Many physical therapists are also trained in massage therapy. They realize that soft tissue work, such as massage therapy, extends the benefits of physical therapy. When physical therapists, occupational therapists, and massage therapists work together, they can assist their patients with dramatic improvements from injury to many areas of their bodies.
Conditions that benefit from physical therapy combined with massage therapy
- Shoulder surgery including SLAP tears (injury to the labrum area of the shoulder), rotator cuff repair, and arthroscopic surgery
- Tendonitis or bursitis of the shoulder
- Dysfunction of the Sacroiliac joint (SIJ)
- Knee pain, including knee surgery for meniscus tears, ACL, and PCL
- Ankle strains and sprains, and foot pain
- Neck pain, and neck and back surgery
- Headaches and TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorders
- Myofascial pain, which is chronic, painful condition affecting the fascia that may involve a single muscle or a muscle group.
Insurance coverage for massage therapy with physical therapy
Different insurance providers have different coverages when it comes to massage therapy. Medicare does not cover massage therapy at all unless it is provided by a physical therapist. Massage therapy may be covered by some health insurances if it is prescribed by a physician, a registered physical therapist, an osteopath, or a chiropractor.
These medical professionals are becoming more willing to prescribe massage therapy to assist with pain and recovery from surgery and injuries because they have seen how much it helps their patients.
Massage therapy is incredibly effective in helping people deal with pain. When your doctor makes the determination that a massage is medically necessary, many health insurance plans will cover it. They will, however, require proof from your doctor that the treatment has been medically prescribed.
Many doctors would rather prescribe a pain mediation than take the time to justify a prescription for massage therapy to a health insurance company. If you are allergic to pain medications or have many unwanted side effects from them, this is a strong reason for your doctor to use in proscribing massage therapy for your pain relief.
Many pain medications also interfere with memory, coordination, and a patient’s ability to remain gainfully employed. This can be another justification your doctor can use with your health insurance company.
If your physical therapist is also a massage therapist, he or she may be able to provide massage therapy to you and bill it as part of your physical therapy—which in essence it is.
Even if your health insurance does cover massage therapy, many massage therapists are not set up to correctly bill insurance companies. You may have to pay out of pocket for your treatment and send the bills to your insurance company for reimbursement
Of course, the best of all scenarios is when your physical therapist can also provide massage therapy and bill it with the physical therapy. Just remember, though, that when physical therapists not trained in massage therapy say they will massage a muscle, it will not be the relaxing Swedish massage that you receive, but a massage that is designed to decrease muscle tightness, and improve muscle tone and tissue mobility.