Is Massage Therapy a Medical Treatment?

Massage is increasingly being recognized as an important part of integrative medicine, and medical centers are offering it as a treatment alongside standard treatments. It can be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, and there was some concern that physical therapists providing massage would be considered to be providing medical treatment rather than first aid. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) wanted to know if therapists who are not certified in Active Release Techniques (ART) could perform various forms of massage at the first aid level, which has already been interpreted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as first aid. Massage can reduce pain and anxiety for people with chronic diseases, such as cancer, and reduce the physiological burden of stress.

It can help treat conditions such as stress-related stress, cancer-related fatigue, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, low back pain, and depression. Massage therapists are responsible for governing their own practice and making their own treatment decisions. When they work with doctors and physical therapists, they collaborate but make their own treatment decisions. Massage therapists work to relieve muscle pain and reduce inflammation, so that patients respond better to exercise.

Massage therapy can not only control edema and reduce pain in injured joints, but it can also relieve discomfort in compensatory muscles, so patients are prepared to make the most of their physical or occupational therapy. Finally, OSHA added that the record-keeping regulations state that the professional condition of the person providing treatment has no effect on what is considered first aid or medical treatment. As medical professionals in their own right, massage therapists offer valuable, research-proven services that provide better health for people suffering from stress and chronic pain. Depending on their training, they may incorporate deep tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point work, various movement therapies, or passive-resistive stretching techniques.

A massage therapist can work on a range of medical problems that are chronic (meaning they last a long time) or acute (a medical problem that has occurred recently and can be treated in the near future). Physical therapy and pain relievers help, but persistent pain and medication side effects can delay recovery. Massage therapy can help with serious medical problems from low back pain to migraines and whiplash. Research suggests that massages help patients better manage chronic conditions such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

At the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, licensed massage therapists have years of experience and training in treating patients with complicated medical conditions, specifically cancer, and using massage to improve overall health. Massage is becoming increasingly accepted as a valid form of medical treatment for a wide range of conditions.