Physiotherapy vs Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Between 10% and 55% of muscular injuries happen during sporting activities. If you suffer such an injury, it’s important to know what treatment you need.

It’s possible to compare physiotherapy vs. physical therapy as there are differences between them. However, many people don’t know what those differences are. If you need one of these forms of treatment, it’s best to know how they differ so you know which one will be best for you.

If you’re wondering about the difference between physiotherapy and physical therapy, keep reading.

What Is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy intends to treat injuries, diseases, or deformities. A physiotherapist provides help through exercise routines, education, and advice. Typical treatment includes massages and joint manipulation rather than surgery or drugs.

Physiotherapy is a holistic approach that focuses on the health of the individual.

People often make the comparison between massage therapy vs. physiotherapy. The difference is that massage therapy is about immediate relaxation to deal with pain and muscle spasms. Physical therapy focuses more on the rehabilitation of joints and muscles.

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy aims to reduce pain, improve mobility, and allow people’s bodies to function more comfortably. It’s typically used after an injury or surgery to help with recovery. It can also help treat other causes of pain or improve balance.

Physical therapists are fully trained/licensed medical professionals. Their skills include:

  • Diagnosing physical abnormalities
  • Improving function and mobility
  • Promoting physical activity

People often use the terms interchangeably when comparing manual therapy vs. physical therapy. Manual therapy is actually a subset of physical therapy. It’s aimed at identifying the cause of a disease process through tissue-based examination.

Physical Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: How They Differ

Both of these consist of movement and hands-on methods to treat issues. The approaches of each, however, are slightly different.

Physical therapy is more exercise-based and is typically used for non-threatening injuries. This includes pains, muscle aches, strains, and chronic movement issues (e.g., arthritis).

Physiotherapy is generally a hospital-based form of treatment. It’s most commonly used in urgent situations for post-operative care.

Common Techniques

Physical therapists most commonly use exercise for treatment. They will assess a patient’s situation and needs, then design an exercise plan to help improve their mobility in the affected areas. Other methods are also used when necessary, such as hot/cold therapies and ultrasound treatment.

Physiotherapists use various hands-on treatments to mobilize, manipulate, and massage tissues. Some common techniques include:

  • Soft tissue massages
  • Stretching
  • PIM (physiotherapy instrument mobilization)
  • METs (Minimal energy techniques)
  • Osteotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Kinesiology

While these are some of the more typical methods used in each practice, other techniques will sometimes be used in particular situations depending on the patient’s needs.

Which is Better Out of Physiotherapy vs. Physical Therapy?

If you want to compare physiotherapy vs. physical therapy to determine which is best, the answer varies based on the situation. 

Have you had an operation, and do you need aid with the recovery? Then you need physiotherapy. If you are experiencing joint aches/pains, or want to improve mobility, then physical therapy is probably the better option.

If you’re interested in more lifestyle articles, check out some of our other blog posts.