Musculoskeletal Therapy is a therapy designed to treat the muscles and skeletal system using various soft tissue and mobilisation techniques.
A Musculoskeletal Therapist differs from a Remedial Massage therapist as they focus more attention on the causes that underly the condition. Your therapist will help you create a holistic plan to manage your journey to wellness. This may include postural awareness, exercise prescription, and/or hands-on techniques like deep tissue massage, stretching, electrotherapy, cupping and dry needling.
People visit a Musculoskeletal Therapist for many reasons including chronic or acute pain in the way of muscular pain, back pain, soft tissue conditions and ligament and tendon damage.
What is a Musculoskeletal Therapist?
As this is a relatively new profession there can be some confusion as to what type of therapist a musculoskeletal therapist is. Musculoskeletal therapists are not physiotherapists, nor are they massage therapists. They are a primary health care practitioners, with a Bachelor degree qualification in Health Sciences. A musculoskeletal therapist possesses a high level of skill and knowledge in the diagnosis of dysfunction and disorders of a musculoskeletal nature and has an extensive range of treatment options to effectively treat and prevent injuries.
Musculoskeletal therapists posses a wide array of techniques which they may use to treat your condition.
These techniques can include:
Soft tissue therapy – therapeutic massage of the tissues of the body to relax the muscles, decrease tension, break down scar tissue and adhesions and for relief from pain.
Stretching – used to lengthen muscles or soft tissues and/or increase joint range of motion
Heat – this can be used to facilitate muscle and soft tissue relaxation and relief from pain
Cold – this is used for the treatment of acute injuries, to decrease swelling and inflammation and also for relief from pain
Joint Mobilisation – this is a technique designed to increase the range of motion and mobility of joints and the surrounding soft tissues. This is distinctly different from the high velocity manipulations that are used by other therapists such as chiropractors.
Myofascial release – fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds every muscle, groups of muscles, bones and organs. Fascia can shorten and cause restrictions in movement and impair posture, a number of techniques may be used to release these restrictions.
Cupping Therapy – this is a technique that originates in Ancient Chinese medicine where a cup is used to create a vacuum on the skin, Western medicine has now advanced the technique and it is now used to treat a range of different conditions in a number of ways
Dry Needling Therapy – this technique uses fine needles to deactivate trigger points within the soft tissues of the body. It can be used for a wide range of conditions to reduce muscle tightness, bring pain relief and promote healing of the area. This technique is distinctly different from acupuncture which is a Chinese medicine technique designed to affect the energy channels (meridians) of the body, dry needling uses points that are defined by western based anatomy and physiology.
Manual lymphatic drainage – this technique uses a slow and repetitive stroke to encourage the flow and movement of lymphatic fluid. It is commonly used to help reduce inflammation and swelling following an acute injury, or following surgery and may also be used for people with disorders causing fluid retention.
MST’s are experts in movement, function and posture, as such relief from pain; or recovery from an injury are often the most thought of and sought after benefits of musculoskeletal therapy. However, MST can also provide a number of other health benefits. These can include improvements in posture, strengthening of core musculature, increased range of movement and flexibility and improved overall well-being. Furthermore MST’s are skilled in providing advice regarding injury prevention, managing the natural process of ageing, and even rehabilitation following surgery.