Medical massage simply means the therapist is addressing a "medical condition," not just providing relaxation or temporary muscle tension and soreness relief. It is not actually a type of massage. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe massage for your condition, although this is rare. What sets medical massage apart is that there is a specific goal in mind for relief of a problem.
Massage therapists often use the term medical massage for addressing anything from oncology, to car accidents, organ dysfunction, sinus problems, joint dysfunction, sports performance, and injuries. My work focuses on more on disorders in the soft tissues involved in movement and structure and not so much on other health issues like cancer, diabetes, fibromyalgia. However, I do have experience in these kinds of health issues as well.
When you have a persistent injury or postural problem, there are several steps to effective treatment:
The therapist takes a case history: when did this happen, what was going on at the time (or span of time) of the injury, what is happening now, what is happening when you hurt or can't do what you need to do, how much pain or immobility, what other body/emotion issues do you have?
Then tests at the beginning and frequently throughout treatment to know if the treatment is working.
Next selects the appropriate treatment and use other treatments if not working.
Finally, refers out if no treatment works.
My approach towards medical massage is very strategic. After a thorough assessment, I use many different types of bodywork to address more serious issues including:
Orthopedic deep tissue
Neuromuscular therapy (including trigger point therapy, positional release, muscle testing...)
Selecting the appropriate treatment requires a practitioner that both knows how to do assessment and knows different kinds of treatment.
What you, as a massage client, can do to help the process: - Have an idea what you'd like to work on or if it's severe, get a diagnosis and imaging/tests from a doctor. - Ask your therapist if they have experience with your issue and what range of techniques they can apply, or read their bio. - Give a lot of detail about your issue to your therapist at the beginning of the session. - Give a lot of feedback about treatment during the session: the good, the bad, and the little details. - Give feedback at the end. - Notice how you feel in between sessions: what improved, stayed the same, got worse and note what you were doing at the time and tell your therapist next time you come in.