Physiotherapy and massage (or massage therapy) are sometimes considered quite similar to many, related, and oftentimes many are quite unsure of the difference.
The below excerpt was taken from the Rmtbc.ca website.
“The practice of massage therapy is the assessment of soft tissue and joints of the body for the treatment and prevention of dysfunction, injury, pain and physical disorders. Registered Massage Therapists undergo extensive training in the treatment and prevention of injury, pain and physical disorders through the manual manipulation of structures of the body such as ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, muscles, blood vessels, organs and other soft tissues.”
Now while both Physiotherapists and practitioners of massage (Registered massage therapists here in Canada) are very different in terms of their scope of practice, they do function a bit differently.
A General practitioner (doctor) will often refer a patient with musculoskeletal pain to a physiotherapist who may decide to use massage as a part of their treatment of a problem that a patient comes in with. Often a physiotherapist may also then recommend a client have concurrent treatment with a massage therapist as well.
Oftentimes, a physiotherapist will choose to use massage as a treatment to reduce pain, and thereby, improve and create an environment to allow for restoration of function.
In my personal opinion, I think massage fits in as a very good complementary treatment for many musculoskeletal conditions, but typically, a thorough treatment plan may further warrant other modalities including exercise plans and progressions, education regarding specific diagnoses and management. It may be my go-to form of treatment and manual therapy for the first session or two, but it’s crucial as a physiotherapist to ensure a holistic and evidence-guided approach to therapy which may dictate more than manual therapy in many situations.
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