The Arkansas Department of Health regulates Massage Therapy for the protection of public welfare in the mission of protecting public health. Massage Therapy is a health care service that treats soft tissues: skin, fascia, and muscles; as well as their dysfunctions for therapeutic purposes of establishing and maintaining good physical condition, comfort, and relief of pain. It is the Massage Therapy Technical Advisory Committee (MTTAC) under the AR Department of Health(ADH) that manages massage therapists.
You can look up a massage therapists license to confirm that they have attended massage school and completed the State Board of Massage requirements for licensing.
How to find a Massage Therapist in Arkansas
When looking for a massage therapist in Arkansas, know that 17-86-101 is the “Massage Therapy Act (PDF) in Arkansas. Massage therapists in Arkansas attend massage school or apprenticeship program and upon completion take an exam to obtain a state massage license. They are subjected to background checks by the Identification Bureau of the Department of Arkansas State Police for a state and federal criminal background check to be conducted by the Identification Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They also make oath that they have not been convicted of, found guilty of, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any offense that would constitute a felony listed under § 17-3-102 or constitute the offense of prostitution, either in this state or another state, and submit a signed authorization to investigate and have information released to the department.
In Arkansas(a) “Massage therapy” means the treatment of soft tissues, which may include skin, fascia, and muscles and their dysfunctions for therapeutic purposes of establishing and maintaining good physical condition, comfort, and relief of pain.
(b) “Massage therapy” is a health care service that includes gliding, kneading, percussion, compression, vibration, friction, nerve strokes, and stretching the tissue.
(c) “Massage therapy” also means to engage in the practice of any of the following procedures:
(1) Massage therapy techniques and procedures either hands-on or with mechanical devices;
(2) Therapeutic application and use of oils, herbal or chemical preparations, lubricants, nonprescription creams, lotions, scrubs, powders, and other spa services;
(3) Therapeutic application of hot or cold packs;
(4) Hydrotherapy techniques, which means the use of water in any form for therapeutic purposes and includes methods of full and partial immersion baths, whirlpools, sponging, sprays, body
shampoos, body scrubs, body wraps, fomentations, compresses, poultices, packs, masks, steam treatments, and sauna treatments;
(5) Heliotherapy, which may include mechanical devices, heat lamps, and other devices with the use of light for therapeutic purposes and may consist of the use of infrared radiation lamps and devices and the various uses of other light that might be approved by the Department;
(6) Electrotherapy, which means the use of electrical devices for therapeutic purposes and may consist of the use of mechanical vibrators, electric stimulation, direct and alternating currents, interferential currents, micro currents, and Russian stimulation; and,
(7) Any hands-on bodywork techniques and procedures rising to the level of the techniques and procedures intended to be regulated under the Massage Therapy Act and not covered under specific licensing laws of other boards.
(d) The following are not included in the scope of massage therapy practice:
(1) Colonic irrigation and other methods of internal hydrotherapy;
(2) Depilation, waxing, extractions, and electrolysis;
(3) Practices involving the use of ultrasound, unless the therapist
can present educational qualifications acceptable to the
Department and a licensed physician prescribes the treatment;or,
(4) Piercing, lancing, or penetrating the skin
Massage therapists in AR must display their massage license where they practice.
17-86-310. Display of license
(a) An official license shall be conspicuously and publicly displayed in the place where the holder engages in the practice of massage therapy or instruction of massage therapy. A massage therapy school license shall be conspicuously displayed in the massage therapy school.
(b) It is unlawful to tamper with or reduce in size an original massage therapy license issued by the Department of Health.
(c) Each license shall provide the correct address of the department.
There are three tiers of licensing of massage therapists in Arkansas: Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Master Massage Therapist (MMT), and Massage Therapy Instructor (MTI)
Breast Massage is allowed but requires that the massage therapist have extra training of 48 hours of CE in lymphatic massage, myofascial massage or oncology massage. Therapeutic massage of the breasts can assist in reducing scar tissue following breast surgery and improving lyphatic flow.
It shall be unlawful for any person in Arkansas to use any of these titles;massage therapist, massage practitioner, myotherapist, massotherapist, massage technologist, masseur, masseuse, therapy technologist, master massage therapist, massage therapy instructor, or any derivation of those titles
or to advertise such titles.
Practicing without a massage therapy license in Arkasas is illegal. The massage therapy law states that (17-86-103. Penalties(PDF))
(a) Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be found guilty of a
misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail
for not more than six (6) months or by a fine not exceeding one thousand five hundred
dollars ($1,500), or by both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.
(b) It shall be the duty of the prosecuting attorney in the county where the violation occurs,
upon request by the Department of Health, to initiate proper legal proceedings in a court
of competent jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
Is this a brothel/sex worker/human trafficking?
Unfortunately, the massage profession has been too often confused with sex workers. Many of the brothels may also be involved in human trafficking but it is up to the law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute these businesses. Knowing some of the signs of sex workers and human trafficking can help when you are looking for a licensed massage therapists. Report suspicious activities to the proper authorities.
For Massage Therapists
You must first register your spa, clinic or salon with the Arkansas Department of Health (PDF) Massage Therapy Section.
17-86-307. Massage therapy clinic and spa
(a) A person shall not establish, maintain, or operate a massage therapy clinic or massage
therapy spa, or both, until the address and telephone number of the office, clinic, or spa have
been supplied in writing to the Department of Health.
(b) If a massage therapy clinic, massage therapy spa, or both moves to a new location or
changes its phone number, the new address or phone number, or both, shall be submitted
immediately to the department in writing before operating the clinic or spa, or both, at the new
(c) The annual inspection fee for each clinic and spa shall not exceed seventy-five dollars
|Massage Therapy Board||4815 W. Markham Street, Slot #8|
Little Rock, AR 72205