What’s the Difference Between Soft Tissue Occupational Therapy vs Physiotherapy

Soft tissue occupational therapy vs physiotherapy

  • Occupational therapy

A soft tissue occupational therapist is very ‘hands on’ with treatments. We review each individual and consider how your injury/musculoskeletal disorder/pain is impacting on your life. We look at your daily occupations such as work, hobbies, sleep or your role in caring for kids and consider how these habits and routines may be contributing to your pain. We also review your mental health and how stress may be impacting on your pain experience. In doing so, we are searching for the root cause and provide appropriate treatment to allow you to become pain-free as to allow you perform the daily activities you need to do. When we treat muscles, we treat holistically, by also treating the surrounding muscles of your injured muscle. You will never leave a session with a soft tissue occupational therapist without receiving some form of hands on treatment such as myofascial release, trigger point dry needling and many other neuromuscular techniques. 

  • Physiotherapy 

A physiotherapist also treats musculoskeletal conditions. They will help reduce your pain by treating the muscles accordingly to improve the ability of your body to perform movements. The goal of physiotherapy is to restore normal movement and reduce symptoms. A physiotherapist will use a variety of treatment methods, including the prescription of exercises/stretches, massage, dry needling and others.

In regard to soft tissue occupational therapy vs physiotherapy, both professionals are adept at treating your soft tissue injuries, however, their approach to injury rehabilitation is very different.

What can soft tissue therapy treat? 

Soft tissue occupational therapists and physiotherapists can treat the following conditions: 

Headaches, migraines, back pain, muscle spasms, muscle pain, referred pain, chronic pain, unexplained pain, frozen shoulder, fatigue, joint aches, rotator cuff issues, whiplash, overuse injuries, occupational strain, tendinosis, sciatic pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, sporting injuries and so on.  If you have a condition that is not listed here, please contact (details at the end) our friendly Soft Tissue Occupational Therapist to ask if they can treat your condition. 

Soft tissue occupational therapy treatment can assist with all these conditions and symptoms, through the usage of multiple techniques to relieve pain: 

  • Trigger point release therapy: Trigger point therapy involves finding the trigger points within your muscles and applying massage to reduce the pain. Trigger points are hypersensitive or painful spots found within your muscles – they are essentially the knots within your muscles that are associated with tightness and pain. They may cause referred pain, which is pain felt outside of your affected muscle (headaches are a great example of referred pain). Trigger points may disappear on their own or exist until they are treated through a trigger point ‘release’. Trigger points reduce your muscle length, meaning that your muscle may have difficulty with contracting (tensing) and extending (stretching). When your muscle does not have full length, blood and lymph flow is reduced within the area, causing the body to heal slower and accumulate more waste products within the area, maintaining pain.  
  • Myofascial release: This involves hands-on massage treatment, moving through your muscles and fascia to allow them to ‘release’, improving blood flow and lymphatic circulation. Fascia is a web-like covering every muscle, allowing them to stay in place within your body. When the fascia is tight, this results in poor blood circulation, reduced oxygen supply, and reduced removal of waste products and toxins that cause inflammation. Over time, this means that pain becomes chronic, our muscles and joints stiffen, and this causes premature ageing. Trigger point therapy and myofascial release go hand in hand.  
  • Other techniques can involve dry needling, taping, prescription of stretches and rehabilitative exercises.

After receiving soft tissue therapy, you can: 

  • Reduce your pain (no more headaches, no more lower back pain, no more tightness), which will allow you to participate in doing the things that are most important to you: doing activities with your family, working, participating in your hobbies, socialising with friends. 
  • You will also receive health benefits such as increased muscle strength and overall increased wellbeing – mentally and physically without the burden of chronic pain. 

If you still can’t make up your mind about soft tissue occupational therapy vs physiotherapy, book an appointment with a professional to find out firsthand! 

At Urban Health HQ our highly trained Soft Tissue Occupational Therapists will use hands on approaches to help treat your injuries, conditions or any concerns you may have. You can make an appointment today or contact us by calling 0411 563 391 or email kristen@urbanhealthhq.com.au 

Published by Urban Health HQ

We are a health and fitness centre offering Occupational Therapy, Exercise Physiology, Personal Training and Group Fitness classes.

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