What is a Myotherapist?
Myotherapy comes from the Latin words "Myo", meaning muscle and the "Therpia". "Therpia" or therapy in English means "healing" or "curing". Myotherapists are those trained in the practice of Myotherapy, a hands-on method of assessment and treatment. Myotherapists have the training to treat a wide variety of acute and chronic issues. The use of a wide range of soft-tissue skills and hands-on therapy is well suited to treating musculoskeletal (MSK) and myofascial pain. Although pain relief can prove relaxing, that is not the aim of treatment. The focus of treatment is to get the consumer out of pain and back to activity. Hence, a base level massage is more suited for pure relaxation. Though pain is a "stressor" (See the article on the Human Stress response), and relief of the cause may well work better. Massage therapists have a fairly narrow scope of practice and may not be able to identify the root cause.
Commonly treated conditions include:-
- Neck pain (see article - Neck Pain treatment, causes, help - An MSK Therapy perspective)
- Migraines or tension headaches (some types)
- Jaw pain
- Back Pain (see article - Lower Back Pain treatment, causes, help - An MSK Therapy perspective)
- Musculoskeletal aches and pain associated with pregnancy
- Trapped nerves
- Hip pain
- Knee pain (see articles)
- Shoulder pain
- Foot and ankle pain (see articles)
- Work-related injuries
- Sports injuries (see articles)
- Wrist, hand and elbow pain
Differences between Remedial Massage and Myotherapy
Techniques available to a Myotherapist typically include all of the soft-tissue therapy skills taught at base massage level, sports and remedial massage level and more advanced myofascial release (MFR techniques. The knowledge and techniques available to a practitioner will partly depend on the training providers course syllabus. For example, the principal practitioner Terry has previously trained as a McTimoney Chiropractor, which provides him with a wealth of additional assessment training and knowledge. Although he left the Chiropractic profession after moving to Australia from the UK, his knowledge of patient assessment, joint mobilisation techniques and prescriptive exercise are above that taught too Myotherapists. Equally, he has training in Gua Sha and IASTM, Dry Needling (DN), Kinesiology Taping (KT) and a wide variety of other techniques. Terry, choose to complete a formal Kinesology taping course in 2020 and for insurance purposes working with the UK Invictus Games participants as part of the medical team. He was already familiar with strapping and taping, from both his previous military experience and sports and remedial massage training. As a practitioner with over fifteen years of experience, he works in an evidence-informed way with consumers/patients.
Training and experience enable practitioners to choose the most relevant "tool" within their knowledge base or "toolbox" for the task at hand and meet the consumer's/patient's treatment goals. Occasionally, consumers may have previously had a bad experience with a particular treatment modality, such as Dry Needling (DN) and with another practitioner. Equally, some consumers do not like needles, though they are very different to hypodermic needles. Although a consumer/patient may have had a bad experience previously does not mean they will experience the same with another practitioner. That said, the principal myotherapist in the Brisbane clinic has training in a wide array of other advanced techniques, which can produce very similar outcomes to needling and without the use of needles.
What's the difference between a Myotherapist and Physiotherapist
Myotherapist training is either at Advanced Diploma or undergraduate degree level. It can take 2-3 years to complete and depends on the end qualification. A degree may not require any experience and just year 12 grades. Advanced diplomas tend to require prior massage training. Usually, there is a base level diploma of remedial massage requirement. Some people will already have a lot of experience and before taking on further study. Myotherapists learn more methods of assessment and treatment. A wider skillset means a broader scope of practice or the type of thing that one can treat. Training covers some diagnostic testing methods, though myotherapists are not able to diagnose. There can still be differences in subjects taught from one provider to the next. Some courses may teach Kinesiology Taping, while others may not. Some Myotherapists may say that they offer "Physical Therapy", but they should not. The terms "Physical Therapy", "Physiotherapist", and "Physiotherapy" are legally protected titles. Protected titles have been used in most countries for decades and refer to regulated professions. Such health professions can usually diagnose as part of their scope of practice.
Physiotherapy training and other primary and allied health care professionals typically train to degree level minimum, and sometimes masters. The more extended training period provides Physiotherapists with a greater depth and breadth of knowledge than that of a Myotherapist. Physiotherapists also have a broader scope of practice and can diagnose, much like other regulated health professionals. Physiotherapy training covers some massage and soft-tissue therapy skills, though the courses focus on other skills and knowledge. Massage and soft-tissue skills are a relatively tiny part of Physiotherapy training. Hence, the actual practical massage and soft tissue skills experience can vary. One could say the same for other Allied Health professionals. That said, prior experiences and interests also shape how each of us works. There are a lot of people who learnt massage before more extensive training. Also, there is a lot of scope for more training later and based on interests. When seeking treatment, there are many things to look for, and just picking a specific profession is not always the best option. The article on Finding a good, ethical Musculoskeletal health professional includes some of the things to look for and avoid.
Generally, there can be many overlaps between the techniques musculoskeletal professionals use, be they primary care, allied health or other. However, there can be significant differences between how each profession approaches a problem and even between professionals within the same profession due to differences in academic institution training, philosophy, personal experience and interests. Some such differences are more historical, which one can see when looking at differences between Chiropractors, Osteopaths and Physiotherapists.
Massage and Myotherapy Registrations
Terry brings over 15 years of experience working in the MSK field back to Australia from the UK. He also has training in a wide array of techniques and currently works as a Myotherapist. His main areas of interest relate to trauma and myofascial pain relief. He has also taught as a senior course coach on one of the first myotherapy courses in Brisbane.