Medical Massage Therapy

“It was Timothy L. Fitzgerald, M.D. at Mary Free Bed Hospital that first suggested the use of the descriptive identity “Medical Massage” by the American Medical Massage Association” according to the AMMA.

Medical Massage Practitioners of America definition:

Medical Massage is result oriented and the treatment is specifically directed to resolve conditions that have been diagnosed and prescribed by a Physician. The therapist may use a variety of modalities or procedures during the treatment, but will focus the Medical Massage treatment only on the areas of the body related to the diagnosis and prescription. Medical Massage is generally billed in 15-minute segments using current procedural terminology and adhering to the usual and customary reimbursement fee schedule.  

LMT Success Group definition:

By definition, medical massage is a therapeutic massage prescribed by a physician and performed following the directives of that physician. Medical massage does not refer to any specific treatment method and can include various massage protocols and modalities. Medical massage is outcome-oriented instead of time-oriented.


Medical Massage

Performing medical massage requires a firm background in pathology and utilizes specific treatments appropriate to working with disease, pain, and recovery from injury. The therapist may work from a physician’s prescription or as an adjunct healer within a hospital or physical therapy setting.

Budzek Medical Massage Therapy™ is designed to relieve acute and chronic pain originating from muscles, nerves and joints. It is based on the principles of 12 different bodywork modalities and addresses 8 different aspects of the Musculoskeletal Pain Cycle.

Peter Lane’s definition of medical massage from Massage Today should:

  • Be an accepted part of allied health care and physical medicine.
  • Be a system of patient care and treatment based on a medical model that is scientific, hands-on and results-oriented.
  • Be derived from a specific diagnosis that requires certain specific techniques or procedures to bring about a specific measurable response from the patient.
  • Be a discipline that operates as a scientific system utilizing universally accepted medical terminology.
  • Produce practitioners who participate in scientific research that demonstrates a measurable response to a patient’s chief medical problem.
  • Treat a variety of specific musculoskeletal indications with an educated understanding of how every system of the body is affected by every other system.
  • Be a comprehensive set of contraindications for the modality as well.
  • NOT be a system of diagnosis and treatment that relies upon the use of prescription medication to treat musculoskeletal related dysfunctions.

These days, many other definitions of medical massage are floating around the country. Some serve the limited financial gain of a person or organization promoting a particular definition. Some definitions state medical massage should only be practiced in a doctor’s office under the absolute control of an MD or DC. If practiced in a PT clinic, it must be under the domain of a PT. One organization states only students who take their “national certification examination” in medical massage should be recognized as a medical massage therapist.