Massage Therapy vs Physiotherapy – What’s the Difference?

Chronic pain and discomfort in your muscles are unfortunately all too common these days. But the good news is that there exists a variety of treatments that can reduce this pain and muscle tension, and get you feeling like your best healthy self again.

That said, differentiating between the treatments can be tricky. Here, we’ll discuss the difference between massage therapy and physiotherapy so you can determine which one is right for your healing journey.

Understanding the Physiotherapy vs Massage Therapy Difference

The difference between physiotherapy and massage is not in their overall purpose; both are meant to relieve pain and make you feel healthier overall.

Rather, the important physiotherapy and massage therapy differences can be broadly grouped into three categories:

  • What they treat
  • Accreditation
  • Treatment methods

Below, we’ll explore these three categories in more detail so we can better understand the difference between physiotherapy and massage therapy.

Massage Therapy vs Physiotherapy – What They Treat

While both physiotherapy and massage therapy tend to target aching muscles, they differ in what they’re intended to treat.

Massage therapy is typically used for the immediate relaxation of muscles as well as pain alleviation. In some patients, anxiety and depression can be at least somewhat addressed by massage therapists and the calming effects of massage therapy.

Physiotherapy, on the other hand, is more concerned with muscle rehabilitation and joint mobilization and function, in addition to pain relief.

In fact, physiotherapy offers treatment for a wide variety of ailments, including:

  • Knee pain
  • Tissue injuries
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck injuries
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain
  • Ankle sprains
  • Sports injury
  • Mobility issues
  • Damaged or deteriorated muscle tissue

These are just a few of the many issues addressed by physiotherapy.

When considering physiotherapy vs massage therapy, something like pelvic floor rehabilitation, for instance, can be treated with physiotherapy, whereas a massage therapist is unlikely to be able to help much with that specific condition. In other words, the scope of what can be treated is typically more comprehensive for physiotherapists.

 

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Massage vs Physiotherapy – Accreditation

Another key difference between massage therapy and physiotherapy is in training and accreditation.

In Ontario, physiotherapists need to attend a master’s program and will have the title physiotherapist or physical therapist, sometimes shorthanded as PT.

They must also be registered with a regulatory college. In Ontario, registered physiotherapists work within the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.

By contrast, massage therapists have a far different educational background. They require a massage therapy diploma from a program recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skill Development.

If they are designated as a registered massage therapist (RMT) or massage therapist (MT), then they will have had to have obtained a Certificate of Registration from the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. 

Physiotherapy vs Massage Therapy – Methods

Perhaps the most important difference between massage therapy and physiotherapy comes down to the distinct methods each uses to achieve its intended goals.

For physiotherapy, treatment can incorporate:

  • Massage
  • Ice treatments
  • Manual therapy
  • Stretching
  • Exercise
  • Electrotherapy (electrical stimulation)
  • Ultrasound therapy

Once again, the main purpose of physiotherapy is to reduce pain and restore range of movement and overall muscle and joint function.

Massage therapy, by contrast, is more keenly focused on pain relief and relaxation, though you can see some added mobility benefits as well. Massage therapy relies on deep tissue massage and other massage techniques to help with:

  • Blood circulation
  • Relieving tension in the soft tissue of the body
  • Relieving tension at trigger points throughout the body
  • Connective tissue ailments through connective tissue massage
  • And more

 

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Physiotherapy vs Massage – Getting the Help You Need

physiotherapy vs massage

Now that you understand the difference between massage and physiotherapy, let’s take a look at how we can get you the right treatment for your pain and mobility restrictions.

White Pine Health offers a full range of services in rehabilitation and physiotherapy in Vaughan. With our commitment to patient-centered treatments, we never cut corners.

Every patient’s unique conditions are considered when we develop a specialized treatment plan designed to relieve pain, restore mobility, and get you feeling 100% healthy again.

With White Pine, you won’t have to undergo physiotherapy vs RMT debate to figure out which is right for you, as we provide both physiotherapy and massage therapy services. You’ll receive the right type of support for your personal health care journey with White Pine Health.

White Pine Health offers virtual physiotherapy sessions, giving you access to health-improving physiotherapy care right from home. Contact us to book a free 20-minute video session today.

Tahmineh (Tammy) Kamza

Physiotherapist
Dry Needling Provider
Hydrotherapist

 
Tammy graduated from the University of Toronto with an “Honors in Science” and obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in the United States.

Her thesis, ‘Effects Of Exercise In Falls Prevention In Community-Dwelling Older Adults’ took almost 2 years to complete. She finished her manual therapy designations from trained professionals of St. Augustine University in Florida. Finally, got her Dry Needling certification from the prestigious organization Kinetacore, a leading post-graduate program in North America.

Aside from manual therapy and dry needling, she is well versed in hydrotherapy, taping and corrective exercise. She is a true believer in active therapy, thus her treatment goals always include an emphasis on physical activity with aim of improving client’s functional abilities.

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