Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2020

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education MASSAGE THERAPY AS HEALTH CARE Massage therapy will never replace opioids, and anyone who tells you differently doesn't know much about either. In acute pain, there isn't much that can rival the pain relief provided by opioids, but opioids are not a long-term solution for chronic pain. More than 50 million Americans live with chronic pain. 1 These people could be better served by something other than opioids, and that could be good news for massage. ARE WE TOO "ALL OVER THE BOARD?" The spotlight 2 that has been shone on opioid misuse has more individuals 3 and more organizations, like the American Medical Association (A MA) 4 and The Joint Commission, 5 thinking about massage therapy as a long-term solution to chronic pain. Among the first of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declarations in their Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (2016) is that "[n]onpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain." 6 The massage and bodywork field sees snippets of news like this, and our Facebook-driven, too-busy-to-read-a-whole- article, myth-based lore about massage as a long overlooked panacea supports our illusion that our time has finally come. We put our hands and our anti-drug, anti-big medicine opinions out there and expect them to show us the money. Yes, the big movers and shakers, stakeholders, and levers (as they are often called) see the benefit of massage therapy, but they really don't know what to think about the people who would provide that therapy. I attend a variety Are MTs Ready to Help Alleviate the Opioid Crisis? By Cal Cates of nonmassage health-care and health- policy conferences in my work, and the leaders at insurance companies tell me they struggle to solve the problem of how to reimburse for massage therapy—mainly because "there is such wide variability in the product." Basically, they're saying, "We can't trust massage therapists to provide a reliable, safe, and effective product." OPPORTUNITY IS KNOCKING. ARE WE READY? If I'm an insurance company or a doctor, and one of my policyholders or patients has an issue like low-back pain, 7 I really want to provide that person with something that works so I can minimize treatment and cost. Massage therapy sounds like 36 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 2 0

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