How to Get a Doctor Referral for a Medical Massage

Written by stephen venneman
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Massage is increasingly becoming a popular treatment for soft-tissue injuries. It has been used for centuries, but only in recent years is it once again being accepted as a legitimate medical resource and not a codename for illicit activity. Still, getting a doctor's referral for massage therapy can be challenging. Most doctors tend to rely on their own drug-based training and view bodywork as a luxury. Still, some doctors are beginning to accept that there is more to healing than popping a pill or giving a shot.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Use a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) doctor. Some doctors have come to understand that complementary medicine practices such as massage offer benefits to their patients. Often these doctors will work closely with a massage therapist, even hiring or contracting massage therapists in his or her own office.

  2. 2

    See a chiropractor. Massage therapists often work closely with chiropractors, offering soft-tissue therapy to complement the chiropractor's work on the bony parts of the body. Most chiropractors will either have a massage therapist in the office or offer some sort of limited massage therapy services themselves.

  3. 3

    Use hospitals which offer massage to patients. Increasingly, hospitals are offering massage therapy to patients as part of the regular treatment regimen. This is especially true in labour and delivery wards, where expectant mothers can benefit from a massage during labour. Benefits of medical massage in hospitals include reduced need for massage, lower blood pressure and quicker discharge.

  4. 4

    Seek out Integrative Medicine practices. These are offices where acupuncture, massage therapy and holistic medicine are practised alongside the more common allopathic (or drug-based) medicine. Here, each of the healing arts are represented and combined to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual patient.

  5. 5

    Convince your family doctor to consider massage. This may be the most difficult route, as typically doctors overlook massage as simply a luxury and prefer to rely on their own allopathic methods. To be successful, you will want to work with a massage therapist to gather evidence demonstrating the efficacy of massage as a treatment for your condition. You will need a treatment plan along with consultations between the massage therapist and your doctor. Justify the expense to your insurance company, which more than likely will not cover massage without a doctor's referral.

Tips and warnings

  • Always seek out licensed massage professionals. Ask for credentials and evidence of specialised training if you are seeking treatment for a specific condition.
  • Do your research on any integrative medicine office: How long has it been in business? Are all of the practitioners employed there board-certified and licensed?
  • Ask your friends and family about their experiences at an office you are considering. Their insight will help you make an informed decision.
  • Make sure you take notes of any meetings and consultations you have. Save those notes along with any bills you receive in a folder, ready to present to your insurance company when they ask for it.
  • Never just pick a business out of the phone book.
  • Always check references and ask your friends for a referral.

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