Medical Massage

  • What is medical massage? It is a doctor-prescribed massage therapy that follows the directions of that doctor. The therapist may use a variety of procedures and techniques but must focus the treatment strictly on the areas of the body described in the prescription. Treatment takes place over the course of several short sessions.
  • Why is a prescription required? Massage therapists are not qualified to diagnose a patient, so a prescription helps describe the medical condition to be treated with massage. The massage therapist will address the areas and conditions outlined by the prescription.
  • What are the different types of medical massage? When administered correctly by a trained and experienced therapist, any type of massage therapy can be therapeutic and beneficial to patients. It is not limited to any certain technique or procedure.


Massage has been used as a medical treatment dating back to the Chinese over 5000 years ago. More recently Professor Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914), a neurologist in Philadelphia is thought to be the first to bring massage to the attention of the US medical community. In 1884, Douglas Graham, MD of Boston Massachusetts wrote A Practical Treatise on Massage which focuses on the treatment of specific diseases and disorders by using massage as a treatment. In 1885, Dr. Harvey Kellogg published the classic textbook The Art of Massage, Its Physiological Effects, and Therapeutic Actions. During the nineteenth century, massage in Europe was described in the medical literature and was taught at institutions and also offered by lay practitioners. In 1886, William Murrell, an English Physician wrote the book Massage as a Mode of Treatment. In Russia, M.Y. Mudrov, MD used massage and movement exercises in his medical practice with adults and later applied them to the development of children

What is the difference between a medical massage and a massage?

During a spa massage, the techniques likely focus on relaxation. A medical massage therapist will use a broader set of therapies for muscle health and recovery. It includes specific follow-up recommendations.


What does a medical massage consist of?
The therapist may use various techniques during your treatment session. Depending on their training, they may incorporate deep tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point work, various movement therapies, or passive-resistive stretching techniques.
Are medical massages worth it?
Massage benefits can include: Reducing stress and increasing relaxation. Reducing pain and muscle soreness and tension. Improving circulation, energy, and alertness.
Does a medical massage hurt?
Deep tissue massages may cause you a little discomfort or slight pain in the areas that are causing you trouble. Discomfort is normal with this type of massage therapy. Most clients say it’s a “good hurt” where it’s a little uncomfortable but feel good at the same time.
What are the benefits of medical massage?
  • Helps to decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Deactivates Myofascial trigger points.
  • Helps digestion.
  • Calms and soothes the nervous system.
  • Improves posture and coordination.
  • Helps in preventing future chronic pain conditions.
  • Improves flexibility and range of motion.
Why do muscles pop during the massage?
Joints contain synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates the joint rather like oil would in a hinge. Gas bubbles can build up in the synovial fluid. Movement makes the gas bubbles “pop-out”.
Why does my neck crunch when I roll my head?
Very small gas bubbles can form within your synovial joints (joints, including facet joints, that have a lubricating lining and fluid). When the bubbles collapse, they are released, which creates cracking noises in your joints. In this case, these cracking sounds can happen during your neck’s natural movements.
What should you not do after a massage?
  1. Not Drinking Enough Water. After massage therapy, decreasing your water intake after the massage therapy is not ideal. …
  2. Take A Shower Immediately. …
  3. Taking Hot Shower. …
  4. Eating A Large Meal. …
  5. Drinking Coffee. …
  6. Drinking Alcohol. …
  7. Doing Strenuous Exercise or Activities. …
  8. Stressing Yourself Out.
What is the crunchy feeling when massaging?
Going over tense areas with double thumbs. This popping or crunching feeling is breaking down what has built up, the body is then more able to flush out these toxins. Some clients may wince at this feeling others describe it as a ‘good pain’ and it instantly feels better once this has been done.
What does it mean if a muscle is crunchy?
Essentially, muscle knots have reduced blood flow and circulation, which means toxins can become trapped in these areas. Over time, trapped toxins will solidify in the muscle knot if not dealt with, resulting in hard, crunchy bumps.
What are knots?
Knots are usually a type of spasm that causes a small portion of a muscle to tense up. This tension can often be painful. ‌Muscle knots usually happen because a muscle has been irritated by a repetitive motion.
What are the knots in my neck?
Muscle knots are those kinks in your back and the tight, ropy strands in your neck. Also known as trigger points, they are areas where your muscles have tensed up and refused to let go.
Can you have a muscle knot for years?
Yes. This will eventually give you the feeling of a solid lump / ‘knot’ within muscle tissue. Some of these lumps can reduce with treatment (if seen quickly), but the longer it sits there untreated the more likely they will become permanent!
How do you break up a muscle knot?

This can be part of therapeutic treatment from a trained professional, or you can also try it yourself at home. “Just put pressure on the trigger point or knot for 5 to 10 seconds, and then release it. When a muscle is tight like that, it can limit blood flow in that area.
What is a ropey muscle?
Often people refer to the pain in their shoulders as “knots” or “ropes”. Knots and Ropes are muscles that are being overstretched. The pain comes from the tendon sending out an emergency message, hoping you will do something about it. To protect itself, the muscle will harden to keep from being pulled any further.
What causes stringy?
Over time, if not addressed, chronic muscle tension causes other changes in the muscle tissues, which become stiff and hardened (and sometimes stuck together) – a process called fibrosis. Because the natural toxins become trapped inside the muscle they often solidify – similar to the limescale build-up in a kettle. The term fibrosis describes the development of fibrous connective tissue as a reparative response to injury or damage. Fibrosis may refer to the connective tissue deposition that occurs as part of normal healing or to the excess tissue deposition that occurs as a pathological process. When fibrosis occurs in response to injury, the term “scarring” is used. 
Why is my fascia so tight?
Tight fascia can be a result of physical trauma, such as an injury or surgery. It can also be a result of inactivity or habitual poor posture. There are several manual therapy methods that can help keep fascia flexible and healthy.
What are myofascial trigger points?
A myofascial trigger point is a hyperirritable spot, usually within a taut band of skeletal muscle, which is painful on compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena.
What does it feel like when a trigger point is released?
Trigger points feel like little marbles or knots just under your skin. When pressing on trigger points, many people feel no pain or discomfort. Sometimes, trigger points become very sensitive, and some people feel significant pain in areas where they have trigger points.
What can a massage therapist tell about you?
A therapist can tell whether you stretch or exercise and what type of activities you participate in based on the length of your muscles or tensions you may have in certain areas. Whether you drink enough water. Dry skin and underlying tissue are indicators of lack of hydration.
How long after a massage can I shower?
Many people feel a shower or bath after a massage is actually a healthy and normal thing to do. When in fact, it is quite the opposite. Whether you receive an oil massage, aromatherapy, or reflexology, the answer is to not shower before a massage or after. Leave a few-hour buffer period before doing so.
How long do the effects of a massage last?
On average, the benefits of massage can last up to a month or as little as 1 day. On average, most people notice the benefits for about a week. This is one of the reasons it’s recommended that you get a massage on a regular basis.
How do you release tight shoulders?
1. Shoulder raises
  1. While standing or sitting, and with your arms by your side and a straight back, slowly lift your shoulders up toward your ears.
  2. Hold here for a few seconds.
  3. Slowly lower your shoulders back down.
  4. Repeat 5 times.
When should you not get a massage?
  • Fever. Anytime you have a fever, whether, from a cold, the flu, or some other infection, you should not get a massage. …
  • Contagious Diseases. …
  • Blood Clots. …
  • Pregnancy. …
  • Kidney Conditions or Liver Conditions. …
  • Cancer. …
  • Inflammation. …
  • Uncontrolled Hypertension.

The Biological Benefits of Frequent Massage


Very often there can be a fine line between medical and therapeutic massage therapy. For instance, general discomfort in an area usually responds very well to a therapeutic session. If pain or discomfort was due to a tight, overstimulated muscle, you can expect to feel better after the session. Often it is a terrific jumpstart to getting better.

However, very often, the muscle and soft tissue need to be re-educated. This will enable them to get and stay better. An example would be a short, contracted muscle being re-taught to stay properly lengthened, thereby allowing proper blood flow, nerve innervations, full range of motion, and a decrease in pain or discomfort. Medical geared massage incorporates many of the same techniques as therapeutic massage, along with more advanced modalities.

The goal of medical techniques is to produce permanent changes or in some cases, such as paraplegia, to maintain the health of the tissue. The results of medical massage are noted by a reduction of pain or discomfort for longer periods of time between sessions. Below you will find a general guideline outlining the major differences between medical and therapeutic massage. However, I strongly recommend asking the advice of your therapist if you have any reason to believe that medically geared massage would be more beneficial to you than therapeutic massage, please don’t hesitate to arrange for a consultation with Nicola.

Medical Massage Therapy Session Most often for:

Pain, CT Syndrome, TMJ, Sciatica, Herniated Discs, Scoliosis, Migraines, Muscle Spasms, M.S., Whiplash, Injuries, Chronic muscle tightness/tension, etc.

Therapeutic Massage Therapy Most often for:

Stress, Discomfort, Insomnia, Depression, Fatigue, High Blood Pressure, Muscle tightness/tension, Asthma, etc

Fascia is a tough connective tissue that spreads throughout the body in a three-dimensional web from head to foot. Much like a highly fluid, elastic body stocking, it functions without interruption. Fascia comes together at the end of muscles to become tendons, which attach to bones. It has been estimated that if every structure of the body except the fascia were removed, the body would retain its shape. A malfunction of one of the body’s systems due to trauma, poor posture, or inflammation can cause binding, impinging, or adhering of the fascia either to itself or to another body structure such as a muscle, bone, or organ. This results in abnormal pressure on any or all of the body’s components. Binding and restrictions in one area will affect other parts and areas of the body, similar to pulling on one end of a sweater, another area will be affected. The treatment used to treat myofascial restrictions is referred to as Myofascial Release.
Trigger points are accumulations of waste products around a nerve receptor. Trigger points form in muscles and/or fascia, which have been overused or injured. They can present themselves as sharp pain, dull ache, tingling, pins, needles, etc. Active trigger points are those, which cause discomfort. Latent trigger points wait silently in the muscle for future stress to activate them. It is common to attribute this discomfort to other conditions. The treatment used to treat trigger points is referred to as Trigger Point Therapy.
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*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.