What is the Difference Between Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy?

The medical terms physical and physiotherapy therapy are often confused by many people, especially when trying to get a medical examination. But surprisingly, there is little difference between the two modalities. According to most medical therapists, you can use the terms interchangeably, but all the same, they do have their differences. Most people use physiotherapy to help get back into shape whenever they have issues maintaining and restoring muscle health.

On the other hand, physical therapy is used to strengthen muscles that are injured and the surrounding muscles and improve post-surgery outcomes by enhancing scar tissue healing and improving range of motion.

What is Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a medical field that aims to restore, enhance, and maintain a patient’s mobility and wellbeing. In essence, the therapy typically helps with joint pains, boosting physical functions through rehabilitation, diagnoses, physical examinations, and physical interventions, among others.

The medical practice is exercised by a licensed practitioner, who typically deals in accidents related injuries, and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which affect joint movements. Other problems include lung complications like asthma, disabilities from heart disease, pelvic complications, loss of mobility resulting from diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis or trauma, Loss of muscle strength, pain, and swellings often occur during palliative care and cancer treatments.

Differences Between Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy

Although the two terms share almost identical aspects, there are distinctions between the two. These differences are majorly based on the geographical location where the term is used and functionality to a minor extent.

For example, In the United States, physical therapy is the dominantly used term in therapy, and its counterpart might only be used while describing the former. That is in contrast to what the majority of the people outside the US refers to. In essence, the rest of the world, including Australia and Europe, typically use physiotherapy while referring to the profession. Despite these minor geographical differences, both terms describe the improvement of flexibility and acute pain treatment, among others.

Additionally, the term physiotherapy is commonly associated with hands-on based therapy. Many therapists and patients would use the term while referring to manual therapy. The therapist is more focused on medical approaches like muscle stretching, joint mobilization, soft tissue release, fascial release, among other practices. Yet, the same group would refer to physical therapy as an exercise-based profession. The patient is instructed to various physical exercises that boost muscle strength, improve balance, and strengthen coordination.

The Terms are Pretty Synonymous

The question of whether physiotherapy and physical therapy is applicable or not should be of little concern as most therapists will readily understand what you’re referring to in whatever term you choose. However, focus on finding a medical therapist who combines hands-on manual therapy with therapeutic physical exercises.

The two blend together for a faster healing experience. As such, therapeutic exercises add to the already effective hands-on therapy to speed up recovery, regain strength, and resolve other unhealthy compensations you might have attracted. The therapist will suggest which exercise routines work best for you; then, it’s your responsibility to adhere to these routines on your own time.

Additionally, physiotherapists are highly skilled in their line of work. In particular, they undergo extensive training in the US, which can be likened to that of a surgeon, yet continue learning in their career to incorporate new modalities, either from a community of physiotherapists or other relative sources. That way, they can implement several treatments and other healing modalities like craniosacral therapy and ultrasound for maximum healing.

When Should You Go for Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy comes in handy when you suffer an injury or other chronic conditions that interfere with your normal functioning. A doctor will refer you to a physical therapist in most cases, especially in a heart attack event or after surgery.

A therapist might then employ a handful of techniques in treating your condition, including manual procedures or exercise-based techniques. Examples of Manual methods include but are not limited to minimal energy techniques, physiotherapy instrument mobilization, minimal energy techniques, massages, and soft tissue techniques

On the other hand, the exercise-based techniques help in boosting the patient’s movement capabilities and function. These might include:

  • Repeated movements of specific body parts for a set period.
  • Whole body exercises in events like jogging or walking
  • And hydrotherapy

As we have noted, both terms imply the same thing, with minor differences based on geographical locations and functionalities. But a crucial point to note is that both physical and physiotherapy aims to restore the lifestyle of patients suffering from chronic ailments.