The Difference Between Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Remedial Massage

The Difference Between Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Remedial Massage

By Kayla Della Bella (Remedial Massage Therapist at FNQ Health Co.) 

I often hear when people visit me for a treatment, “Oh I wasn’t sure if to see a Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Massage Therapist”. Then begins my little breakdown of each profession and what to expect in each treatment and which one would suit each client.

My hope is to educate all you lovely people on the different practices so you have the knowledge and confidence to choose which treatment is right for you.

Whilst all these different modalities aim and work towards a common goal, there are quite a few distinct differences between the three. Let’s be honest, who has time to read and understand paragraphs and paragraphs of what each profession does! So I’ve simplified it for a quick and easy read.

So, what is the difference?


  • Minimum 4 years of study
  • Experts in the prevention, diagnosis, rehabilitation and treatment of a range of sporting injuries, musculoskeletal conditions and chronic pain 
  • Evidence-based treatment approach relying on the latest studies to design an appropriate treatment plan, tailored to you
  • Treat all types of patients including babies, athletes, elderly and people with conditions (eg. parkinson’s disease, scoliosis, arthritis, cystic fibrosis etc.)
  • Use a combination of techniques such as manual therapy, movement training, muscle stretching, joint manipulation and exercise prescription


  • Minimum 4-5 years of study
  • More of a holistic approach to the body
  • Focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and organs function as one unit
  • Treat all types of patients including babies, athletes, elderly and people with conditions (eg. lower back/disc injuries, headaches/migraines, desk related postural strains etc.)
  • Occasionally use a gentler approach to reach a greater outcome for treatment
  • Perform a thorough examination and use a combination of techniques such as manual therapy, orthopaedic and neurological testing, movement training, muscle stretching and joint manipulation to determine the diagnosis and cause of patient symptoms

Remedial Massage

  • Minimum Diploma Level Qualification
  • Use soft and deep tissue manual therapy to release muscle tension and stress, prevent pain and injury, performance improvement, increase circulation and treat chronic pain
  • Can sometimes be used as a ‘warm up’ before physio or osteo treatment
  • Treat many types of patients such as kids, adolescents, athletes, pregnant women, elderly etc.

Want to keep learning?

Carry on with the article below >

What do you experience after treatment?

After treatment you may feel a little light-headed, sore or just a little “off”, this is completely normal and you will start to feel better as the day goes on. There are always a few things to remember/do after any type of treatment to assist with making yourself feel better as soon as possible, these include;

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Keep your body moving (don’t sit down on the couch for the rest of the day)
  • Do some light stretching
  • Rest your body (try not to do an intense exercise session)
  • Applying some heat to the affected area (if suggested by your practitioner) which can help relax you and your muscles particularly if they are feeling tender after soft tissue release

So which treatment is right for me?

Whilst these are just the basics of each profession you may find that your practitioner has additional training. For example I am a Remedial Massage Therapist but I also perform Dry Needling. So it’s a good idea to shop around and see what each practitioner can offer you and your body.

No matter which mode of treatment you choose it is important to take notice of what your body responds to best and the overall feeling you get after treatment. Always remember that you won’t always be fixed after the first treatment and your body will need multiple sessions to get the best results and get you back to achieving your goals!

Have a question?