Medical massage therapists provide body work services specifically aimed at treating a medical condition such as chronic pain or tissue inflammation (carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and plantar fasciitis); sports injuries; recovery from surgery, injury or accidents; and even mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. If your physician prescribes massage as treatment for a diagnosed condition, chances are he or she will also refer you to a practitioner. If not, many independent massage therapists can provide treatment.
Massage therapists typically charge by the hour. They may also create custom packages for customers’ needs or for specific medical conditions. The nationwide average hourly rate for medical massage is $50–$75. Massage therapists who are trained to administer additional holistic therapies, such as reflexology and acupressure, acupuncture or craniosacral therapy, typically charge higher rates than the national averages.
Therapists may vary their rates depending on the condition that needs treated—particularly if customers need specialized treatment such as deep-tissue massage, sports massage or myofascial release. Maxine Nguyen, LMT, of Healer Hands Mobile Spa & Studio charges $69 per hour for standard Swedish massage and $85 per hour for deep-tissue massage, trigger point therapy and active isolated stretching. Therapeutic Essentials owner Dawn Spagnolo’s hourly rate is $70. She specializes in treating clients’ chronic pain and works with people who need treatment as part of their recovery from auto and workplace accidents.
Most massage therapists offer 30-, 60- or 90-minute sessions. Medical massage tends to require longer sessions because of the time needed for the therapist to understand each client’s situation and administer the appropriate treatment. Erik Owen of Chronic Pain Relief Through Touch takes the time to understand each client’s needs—and he guarantees his work.
Massage therapists who come to your home or office generally charge more to cover travel time and expenses. Juan Stephens of Zerenity Zone charges $75 an hour for massage services if customers come to his studio and $110 an hour if he goes to them.
In some cases, a massage therapist may be covered under health insurance if the treatment is prescribed by a physician. Sometimes auto insurance covers treatment for auto-related injuries. Laws that govern insurance coverage differ from state to state. Spagnolo of Therapeutic Essentials says massage therapists should inform customers if their services are covered. In Minnesota where she practices, for example, state law requires auto insurers to pay for massage therapy to treat injuries sustained in car accidents.
Many massage therapists offer a discount if customers pay upfront for a certain number of treatment hours.