Are physio’s just glorified massage therapists?

This question came to mind again today when a client of mine pointed out that in her opinion, and many others, physio was the same as massage treatment....at least when seeking private treatment.

This comment got me thinking about public perceptions and expectations when attending a physiotherapist for treatment for a pain condition.

I had to gently explain that we learn more than just massage during our minimum of four years of undergraduate education at university. Furthermore, massage therapy, while useful for some, usually only results in short term pain relief. That said, meeting expectations and respecting patient preferences is all part of best practice.

massageI went on to explain that for best results, an integrated physiotherapy approach is most effective. An integrated approach might include ‘hands-on’ or ‘manual therapy’ (as we would refer to massage and other mobilisation techniques), but also a range of other techniques.

As physiotherapists at Mount Merrion Physiotherapy & Health, in addition to manual therapy, we offer our clients a range of physiotherapy treatment techniques which include:

  • Pain management counselling with an emphasis on relevant psychosocial factors such as stress management.
  • Therapeutic exercise for pain management, to improve mobility, strength and function of the affected area of the body.
  • Electrotherapy techniques such as therapeutic ultrasound and laser therapy for pain management and to promote tissue healing and repair.
  • Medical acupuncture (including dry needling) for pain management, to deactivate myofascial trigger points and normalise muscle tone.
  • Prescription shoe orthotics for lower limb biomechanical correction, often required when treating running injuries, for example.

Which techniques we use, when and how, are determined according to assessment findings, the physio’s clinical experience and patient preference.

Here at the clinic, we achieve great results using an integrated physiotherapy approach. The challenge sometimes can be in explaining why we want to do more than just give our patients a massage!

By Simon.

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