• Dr. Eric Carlsen

The Difference Between a Spa Massage and a Medical Massage


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After all, a massage is a massage, right? These types of treatment each have a unique purpose. Keep reading to learn which one is right for you!


The Goal of the Massages

A clinical massage usually has a defined purpose in mind: to relieve pain or tension on a specific part of the body. You may have been referred by a physician, and your insurance may even be covering all or some of your visits. With medical treatment, the intention is to improve a specific ailment or condition. However, in a spa setting, there is no clear end goal in mind. Oftentimes, the reason for a spa treatment is more general. The therapist seeks to relax and destress the patient, rather than to heal them.


Different Techniques for Different Circumstances

You may be seeking out massage treatment to relieve muscle pain or tension, or just to relax and unload some stress. However, you do not want to mistakenly pursue the wrong course of treatment.


Patients often seek out medical therapy for a specific injury or pain. Naturally, in a medical setting, you will experience more targeted techniques, such as Myofascial Release or Trigger Point Therapy. The therapist will approach the treatment with your specific needs in mind, resulting in more individualized treatment. If you have specific pain or dysfunction that you wish to address, then you should consider seeking out medical help, rather than a spa treatment.


During a spa visit, you’ll likely receive more basic therapy that is focused on relaxation. Although spa therapists have been trained in the general art of massage, they may not have the same level of expertise as a physical therapist. Our therapist has received additional training in the form of continuing education courses and certifications, which allow them to provide advanced care and treatment styles.


The Results

While a spa massage may successfully relax you or temporarily relieve some stress, a medical massage will produce tangible results. Medical massage therapy treatment is planned out with a specific goal in mind, and your massage will factor into a larger treatment plan that is based around your health needs and goals.


Credit: Physical Therapy First

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