This is the second in a mini series of two articles comparing:
1. the regulation of massage therapists, osteopaths and physiotherapists
2. the training and approach of massage therapists, osteopaths and physiotherapists
They arise from a recent panel discussion with an osteopath and a physiotherapist, in which degree level massage therapy students asked questions about our respective training and approaches to treating clients. What struck me were the similarities although there are certain differences. Here are some of them:
Similarities between osteopath, physio and massage training
• all are trained in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics
• all are trained in the workings of the nervous system, muscular and skeletal systems, cardiovascular and respiratory systems
• all can accept referrals from medical doctors or self-referrals from patients and clients.
Differences between osteopath, physio and massage training
• only osteopaths can diagnose medical conditions
• osteopaths have compulsory training in pharmacology (the use and effect of drugs)
• only physios have compulsory training in the use of electro-magnetic equipment
• only advanced massage therapists are trained in the treatment of certain medical conditions.
Approaches in osteopathy, physiotherapy and massage therapy
• osteo means bone, so public perception is that osteopaths deal only with bone structure. While only osteopaths are trained in certain (sometimes controversial) techniques such as high velocity thrusts, they do also work on the soft tissues of the body
• physiotherapists are often associated with NHS rehabilitation and care of the elderly, but they do also work in a variety of settings including private practice, hospital intensive care and mental health services
• massage therapists are often associated with relaxation and health spas but, while massage is known for its relaxing effect, like physios and osteopaths, clinical massage therapists usually work with clients with injuries or chronic pain.
While we may differ on the importance we give to the psychological, cultural and social factors which
influence our clients, all three professions agree that pain-free human movement is central to the health of an individual.