Do Massages Count As Medical Expense?

In this article, we will explore the question of whether massages count as a medical expense. We will provide you with insights and information to help you understand how massages are viewed in terms of medical deductions. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of whether you can include massages as part of your medical expenses. As a blog run by massage therapists and enthusiasts, we aim to help you navigate this topic and provide you with helpful advice.

What is considered a medical expense?

Understanding medical expenses

Medical expenses refer to the costs incurred for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases or injuries. These expenses can include a wide range of healthcare services, prescription medications, medical equipment, and even transportation costs to and from medical appointments.

When it comes to determining whether a specific expense qualifies as a medical expense, it is essential to understand the guidelines and criteria set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States. The IRS provides specific rules and regulations regarding what can be considered a deductible medical expense for tax purposes.

Qualified medical expenses

According to the IRS, qualified medical expenses are expenses that are primarily for the prevention or alleviation of a physical or mental defect or illness. These expenses may include payments for doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychologists, and other medical practitioners.

Qualified medical expenses also include the costs of medical services, laboratory fees, X-ray fees, prescription medications, and durable medical equipment. Additionally, expenses for transportation to obtain medical care or treatment can also be considered as qualified medical expenses.

What are massages?

Definition of massages

Massages, also widely known as massage therapy, are a form of manual manipulation of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues of the body. The primary goal of massages is to promote relaxation, relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and enhance overall well-being.

Massages can be performed by licensed massage therapists using various techniques such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, and many others. These techniques differ in pressure, intensity, and focus on specific areas of the body.

Types of massages

There are numerous types of massages available that cater to different needs and preferences. Some common types of massages include:

  • Swedish massage: This is the most common form of massage that involves long, gliding strokes, kneading, and circular motions to help relax the body and mind.

  • Deep tissue massage: This type of massage targets the deep layers of muscles and connective tissues to release chronic muscle tension and relieve pain.

  • Sports massage: Sports massages are specifically designed to help athletes recover from injuries, prevent injuries, and improve overall athletic performance.

  • Hot stone massage: Hot stone massages use smooth, heated stones placed on specific parts of the body to relax muscles, improve blood flow, and promote deep relaxation.

Regardless of the type of massage, the effects can vary from person to person. Some individuals may find massages extremely beneficial for their physical and mental well-being, while others may not experience significant or noticeable effects.

Do Massages Count As Medical Expense?

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Different contexts of massages

Relaxation massages

One significant aspect of massages is their ability to induce relaxation. Many individuals seek massages primarily for their relaxation effects. Relaxation massages often involve slower and gentler techniques that focus on relieving stress, reducing anxiety, and promoting overall relaxation.

During a relaxation massage, the therapist’s goal is to create a peaceful and tranquil environment. Soft lighting, calming music, and aromatic scents are often used to enhance the overall experience. This type of massage can be a great way to unwind, destress, and enjoy some self-care time.

Therapeutic massages

On the other hand, therapeutic massages focus on treating specific conditions or injuries. These massages are typically performed with a specific goal in mind, such as relieving pain, improving range of motion, or addressing muscle imbalances.

Therapeutic massages may involve applying deeper pressure, targeting specific trigger points, or using specialized techniques to address the underlying issues. Individuals who require therapeutic massages often have specific health concerns or ailments that can benefit from targeted treatments.

Medical necessity and massages

When are massages medically necessary?

Massages can be considered medically necessary in certain situations. In general, massages are deemed medically necessary when they are prescribed by a healthcare professional as part of a treatment plan to address a specific medical condition or injury.

Medical necessity for massages can vary depending on the individual’s needs and the recommendation of their healthcare provider. Common medical conditions that may require medically necessary massages include:

  • Chronic pain: Individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia or arthritis, may benefit from regular massages to help alleviate pain and improve mobility.

  • Muscle injuries: Individuals recovering from muscle strains, sprains, or other musculoskeletal injuries may require massages as part of their rehabilitation process to aid in healing and regain normal function.

  • Post-surgical recovery: In some cases, massages may be prescribed after surgical procedures, such as joint replacements, to reduce swelling, manage pain, and promote healing.

It is important to note that while massages can provide relief and support in certain medical situations, they may not be the sole or primary treatment for every condition. As always, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriateness of massages for your specific needs.

Conditions that may require medical massages

Some specific conditions that may benefit from medically necessary massages include:

  • Fibromyalgia: This chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain can be alleviated to some extent through regular massages.

  • Migraines and tension headaches: Massages targeting the neck, shoulders, and head area can help reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines and tension headaches.

  • Sciatica: Massage therapy that focuses on releasing tension in the gluteal and lower back muscles can provide relief from sciatic nerve pain.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: Massages that target the forearms, wrists, and hands can help reduce pain and improve circulation in individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Do Massages Count As Medical Expense?

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Massages as a medical expense

Can massages be considered as medical expenses?

Whether massages can be considered as medical expenses depends on various factors. Generally, massages that are prescribed by a healthcare provider to address a specific medical condition or injury have the potential to be considered as a deductible medical expense.

However, it is crucial to understand that not all massages qualify as medical expenses. In most cases, massages received for general relaxation purposes, stress reduction, or simple personal enjoyment are not eligible for tax deductions as medical expenses.

Criteria for massage expenses to be deductible

To determine whether your massage expenses can be considered as deductible medical expenses, certain criteria must be met:

  1. Medical necessity: The massages must be deemed medically necessary by a healthcare provider. This can be demonstrated by a physician’s prescription or referral specifying the need for massage as part of a treatment plan.

  2. Diagnosis and documentation: The medical condition for which the massage is prescribed must be documented and diagnosed by a qualified healthcare professional.

  3. Licensed practitioner: The massage therapy must be performed by a licensed massage therapist or another qualified healthcare professional recognized by the state.

  4. Cost reasonableness: The cost of the massages must be reasonable and consistent with what others in the same geographical area charge for similar services.

It is important to keep in mind that the IRS may require additional documentation and proof of medical necessity when claiming massage expenses as medical deductions. Consulting with a tax advisor or accountant can provide further guidance on the specific requirements in your jurisdiction.

Tax deductions for massages

IRS rules on medical expenses

The IRS allows taxpayers to deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed a certain percentage of their adjusted gross income (AGI). As of [insert current tax year], the threshold for medical expense deductions is 7.5% of the taxpayer’s AGI for most individuals.

It is important to note that the deduction for medical expenses is an itemized deduction and can only be claimed if you choose to itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. Additionally, the IRS requires documentation and proof of qualified medical expenses to support any claimed deductions.

Requirements for deducting massage expenses

To deduct massage expenses as medical expenses on your tax return, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Qualified medical expense: The massages must be considered qualified medical expenses as defined by the IRS guidelines.

  2. Itemized deduction: You must choose to itemize your deductions on your tax return instead of taking the standard deduction.

  3. Income threshold: Your total qualified medical expenses must exceed 7.5% of your AGI for most individuals or the threshold set for the relevant tax year.

  4. Proper documentation: You must maintain accurate records and receipts of the massage expenses, including information about their medical necessity and the healthcare provider’s prescription or referral.

It is vital to consult with a tax professional or accountant to understand the specific rules and requirements related to deducting massage expenses as medical expenses, as tax laws can change periodically.

Do Massages Count As Medical Expense?

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Insurance coverage for massages

Health insurance policies and coverage

While the IRS guidelines determine the tax deductibility of massage expenses, health insurance policies may offer coverage for medically necessary massages. The coverage and reimbursement for massages vary greatly depending on the insurance provider and the specific policy.

It is essential to review your health insurance policy or contact your insurance provider directly to understand the extent and limitations of massage therapy coverage. Some insurance plans may impose restrictions on the frequency and duration of coverage or require pre-authorization for massage therapy services.

Reimbursement for medically necessary massages

To seek reimbursement for medically necessary massages from your insurance provider, the following steps are generally required:

  1. Consultation with a healthcare provider: Your primary care physician or a relevant specialist must evaluate your medical condition and determine if massage therapy is a necessary part of your treatment plan.

  2. Obtain a prescription or referral: The healthcare provider must provide a written prescription or referral for massage therapy, specifying the medical necessity and the recommended frequency and duration of treatment.

  3. Submit documentation and claims: You will typically need to submit the prescription or referral, along with any other required documentation, to your insurance provider. This may include the massage therapist’s credentials, treatment notes, and receipts for the services provided.

  4. Review coverage and reimbursement policy: Your insurance provider will assess the documentation and determine the extent of massage therapy coverage under your specific policy. Reimbursement may vary depending on deductibles, co-payments, and any applicable limits or restrictions.

It is important to consult your insurance provider directly to understand the specific procedures, requirements, and potential out-of-pocket costs associated with seeking reimbursement for medically necessary massages.

Alternative therapies and medical expenses

Status of alternative therapies

In recent years, alternative therapies have gained recognition and acceptance as valid forms of healthcare. These therapies often provide holistic and complementary approaches to traditional medical treatments.

However, the status of alternative therapies, including massages, as deductible medical expenses varies. While some insurance providers and healthcare plans may cover certain alternative therapies, others may not recognize them as eligible for reimbursement or tax deductions.

Inclusion of massages in alternative therapies

Given their potential therapeutic benefits and their increasing popularity, massages are often included in the realm of alternative therapies. If massages are prescribed by a healthcare professional as part of an alternative therapy treatment plan, they may have a higher likelihood of being deemed medically necessary and qualifying as medical expenses.

Individuals interested in utilizing massages as part of alternative therapies should consult with their healthcare provider and insurance provider to determine the coverage and reimbursement options available to them.

Do Massages Count As Medical Expense?

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Documentation and proof

Records required for massage deductions

To support your claim for massage expenses as medical deductions, it is crucial to maintain accurate records and documentation. The following records may be required:

  1. Prescriptions or referrals: Obtain written documentation from a healthcare provider, such as a physician’s prescription or referral, specifying the medical necessity of massages.

  2. Treatments notes and documentation: Keep records of each massage session, including details about the duration of the session, the techniques used, and any specific areas of focus. These treatment notes should be provided by the licensed massage therapist.

  3. Receipts and payment records: Retain receipts and payment records for the massage services received, showcasing the cost of the sessions and the name and credentials of the massage therapist.

Obtaining proper documentation and receipts

When seeking massages for medical purposes, it is essential to communicate your intentions clearly to the massage therapist. Inform them that you are seeking massages as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a healthcare provider and request proper documentation of each session.

Ensure that the massage therapist provides you with detailed treatment notes, a receipt for the service rendered, and their professional credentials. These records will serve as vital documentation when claiming massage expenses as medical deductions or seeking reimbursement from your insurance provider.


In conclusion, massages can potentially count as medical expenses if they are deemed medically necessary and meet the criteria set by the IRS. Qualified medical expenses primarily aim to prevent or alleviate physical or mental defects or illnesses. However, not all massages qualify as medical expenses, and it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional and/or tax advisor to determine the eligibility of massage expenses for tax deductions or insurance reimbursement.

Massages can provide numerous benefits, ranging from relaxation and stress reduction to therapeutic relief for specific health conditions. Whether you enjoy massages for their feel-good effects or seek them to address specific ailments, understanding their context as both a form of self-care and potential medical treatment is essential.

It is always recommended to consult with a licensed massage therapist, healthcare provider, or tax professional for personalized advice and guidance based on your individual circumstances. Remember, prioritizing your health and well-being is vital, and massages can play a valuable role in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Do Massages Count As Medical Expense?

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