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Do I need to see a Physio or Massage Therapist?

Here at Central Health Physio we offer so many different services, it can sometimes be difficult to know which health professional you need to see. We are contacted frequency by people wondering if it is Physio or Massage Therapy they would benefit from! There are key differences between the two services which might help you to make that decision as well as some scenarios where you definitely need one discipline more than the other. Read on to find out more!

Physiotherapist treating a patient

What are the key differences between physio or massage?

An initial Physiotherapy appointment involves a thorough assessment followed by a ‘working’ or ‘differential diagnosis’ and then treatment.

During your initial physiotherapy appointment, the physio will first sit down with you and take a  thorough history of your condition. This includes how and when your pain started and information about any treatment you may have had for it already. They will want to know in detail about the exact symptoms you are experiencing. Your past medial history, what you do for a living, your usual levels of exercise and most importantly discuss what physiotherapy can help you to achieve.

All of this important information is required in order to provide a working diagnosis for your symptoms. From here, you would then be examined physically. This may include you performing different movements. The physiotherapist having a feel of your joints and muscles. Assessing your strength in different muscles and/or looking at specifics like your running style.

Once this has been completed the Physiotherapist would be able to explain your working diagnosis to you and the management plan going forwards.

This plan will always include exercises and advice. This can be for strengthening or stretches. Often this is supplemented by hands on treatment (including massage or joint manipulations). It may also occasionally include modalities like shockwave, Taping, Acupuncture, running re-education and a whole host of other things!

It could be however, that your problem is not Physiotherapy appropriate and then you would be referred onwards to the necessary health professional. This could be your GP, for further investigations (like x-rays or MRI scans) or a specialist like an Orthopaedic (bone) doctor or Rheumatologist.

If it is something which can be helped by Physiotherapy, in most cases you will likely require a follow up session to provide further treatment. This will always include advice on correcting, adapting and progressing your exercises and anything else to help you achieve your goals.

How does Massage differ to physio?

Massage Therapy does not involve any detailed assessment or diagnosis.

The time spent during a massage appointment is purely hands on. With the massage therapist working into your areas of tightness to help calm and soothe, or stimulate and refresh the tissues. They will initially enquire about what area of the body you would like to focus on. It might be you have recently taken part in a running race, cycle or other sporting event that has left you feeling tight and stiff in your lower back and legs in the days following.

It might be that you work for a living in a desk based role which has contributed to some upper back, neck and shoulder tightness. You may want a whole body massage to address all areas and help with relaxation! It’s important to tell your massage therapist how much pressure you would prefer, as they can vary their techniques based on your preferences.

A person's back being massaged

Physio or massage?

When you definitely need to see a Physiotherapist:

– If you have had a specific injury leading to pain in the area or are worried you have sustained a more serious injury and you would like further assessment regarding specific diagnosis and then advice on management and treatment options
– If you have had massages before for the same problem and they have not helped and in particular if your pain is not improving
– If you have seen another health professional who has referred you to, or advised you to see a Physiotherapist

When you definitely need to see a Massage Therapist:

– If you have known episodic periods of pain for example neck or lower back pain and you know massage has helped before to manage your symptoms
– If a physiotherapist has recommended Massage to help facilitate the recovery of your problem
– If you have no pain symptoms but feel you would benefit from hands on treatment to help muscles to relax and improve circulation

Here at Central Health Physiotherapy we have some of the best Physiotherapists in town. Our Massage Therapy team are fantastic, working across a range of sites and therefore can offer a range of different appointment times to suit your needs.

Give us a call on 020 7404 6343 if you would like to discuss whether you need a Physiotherapy or Massage Therapy appointment.

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