Masseuse vs. Massage Therapist: What’s the Difference?

August 17, 2022

That ache in your back is not going away, and it’s time to let a professional have at it. Time to call a masseuse…or is it “massage therapist”? Is there even a difference?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident or while playing sports, you want to find the best treatment available to address your underlying condition and provide real healing, not just “symptom relief.”

While massage can be a helpful tool in your recovery, it’s important to find the right kind of massage performed by the right person.

In this article, we’ll look at the difference between a masseuse vs. massage therapist as well as the many types of massage available to you.

Masseuse vs. Massage Therapist

The term masseuse is a French word that refers to a female who practices massage. (Males in the industry were known as masseurs.) However, due to certain unsavory connotations (as well as the need for more gender neutral terminology), both male and female massage practitioners go by the term “massage therapist”.

To earn the title, massage therapists have to study their craft and obtain state licensing. From there, they can practice in spas, medical centers, offices, and everywhere in between. A licensed massage therapist must complete 500 hours of total course work, but less than half of that is spent studying massage itself. The majority of a massage therapy course will include education on subjects such as anatomy, business, Florida laws, and ethics.

Even after they are licensed, massage therapists must take continuing education courses in order to renew their licenses every two years.

massage therapist working on a patient


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Types of Massage Therapy

There are hundreds of different types of massage techniques, each requiring different education and practice.

Popular ones include, but are not limited to:

  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Prenatal Massage
  • Hot Stone
  • Acupressure
  • Shiatsu
  • Reflexology
  • Sports

There's a big difference between spa massage and a medical massage.

Massage therapists typically choose which modality, or type, they’d like to specialize in, with additional modalities requiring extra education. For example, a therapist might become certified in Swedish massage, then take a continuing education course to learn Shiatsu or Hot Stone massage a few years later.

Each type of massage is used for a different purpose and they are far from interchangeable.


How Is Medical Massage Therapy Different?

If you’re looking to massage to treat and heal a medical condition, you won’t find it at a spa.

Spa massages are only designed with one thing in mind: increased relaxation. They may be helpful for stress relief or minor aches and pains, but won’t address serious underlying conditions like car accident injuries.

A medical massage, on the other hand, is specifically catered to your body’s unique needs and is designed to relieve pain, increase blood flow to soft tissue, facilitate healing. Medical massage is typically used in conjunction with other forms of therapy, such as chiropractic adjustments or physical therapy

And, where a spa massage is a one-time visit, you will likely have multiple medical massages over a period of several months (or more) until your condition has healed. Your treatment will also be supervised by a doctor with access to your medical records, x-rays, and other details about your injury.

massage therapist working on patient's back

The Right Massage Matters

While there’s technically no difference between a masseuse vs. massage therapist, there is a difference in the type of massage therapist you visit.

Not every therapist is trained in every type of massage, and going to a spa to get relief from your sports injury would be a waste of time and money.

Make sure your massage therapist is certified in medical massage therapy and has real-life clinical experience.


Get Relief Today

Massage is more than just a relaxing activity; it can be an effective method to treat the underlying conditions behind your pain symptoms, but only when done correctly and sometimes in conjunction with chiropractic adjustments. Only massage therapists trained and certified in medical massage therapy should be trusted with your medical needs.

At Oviedo Chiropractic, we have four Licensed Massage Therapists on staff who are knowledgeable and passionate about providing lasting pain relief through massage.

Our medical massage therapy works in conjunction with the latest chiropractic care techniques and is overseen by Dr. Justin Cough.

Ready to get some relief? Schedule your appointment with us today in our Oviedo, FL office.

Justin Cough

Dr. Justin Cough, D.C.

Dr. Cough graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, FL after receiving his BS in Education from SUNY Oswego. Before becoming a chiropractor, he coached many middle and high school sports teams including football, lacrosse, basketball, and soccer. He is passionate about focusing on our bodies' natural healing mechanisms and helping his patients enjoy the utmost sustainability in their lives.

For some, chiropractic offers relief from pain. For others, it's about feeling and looking good. Call today and see what chiropractic can do for you!

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Oviedo Chiropractic

2871 Clayton Crossing Way Suite 1073
Oviedo, FL 32765
(407) 542-1614
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