Massage Current Procedural Techniques or CPT Codes are the codes that you need to describe your massage services to insurance companies.  The CPT codes are created by the American Medical Association (AMA).

The basic Massage CPT codes are as follows:

97124 -Therapeutic Procedure, 15 minutes. One or more areas, including effleruage, pettrissage and/or tapotement, compression, percussion.

97140- Therapeutic Procedure, 15 minutes. Mobilization, manipulation, manual lymphatic drainage, manual traction, one or more regions.

97122- Therapeutic Procedure, 15 minutes. One or more areas, Neuromuscular re-education of movement, balance, coordination, kinesthetic sense, posture and proprioception.

97010 – Hot/Cold Packs

What code you use depends on what training you have and what codes the insurance company will allow.  You choose the code that best describes your training and skills.  Insurance companies usually pay different rates for different codes but you should not pick a code just because you will get paid more.

Because most of these codes are timed codes, you also must include in your chart notes the amount of time you spent on each area.  There is an 8 minute rule (See this document at (PDF) and search for 8 minute rule):

When only one service is provided in a day, providers should not bill for services performed for less than 8 minutes. For any single timed CPT code in the same day measured in 15 minute units, providers bill a single 15-minute unit for treatment greater than or equal to 8 minutes through and including 22 minutes. If the duration of a single modality or procedure in a day is greater than or equal to 23 minutes through and including 37 minutes, then 2 units should be billed. Time intervals for 1 through 8 units are as follows:
Units Number of Minutes
1 unit:  8 minutes through 22 minutes
2 units:  23 minutes through 37 minutes
3 units:  38 minutes through 52 minutes
4 units:  53 minutes through 67 minutes
5 units:  68 minutes through 82 minutes
6 units:  83 minutes through 97 minutes
7 units:  98 minutes through 112 minutes
8 units:  113 minutes through 127 minutes

Coding Tips:

  • Only use one of these codes on a bill; 97140 or 97124. Don’t use both.
  • 97010 hot/cold packs is now mostly ‘bundled’ with 97124 or 97140 meaning you might not be able to bill a separate fee for this service.
  • If you are paid for using an improper code, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is acceptable.  You are responsible for billing the proper codes.
  • Questionable codes are: 97110, 97112, 97530, 97001-97006 (which are codes dealing with evaluation and re-evaluation).  Once in awhile you may find a company that will pay for those.  It is still not clear whether a massage therapist is able to use those codes.
  • Codes are not restricted to one group of providers.  Some try to say that the codes listed above are physical therapy codes.  Any procedure code may be used by a qualified provider.
  • Know your codes.  Know your billing procedures.
  • Have Patience!
  • You have to know more than just the codes – you need to know how to use them and how to bill to get paid by insurance.  To learn more about billing see my book :  Insurance Billing 101 for Massage Therapists.    It is important for more massage therapists to start billing insurance for medically based treatments.  We currently need more people involved so they know what is happening and who will start taking a stand to get massage therapy the recognition and respect that it deserves.