Health and Fitness: Physical Therapy Article Category

Most people in some time in their life will experience some kind of muscular-skeletal pain. Choosing a specialist for treatment can often be quite daunting as there are a wide variety of therapies available. These include but are not limited to: Physiotherapy, remedial massage, Bowen, osteopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture.

While many therapists purport to offer the "best" solution for physical injury, in truth, there is often no one best therapy and pain relief can be obtained from most therapies. Often the boundaries between different therapies can be blurred. For example, both osteopathy and chiropractic have their origins in mobilising restricted areas of the body and specialise in working with the spine. Almost all of the above therapies will probably use some form of massage as part of the treatment process.

What is more important in choosing a particular therapy is the skill and intention of the respective therapist. The 2 primary factors to a successful treatment plan are:

  1. Does the therapist have a sufficient skill base to provide an effective treatment within their chosen modality of treatment?
  2. What is the intention of the therapist - is it to genuinely offer the best care or to make a fast buck?

Personal recommendation is one of the best ways of finding a good therapist as a good therapist is unlikely to be recommended if the person did not experience at least some resolution to their injury. A personal recommendation also shows that the therapist is amenable, professional and offers reasonable value for money.

In today's digital age, most therapists will have a web site, which will list their qualifications and membership of professional bodies. Membership of a professional body is not always an indication of extensive training as all membership bodies have varying standards of entry. Therefore, it is worth checking out a membership body to determine its entry requirements.

It is worth noting that some therapies are regulated whereas some are not. Regulation, training standards and qualification levels vary from country to country. For example in the UK, massage is not regulated and anyone can offer themselves as a massage therapist with no or very few qualifications.

The main problem is there is not a single register for therapists. For example in the UK, there is the Health Professional Council, General Chiropractic Council, General Osteopathic Council and Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council among others.

Length of a training is an indication of determining the level of skill of a practitioner. However, there is not always a direct correlation between the level of skill and length of training. In the UK at least there has been a push to 'upgrade' healthcare qualifications from diploma to degree level with a corresponding increase in course length. However, having a degree does not necessarily confer greater skills and, often, a degree will contain several peripheral academic subjects that do not necessary equate to greater skills competences. For example in the final two years of my osteopathy training, a large proportion of my time was devoted to research skills and completing a research project. While the process was interesting and worthwhile, it did not necessarily make me a better therapist.

Therefore, when choosing a therapist, it often pays to do your homework first:

  1. Ask around for personal recommendations
  2. Call the therapist first and confirm that their therapy is a good fit for your particular problem
  3. Read their web site and check their qualifications and membership. This info will be readily available on the web.

By doing a little homework first, it should be possible to avoid the "cowboys". Remember it is your body and choosing a good therapist will not only be a good financial investment but will also avoid embarrassing and unpleasant experiences as well as possible injury due to maltreatment.