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When To Choose Massage Therapy As Primary Health Care Modality

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When To Choose Massage Therapy As Primary Health Care Modality

When would someone choose massage therapy as a remedial therapeutic healing modality?
The intent of this article is to provide insights to consumers when choosing a health provider. When is it appropriate to choose massage therapy. My motives are to market my clnic because I am a massage therapist, and partly to be helpful because the public doesn’t know what services massage therapists provide. I also wish to take the burden off physicians, chiropractors, and physiotherapists who are being overtaxed for their services for some treatments which can best be perfomed by massage therapists.

When is it appropriate to go to the massage therapist?

For most muscular and joint aches and pains.
Some doctors don’t think of massage therapy as a healing modality when they have a patient come into their office who may have other more serious symptoms.

Massage therapy has been shown to be beneficial in treating injuries which result from trauma, surgery, or workplace and vehicle accidents. The rehabilitation protocol for restoring full range of motion and strength to muscles and joints is practiced by qualified therapeutic massage therapists. Massage therapists have thorough training in assessment of muscle and joint imbalances and can successfully treat these dysfunctions and restrictions.

Massage therapy has its place in the healing forum. So How to Choose?

There are some healing techniques which physiotherapy performs better and some which massage therapy performs better.
How will you know which treatment is better at the time of rehabilitation? Massage therapy or physiotherapy?
Ask your local professional massage therapist and physiotherapist for a description of their different treatments.Then you can make an informed choice.
How will you know which treatment is for you?
It’s sometimes difficult to decide. So trusting your professionals requries asking some questions!
Sometimes it comes down to training and experience with your particular condition!
Ask your health provider whether they’ve treated this condition before and what the results were.

Why should a consumer choose massage therapy as a healing modality?

Because it is a scientifically proven method of healing. Because it is established fact that massage therapies
are capable of providing relief from pain, relieving the patient of symptoms which either restrict movement
or limit range of motion of a particular extremity or body part. Because massage therapies are capable of restorative and maintenance functions in sustaining wellness. Because massage therapists are capable to treat patients in acute, sub-acute, and chronic stages of injury and healing. Because some massage therapists are trained in various modalities of hydrotherapy treatments which complement massage therapy and can be used integrally.

The health consumer’s choice of healing modality depends on many variables.

The three most important factors which I will focus on are:

1. Time spent between the healer and the patient.

How much time does it take you to tell your health provider about your complete medical history?
Fifteen minutes!
Doctors, chiropractors, physiotheraists, massage therapists; all ask approximately the same questions, but each specialist goes about it with different means yet with the desire to achieve the same goal: to restore the patient to a state of health, balance or equilibrium.
Because of the ways in which doctors and chiropractors are paid, by billing the medical health authorities, contributes to the length of time which they spend with the patient: statistically an average of ten(10) minutes per patient. The massage therapist, on the other hand, is not paid by the provincial health authorities, but usually contracts with their patients for periods of a half-hour or hour appointments. These are either paid in cash or billed to a group insurance plan which covers massage therapies. It’s not that they work by the hour, or for an hourly rate, but the therapist books that time slot with the patient to allow the necessary time for appropriate and adequate assessment and treatments. The patient pays for the therapist’s training and expertise and for their manipulations, mobilizations, and other corrective techniques.

2. Determination of the most appropriate modality of healing for a particular condition, ailment, or pathology.

Another important feature in selecting a healing option is the determination of what type of healer is best suited for a particular type of dysfunction.Because each specialist has their different protocols, each will have a different set of ojbectives and tools with which to work.
a)The doctor examines the body from a systemic approach, examining the skin, circulation, respiration, eye/ear/nose complex, digestion, etc., reduces the symptoms to a limited number of likely pathologies, then prescribes appropriate medications which will help to eliminate pain and relieve symptoms, and hopefully restore systemic homeostasis or equilibrium. ” If the pain persists past a week, come back and see me”, is the common refrain. With a return visit the physician then proceed to perform a more lengthy and detailed examination and testing until a more particular diagnosis is obtained and a more specific prescription of medications can be given.

b)The chiropractor will manipulate the spine or joints to restore neurological functioning by re-aligning vertebrae which were subluxated, and restoring nutritional and circulatory pathways to the body parts being served by those spinal nerve roots. They will assess muscle texture abnormalities before and after manipulations to determine whether the treatments have been effective.

c)The massage therapist will ,like the doctors and chiropractors, take a detailed medical patient history, eliminate possible pathologies which the patient is known to have and claims to not have, performs assessment of joints and muscles to ascertain restrictions; utilizes deep tissue and peripheral joint manipulations as well as active and passive stretches and neural inhibition and stimulation techniques to help restore bilateral symmetry and restore tissue texture normality.

The massage therapist have their place in the medical professional community of healing. Their focus is both systemic and specific. It specializes upon the musculo-skeletal aspect of the patient but not excluding the other aspects which the doctor or chiropractor takes into consideration when assessing the patient. The massage therapist includes the medical pathologies which the patient reports into their patient history. The massage therapist takes into consideration the spinal and neurological dysfunctions which may be reported by the patient when assessing the patient and setting up a treatment protocol. The massage therapist then proceeds to perform a series of visual and palpatory examination of muscles and joints mobilizations and range of motions to discover restrictions and asymmetries, which many times are the causes of the aches or pains and the consequences of hypertonic muscles, restricted joints, or weak muscles having either a muscular or a neurological cause or origin. The massage therapist is capable through a range of techniques to restore normal resting tone and function to the muscles and joints while providing the patient with appropriate stretching and strengthening of muscles which are involved.

3. Cost of treatment or service to consumer

The method of billing and payment determines to a large extent when a consumer will choose their healing modality. The cost to the health consumer of the visit to the doctor is hidden in the provincial tax structure. The health consumer also gets a fixed nunmber of ‘free’ visits to the chiropractor with a ‘topping-up’ fee which chiropractors charge without which they would not be able to operate their clinics profitably. The massage therapist charges between $40.00 and $60.00 for consulation, assessment, and treatments which usually take between a half-hour to an hour, averaging 45 minutes.
This cost is borne by the patient and/or partially subsidized by a personal group insurance plan. Some of these plans such as Blue Cross, or Great West Life, Sun LIfe, Mutual Life, cover from 80%-100% of massage therapy treatments if covered in their particular employee plans.
The big difference in choosing a healing modality comes when one is involved in a motor vehicle accident”MVA”.
In Manitoba only chiropractors and physiotherapists are able to obtain coverage for patients from either Autopac or
Workers Compensation in the event of a workplace injury. Therefore it is cheaper, much cheaper to visit a chiropractor or physiotherapist in these instances.
Therefore most of patients involved in these types of injuries choose the physiotherapy or chiropractic healing modality when in many instances massage and hydrotherapies would be beneficial in assisting healing and shorten the healing time with restrictions to muscles and limited range of motions to joints.


In Manitoba massage therapists may work professionally once they belong to an association and obtain the appropriate licenses and permits which vary between municipalities and urban jurisdictions.

The minimum requirement in rural Manitoba is membership to an association. The three main associations which regulate massage therapists vary as to their requirements for membership. The London County Society of Physiologists and the Massage Therapists of Manitoba both require a 2200 hour course to qualify for their membership. The Association of Massage Therapists and Wholistic Practitioners requires a minimum 1000 hour course to qualify for membership.
The City of Winnipeg recognizes this minimum standard and provides licenses to massage therapists with this level of training.

Any complaints about professional conduct can be reported to the various associations and the discipline which will be enforced varies between associations. At the time of writing of this article there is not a provincial standard for massage therapists and there doesn’t exist the political will at this time to enforce one.

There exists a national body which is attempting to consolidate the various provincial massage associations and the federal government has indicated that there is a desire federally to institute a national standard within the near future to allow for the movement of labour interprovincially. Currently a massage therapist may operate with a 400 hour course in Quebec, a 1000 hour course in Manitoba, and a 3000 hour course in British Colombia.

The standard will probably become the 2200 hour course nationally which approximates a two year full time or three year part-time curriculum.

So how does a health consumer know how to recognize the qualifications of a massage therapist in Manitoba:
Only by asking individual professionals with which association they are affiliated and what length of course have they achieved.

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