Myotherapy vs Physiotherapy vs Osteopathy
There is a certain amount of cross-over with all 3 therapies, each will assess, treat and manage your condition with the goal of finding a solution to your pain or condition and assisting in getting you moving again. How this is done depends on your therapist, what they specialise in, and how they treat. Each may use a range of treatments, including massage, mobilisation, manipulation, and stretching. Each may also provide rehabilitative exercises as part of your treatment plan. Each may differ in their philosophy, treatment approach and methodology.
The formal industry body definitions are provided below along with my general opinion on how to choose the best therapist for you.
Myotherapy is the evidence-based assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal pain and associated conditions. Myotherapy Association Australia
Physiotherapy - Using advanced techniques and evidence-based care, physiotherapists assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders. Physiotherapy helps repair damage, reduce stiffness and pain, increase mobility and improve quality of life.
Australian Physiotherapy Association
Osteopathy is a form of manual healthcare which recognises the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions. Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit. Osteopathic treatment uses techniques such as stretching and massage for general treatment of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) along with mobilisation of specific joints and soft tissues. Osteopathy Australia
When to See a Myotherapist
At Myotherapy and Movement Clinic I often see people who are experiencing chronic (ongoing) musculoskeletal pain or injury. These conditions might include headaches and neck pain, low back pain, tendinopathies, overuse injuries and general muscle pain or stiffness. I will also treat muscle strains (tears) and disc injuries. I treat using a range of methods, including remedial massage, mobilisations, stretching, dry needling and most importantly, rehabilitative exercises. With a background in sports science, I advocate strongly for strengthening exercises. We will review lifestyle and daily habits (exercise, work, stress management, computer use, etc.). In many cases, simple lifestyle changes can make a significant impact on someone's chronic condition.
When to See a Physiotherapist
You could see a physio for any of the conditions above but I would generally suggest you might see a physio for an acute injury or condition such as a ligament tear, joint dislocation, contusion (impact injuries), or initial recovery after surgery. These conditions are more within a physio’s scope of practice. You may find physiotherapists to be less hands-on than an osteopath or myotherapist.
When to See a Osteopath
Again, you could see an osteopath for any of the above conditions. They also use many of the treatments that both a myo or a physio use, but may also incorporate spinal adjustments.
The above are my personal opinions and gathered from both working as a practitioner and also having been a patient of each therapy at some stage.
Finding the right therapist for you
Find a therapist that has your best interests at heart - they want to help improve your condition and provide you with the tools to eventually continue your journey away from the clinic! A good therapist will not insist you see them each week, every week with no end in sight when it is not necessary and not helping you.
Make sure your therapist develops a treatment plan with you – the plan needs to be one that you are happy and committed to follow through with. A plan will enable your therapist to provide you with the best treatment for your condition as well as gauging its effectiveness. It will also provide you with a guide on how long you will require treatment for. The plan should include how many sessions they expect you will require and what you will need to do away from the clinic in order for your treatment to be successful.
Does your therapist communicate with you? Do they listen to your concerns and answer your questions? Do they inform you of what they are doing and why? I find good communication between therapist, and patient helps build trust as well as educating you about your condition and how best to help it.
Go with a recommendation – if I find a good therapist I tell people about them. Word of mouth is a great tool when searching for a good health practitioner.
Check out what additional training your therapist has - Myotherapists are required to study 2-4 years, physiotherapists 4 years and osteopaths 5 years, but a good therapist will continue to enhance their knowledge with additional courses and education, in fact; it's mandatory for membership to each of the relevant associations. Once graduating, many therapists go on to further studies. I have spent six years at university, but a significant amount of my knowledge comes from participating in relevant and up-to-date courses along with my own regular research and reading. I love getting tough clinical cases; they motivate me to keep my knowledge up to date.
If you have a shoulder issue, for example, look for a therapist who has a special interest or has done further study on this area.
Don’t be afraid to see different therapists for different conditions, or to compliment what another therapist may be doing. I have a patient who sees me for a shoulder-related problem, and an osteopath for a lumbar disc related issue. I also see people who might have a physio that provides them with mostly exercise/rehabilitation based appointments; they then see me to provide them with some more hands-on manual therapy.
Most importantly, are you comfortable with who is treating you and confident you are receiving the best treatment for your condition? If not, change your therapy or your therapist!