What Is Medical Massage?

A lot of people are confused by the difference between medical massage and therapeutic massage. This is an easy thing to mix up, because on the surface of things, they both seem fairly similar.

Here in Stony Plain, Canada there are both types of massage therapy and medical massage practices to choose from.

But if you have a sports injury or suffer from a serious medical issue, then we would advise that you seek out the services of a qualified medical massage professional.


Medical massage can help with a range of issues, including, but not limited to;

Carpal tunnel syndrome


Compressed nerves





Back pain and injury

Sports injuries


Anxiety and depression

This list is not exhaustive, there may be other health conditions which a medical massage therapist can help with. If you are in doubt as to whether your specific condition could be helped, have a chat to one of the many therapists in Stony Plain who offer it.


Medical massage works by treating soft tissue injuries.

Research has shown that 80% or more pain comes from a soft tissue injury. It has also shown that massage therapy helps people who are suffering from these conditions of the musculoskeletal system.

In fact, pain and trouble occurring from the musculoskeletal system accounts for more cases of disability in working age Americans, than any other cause. A gigantic hundred and sixteen million people in the United States suffer with some type of chronic pain. This costs around $635 billion to treat and also accounts for massive amounts of lost earnings.

So, it is of considerable interest to everyone – doctors, patients and the government, if medical massage can help alleviate this pain and immobility.


The origins of medical massage come from Russia.  Although some of the practitioners came from the United States, the research and therapies were more well known in other countries.

In the start of the twentieth century, the United States and Russia diverged in their development of medical treatment.

The United States favored more of a pharmaceutical route, whilst Russia continued to practice and teach medical massage to their physicians in medical school. Massage was still seen as a valid way of treating a wide range of conditions, unlike in the States, where pharmaceuticals were being touted as the way.

For many years in the United States, massage therapy has only been used as a spa treatment, for relaxation purposes.

This, whilst relaxing and pleasant, does not have any really significant impact on serious medical conditions.

However, things are now beginning to change, and medical massage is gaining traction.


Therapeutic massage is generally based on the principle of Swedish massage. These tend to be longer treatments, which are relaxing, but do not treat a specific malady.

Although a therapeutic massage for twenty five minutes may feel nice and temporarily ease your pain, it unfortunately does not last very long.

By contrast, a medical massage is shorter and more concentrated.

Unlike a Swedish or therapeutic massage, it will not extend out to the whole body, but tend to focus on the specific area where the pain or damage is.

Also, the practitioners of medical massage are far more educated than are massage therapists. They have a greater knowledge of anatomy and of medical conditions requiring help.

The aim of medical massage is to ease up the tension in the muscle and affected soft tissue and to try and help to repair it.

Once it has done this, the body can help take care of the tissues, with its own repair processes.