Physiotherapy vs Physical Therapy: Understanding the Key Differences

Feb 28, 2023

Physiotherapy and physical therapy are two types of treatments that can help you maintain your physical function and well-being. When it comes to choosing between these two treatments, it’s important to understand their differences and similarities to make an informed decision.  

In this article, we will explore the distinctions between physiotherapy and physical therapy. 

Clear Differences between Physiotherapy and Physical Therapy 

Physiotherapy and physical therapy are similar in that they both take a hands-on approach to your health and well-being. However, they have distinct differences in their focus and goals.

Physiotherapy vs Physical Therapy Understanding the Key Differences

Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy is primarily designed to help reduce pain and improve mobility in your joints. Physical therapists, who are trained medical professionals, diagnose injuries or conditions and develop exercise plans to help patients recover from injuries or surgery. They can also help individuals deal with long-term pain or balance issues. 

Individuals seeking care from physical therapists typically suffer from pain caused by various injuries or immobility resulting from accidents, surgeries, sports injuries, or birth/growth defects.  

Physical therapists typically assess and treat musculoskeletal issues related to non-threatening injuries, chronic movement issues, or recovery from surgery. 

In addition, physical therapists work in various settings, including private practices, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and fitness centres. Each location has specialised equipment that a physical therapist will use to perform exercise modalities tailored to the patient’s needs. 


On the other hand, physiotherapy aims to treat disease and injury with a range of techniques that can include massage and joint manipulation.  

Physiotherapy involves developing customized programs to restore a patient’s functional ability and movement as much as possible. Physiotherapists receive education and training to help patients at all stages of life where function and activity are impacted by various factors such as disease, health conditions, injury, environmental factors, ageing, disorders, and weight issues. 

Physiotherapists take a more holistic approach to your overall health and well-being, and they won’t just focus on improving your mobility. They’ll also consider your lifestyle and overall health during your session. 

Like physical therapists, physiotherapists work in various settings, including public and private hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, and fitness centres. 

Concise Similarities Between Physiotherapy and Physical Therapy 

Both physiotherapy and physical therapy can help you enjoy an overall better quality of life and regain your confidence in performing daily activities. They can also be used to treat injuries and conditions that affect your physical function. 

Physical therapists may offer hot and cold therapies during your session to reduce pain and inflammation. They may also use ultrasound to heat your injury and reduce inflammation in the surrounding area. 

Common Techniques Used by Physiotherapists  

When you work with a physiotherapist, they use a variety of hands-on techniques to massage your muscle tissue. This can decrease any stiffness and pain you are feeling while improving your blood circulation. 

The following are some common hands-on techniques used by physiotherapists: 

  1. Joint mobilization and manipulation, involve gliding the joint to improve motion, function, and control. 
  2. Physiotherapy instrument mobilization (PIM), employs handcrafted instruments to mobilize joints and tissues. 
  3. Muscle energy techniques (METs), use the body’s energy to relax muscles through autogenic or reciprocal inhibition and lengthening of the muscle. 
  4. Soft tissue techniques, such as massage, stretching, and myofascial release help to stimulate the body’s soft tissues. 
  5. Other techniques such as acupuncture may also be used by physiotherapists to treat various conditions. 

Physiotherapy is typically a short-term treatment following surgery or an accident, whereas physical therapy is a longer-term solution to help you enjoy a better overall quality of life.  

In Conclusion 

Physiotherapy and physical therapy are two different types of treatments that can help you maintain your physical function and well-being. While they share similarities, they have distinct differences in their focus and goals. It’s important to understand these differences to choose the right treatment option for your needs. 

Whether you choose physiotherapy or physical therapy, our team of experts is here to support you. Kin Body and Sole offer a range of treatment options that can help you recover from injuries or conditions and maintain your physical function.  

Connect with Our Team for Physiotherapy 

If you are experiencing pain or mobility issues, it’s important to seek the right treatment to help you recover and maintain your physical function. Our team of physiotherapists can help you understand which treatment option is right for you based on your current needs and concerns. 

We offer physiotherapy and physical therapy services that can help you regain your confidence and improve your overall quality of life. Our physiotherapists in York are trained to diagnose injuries or conditions and develop customized treatment plans to help you recover. 

We understand that choosing the right treatment can be challenging, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with us today. Our team will be happy to answer any questions you have and help you find the right solution for your needs. You may contact us at 01904 373 118 or email us at