wind chills of lake erie time 2:34pm canada and off for a walk now around the bay of my lake and I will return to you later on this afternoon and look forward to reading another one of your hub gems

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I will be contacting my insurance company. It would be great if they approved it for insomnia. Thanks so much for the useful information!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Though I don't like to be touched myself, I did take a few massage coarses because my wife really like them.


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