Providing thought-provoking leadership, workplace and community insights.

Thinking About Therapeutic Massage?

  • Published
  • 21 December 2022
  • Category
  • General

Post by Samantha Lemaster, Industrial Injury Prevention Specialist

Therapeutic massage, the mobilization of soft tissue to return the body to normal functioning, may be recommended when an employee has work-related physical discomfort, is recovering from an injury, or wants to take preventive steps to stay fit and flexible.

Therapeutic massages for work-related musculoskeletal disorders and other physical complaints can help shorten recovery time.

Types of therapeutic massages include neuromuscular, myofascial, trigger point and sports. Reasons for obtaining a therapeutic massage vary depending on the circumstances. For example, it may be recommended to help:

  • Relieve muscle aches, joint or jaw pain and headaches
  • Reduce stress-related tension and anxiety
  • Improve range of motion in affected joints
  • Correct alignment after prolonged sitting or awkward postures
  • Provide better-quality sleep for improved safety and productivity
  • Lower blood pressure and stimulate better circulation

It’s advisable to consult with a professional, such as a WorkCare industrial injury prevention specialist with training in sports medicine and ergonomics or other qualified provider, to determine which type of therapeutic massage and local practitioner would be most likely to produce the best results.

Insurance Coverage

For both employers and their employees, it’s important to understand insurance coverage options when considering massage therapy as an option. States and insurers vary in their approach. Work-related and non-occupational conditions may qualify for full or partial coverage, or they may not be covered at all.

Massage therapy for work-related physical complaints is covered under workers’ compensation insurance plans in some, but not all, jurisdictions. Typically, an insurance claims adjuster or department will determine whether massage therapy is medically necessary based on the diagnosis. In such cases, a prescription or referral from the diagnosing physician or other qualified provider is required. A case manager may be assigned to oversee care of the injured employee.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, some, but not all, personal health insurance plans cover massage therapy. Some insurers require “medical massage” to be performed by a physical therapist, occupational therapist or chiropractor to qualify for coverage. In addition, certain current procedural terminology (CPT) codes may apply. Commonly used ones include massage therapy, manual therapy, neuromuscular re-reduction, hot/cold packs and therapeutic exercise.

When contacting a personal insurance plan provider about coverage, here are some questions to ask:

  1. Which types of massage qualify for coverage?
  2. What are the conditions that qualify for reimbursement?
  3. Is there a deductible or any other out-of-pocket expense?
  4. Is there a maximum payable per-policy, per-year/term clause?
  5. Is there a maximum reimbursement per visit?
  6. Is there a time limit per body region?
  7. Is there a body region limit? (For example, if the right forearm is injured can therapeutic techniques only be applied on that arm?)
  8. Are there specific therapists who must provide treatment in order to be covered?

Learn more about WorkCare’s Industrial Injury Prevention Program and how our specialists help protect and promote employee health through onsite and virtual engagements, email us at

Samantha Lemaster, MBA, LAT, ATC, CEAS, is a WorkCare Industrial Injury Prevention Specialist based in Lenexa, Kansas.