Massage- it’s been around forever. Why isn’t it utilized more often?

By Ivy Bagley

The first written records of massage therapy are found in China and Egypt. It’s one of the longest practiced professions, but it still remains uncovered by most insurances and not recommended very often in the current medical world. In a world focused on an opioid epidemic and at times forcing patients to go without adequate pain management; why has massage not become covered by insurances and why are providers still hesitant to prescribe massage therapy?

I started seeing various massage therapists about ten years ago. I found an amazing massage therapist and utilized her until she went to nursing school. I had tried other therapists but hadn’t quite found the best fit for me until I met Laura Hardy. Laura has helped me manage a chronic foot injury (pain from a broken foot) and helped me avoid surgery. I am grateful I found her and we have begun a journey to enhance my overall health. 

Massage therapy has been proven to help with stress, postoperative pain, anxiety, fibromyalgia pain, Sleep, depression, rheumatoid arthritis pain, chronic neck pain, joint replacement pain, and quality of life in hospice care. And, there are many more conditions massage therapy can play a role in helping patients manage better.

One of the biggest drawbacks is financial. For a patient with chronic back pain and health insurance, a pain pill is covered typically well (often less than $10). However, massage therapy is likely not covered. And, if covered at all, would be difficult for reimbursement. The bottom line: Insurance companies do not make it easy for massage therapist to complete a successful claim. The requirements set by insurance companies for reimbursement would be difficult for a massage therapist to meet. And, insurance companies make credentialing difficult.

Another drawback- traditional providers do not recommend massage routinely for their patients. During all of my care, no traditional provider ever suggested massage therapy as an initial treatment. When I discuss the benefits, they are receptive to listening. However, I think we need more education among the healthcare team regarding the pros of ongoing massage therapy treatment.

Massage therapy is an adjunct treatment option and should be considered part of routine management of pain conditions as well as stress and chronic illnesses.

As with any profession, not every provider is for you. Research and find the provider that works best with your current healthcare needs and do not be afraid to try someone new if the first massage experience is less than ideal.

Consider booking a massage soon- trust me your body will say THANK YOU!

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