When it comes to your health and wellness, massage therapy can make all the difference. But with a wide range of massages to choose from, it may be difficult to understand the differences and determine which type is right for you.
Depending on your lifestyle and what kind of results you hope to achieve, you may find yourself considering the difference between a medical massage vs. therapeutic massage.
At Hand in Health, we believe in keeping our clients educated about massage therapy so they can make informed decisions throughout their wellness journey. While medical massage and therapeutic massage can both offer exceptional benefits, it’s important to consider the purposes of each so you can select the one that best suits your specific needs.
What is the Difference Between Medical & Therapeutic Massage?
The purpose of massage therapy is to help patients improve their quality of life. In terms of benefits, both medical massage and therapeutic massage can achieve this ‒ they simply differ in approach.
What is Medical Massage?
A medical massage is an outcome-based treatment that is intended to resolve diagnosed medical conditions, including injuries and musculoskeletal/neuroskeletal issues. Many people have come to rely on this type of massage, with recent research showing that 78 percent of massage consumers have used massage therapy for medical reasons.
Incorporating a broader range of techniques for muscle health and recovery, medical massage focuses on specific areas related to an individual’s condition. A personalized plan is developed for treatment, along with recommendations for scheduled visits to achieve improved results.
While a physician’s script is not required for treatment, a diagnosis is often helpful for your therapist to review, as well as any outside diagnostic information such as an MRI report or physical therapy notes. Such documentation should be seen as complementary to the work of a medical massage practitioner.
Many patients looking for medical massage seek insurance reimbursement. Due to the variety and complexity of insurance plans, we encourage you to contact your insurance company to determine what coverage may be available. Your practitioner will gladly provide you with any information your insurance company may need to seek reimbursement.
Benefits of Medical Massage
With a more targeted technique, medical massage focuses solely on treating a specific medical condition to produce tangible results. This can include healing injuries, relieving symptoms and pain, improving flexibility and range of motion, and enhancing blood flood and circulation.
What is Therapeutic Massage?
A therapeutic massage primarily centers on relieving pain, reducing stress, and addressing any areas of dysfunction. Since this type of massage does not require a diagnosis, there is no need to develop a specific care plan or designate a certain number of sessions. The techniques used and frequency of visits is ultimately at the discretion of the patient.
While therapeutic massage can be customized to target specific areas, such as the neck or shoulders, it most often focuses on the full body. This type of massage can also help to promote relaxation by sedating the body and the mind.
Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
Since therapeutic massage usually involves a more general approach that takes the full body into account, it can typically help to improve overall health and wellness. With an emphasis on relaxation, its benefits can range from reducing stress and anxiety to easing muscle tension and improving sleep quality.
To experience the benefits of therapeutic massage, book an appointment at one of our locations today.
What Conditions Can Medical & Therapeutic Massage Treat?
While both medical massage and therapeutic massage involve applying pressure to the body, the different techniques used by each are intended for various conditions.
Medical massage is typically used to treat specific issues and medically diagnosed conditions, including:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Herniated Discs
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscle Spasms
- Chronic Muscle Tightness & Tension
Therapeutic massage most often incorporates the full body and can help to alleviate conditions, such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Muscle Tightness & Tension
What Techniques Are Used in Medical & Therapeutic Massage?
Since medical massage and therapeutic massage have different intentions and results, it stands to reason that they also incorporate various modalities.
With medical massage therapy, the techniques used are always dependent on the specific condition and area of the body being treated. This can involve the manipulation of blood and lymph flow and muscle tissues, as well as the chemical release of hormones and endorphins. Your massage therapist will take your unique needs into account when choosing the methods for your personalized care plan.
Since therapeutic massage can focus on any number of areas across the body, a wide range of modalities are used, from relaxed Swedish massage strokes to firm pressure in targeted areas, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, orthopedic massage techniques, and stretching. Depending on your needs and direction, the massage can be fully customized to reduce pain and/or encourage relaxation.
Experience Massage Therapy for Yourself
Whether you’re interested in treating a specific medical condition or generally achieving pain relief and relaxation, massage therapy can put you on the path toward improved health and healing.
With locations in Downtown Syracuse and North Syracuse, NY, Hand in Health is dedicated to finding the right solution for your needs, whether it be medical massage or therapeutic massage. Get in touch with us to book an appointment today!