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Massage Therapy


Massage therapy is a treatment  primarily using hands in which the soft tissues of the body are kneaded, rubbed, tapped, and stroked.

Massage promotes muscle relaxation, which contributes to physical and emotional well-being. Research indicates that massage can help to relieve the perception of pain, reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and improve mood. According to some leading cancer centers that offer it, massage for people with cancer can help with nausea, swelling, sleeplessness, anxiety, pain, neuropathy and mobility-reducing scar tissue. It may also help with fatigue. 

There are different types of massage. The most common are Swedish Massage and Deep Muscle Massage (also known as Deep Tissue Massage).

  • Swedish Massage uses long, flowing strokes with kneading or tapping of specific muscles to improve circulation and release tightness. 
  • Deep Muscle Massage focuses on the muscles below the surface. It is not uncommon for receivers of deep tissue massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. (Deep Muscle Massage is not the same as "deep pressure" massage which is performed with sustained, strong pressure throughout an entire full-body session).

Massage therapy should only be performed by a certified therapist.

Before hiring a masseur or masseuse, 

  • Ask what kind of massage the person gives. If you are not familiar with the type, ask what it means. The person should also be able to explain why this type is better for your particular situation than other kinds of massage.
  • Check the person's qualifications. For instance:
    • Does the person have a license if required by your state? The majority of states require licensing. To find out about the law in your state and for contact information to the governing body which can let you know if a particular person is licensed, see: offsite link 
    • Is the therapist a member of the National Certification Board For Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (see below)?  To become nationally certified, a practitioner must demonstrate mastery of core skills and knowledge, pass an NCBTMB standardized exam, uphold the organization's standards and code of ethics, and take part in continued education.
  • Check with both your specialist and your primary care doctor to be sure the type of massage in which you are interested does not interfere with treatment or your condition. In any event, to provide best care, your doctor needs to know about all complementary methods you are using. (To learn more about complementary treatments, click here.)
  • If you have health insurance, check to find out if massage therapy is covered. It may be in certain instances.  Traditional Mediare does not cover massage therapy, although you may receive it as part of physical therapy., which is covered by Medicare.  Medicare Advantage plans may offer this service.
  • If you have cancer, look for a therapist who specializes in treating former and current cancer patients. Although there is no natoinal certification for oncology massage, schools can certifiy graduates. To locate a quaulified oncology massage therapist in your area, consider visiting the website of the Society for Oncology Massage ( offsite link).  Click on "Massage Therapists". Scroll down to "Find a Therapist" section.  BEFORE SEEING A MASSAGE THERAPIST (i) check with your oncologist to be sure it is okay. When you see the massage therapist, tell him or her about your condition and all health issues you have.

You can locate a massage therapist through the National Certification Board For Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork offsite link. Click on "Find A Massage Therapist". Tel.: 800.296.0664 or 703.610.9015.  


  • If you have any muscular or skeletal problems, be sure to tell the massage therapist so there is no harm to the affected area.
  • If money is an issue, you will pay less for massages if you go to a beauty or massage school where people are getting supervised hands-on experience for certification.

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