Osteopathy vs. Physiotherapy vs. Massage Therapy

Justin Vandenberg

02 February 2018

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Osteopathy vs. Physiotherapy vs. Massage Therapy

Osteopathy vs. Physiotherapy vs. Massage Therapy

Who should I see?

All therapists will work under their professions philosophical principles to healing. In today’s modern rehabilitation world, we find more and more overlap between therapies and it becomes difficult to pinpoint who does what. Factors that affect a treatment plan, depending on where the therapist is employed, how the therapist has been trained, and what his/her background is. Each therapist will help you differently compared to the next, even if they are in the same field. I know this might not be the answer you were hoping to hear. Let’s try and break down the similarities and differences between these three therapies:


  • Extensive knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the body
  • Treat musculoskeletal pain caused by a variety of conditions
  • Holistic manual therapy


  • The underlying philosophy and method of treatment of the 3 professions do differ & the resulting outcome does change based on which therapist you see, and depending on the condition with which you seek treatment.

Here is a quick overview of the three professions to define their differences:


  • Many physical therapists focus on the problem area and work around defined treatment protocols
  • Physiotherapists are trained to use therapeutic modalities and manual therapy to help assist in your recovery
  • They emphasize rehabilitation programs around exercise prescription
  • Physiotherapists are amazing healthcare specialists to help with a variety of conditions

Massage Therapy

  • Massage therapists focus primarily on the soft tissues of the body
  • Their philosophy lies in the use of touch and how it can assist the body in healing
  • The effects of touch have been proven to alleviate pain associated with muscular over-use, associated with everyday and occupational stressors
  • The work performed by massage therapists has been proven to be very beneficial for a variety of conditions


  • Manual osteopaths bring together the philosophical ideas of touch, joint mobilization, soft tissue and visceral manipulation, and exercise prescription
  • Skilled palpation allows the therapist to find restrictions in tissues and motion, to improve circulation and altered biomechanics
  • This ultimately helps guide a unique treatment plan for each client
  • Manual osteopaths are trained to look at the body as a whole unit, rather than as individual parts
  • Hands-on techniques include resistance, stretching, and gentle pressure known as Osteopathic Manipulative Techniques (OMT)
  • Is a relatively new concept and therapy in Manitoba. Many people are not aware of the profession

I hope this resource helps bring some light to the similarities and differences regarding the three therapies. A good therapist will take the time to respond, and let you know if another option is better. A good therapist is looking out for your best interest.

Have any questions for me regarding your pain? Do not hesitate to reach out!