What is the difference between physiotherapy and musculoskeletal therapy?

With staff absence rapidly increasing, the need to offer the right occupational health services within the workplace is now!

Many employers aren’t even aware of the difference between physiotherapy and musculoskeletal therapy. Below we go into each area in a bit more detail.

What is MSK Therapy?

Musculoskeletal disorders - also referred to as MSDs, are one of the primary causes of employee sickness, staff absence and loss of productivity for businesses in the UK. 

Businesses need to be aware of MSK disorders for employees within their workforce for several reasons, as many suffer and don’t ask for the support they need when they need it most. With many fearing being judged with the feeling of not being able to perform their daily job functions. 

Musculoskeletal disorders affect bones, joints and connective tissue. Many people believe MSK disorders affect older adults - but you cannot be further from the truth as it can affect anybody at any time, especially employees in the workplace. 

What methods are used in Musculoskeletal Therapy? 

Musculoskeletal therapy (MSK therapy) is similar to physiotherapy in that it uses movement and function,  but MSK Therapy adopts a more hands-on approach to assist with a wide  range of issues such as: 

  • Muscle & Joint injuries.  
  • Disorders & diseases that can affect joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. 
  • Sports injuries such as joint pain, 
  • Complex pain conditions such as arthritis and problems after some surgical procedures 

MSK treatment involves a combination of manipulation techniques, low-level laser therapy and functional rehabilitation to relieve pain and increase mobility, reducing pain and increasing mobility whilst getting employees back to work quickly and safely. 

Our trained Musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapists are specially trained to deliver the best treatment where and when needed. 

What is Occupational Health Physiotherapy?

Occupational Health physiotherapy aims to help employers get their staff back to work after illness or injury as quickly as possible. 

OH Physiotherapists aim to help employees use methods of movement and equipment within their roles to improve their health and employee wellbeing, prevent and reduce the possibility of sickness and injury in the workplace, as well as help staff return to work or a new role. 

Our trained UKIM Physios take the time to build and develop strong relationships with employers in order to create a bespoke support plan to educate them on safe working practices for their employees and train them on matters such as lifting, handling and equipment layout.

In the cases of an employee becoming disabled, developing an ongoing health problem or reduced mobility meaning they might have difficulty in continuing their job function,  our trained physiotherapists will create a bespoke physio plan and discuss with an employer what duties you are able to do and what adjustments may be required.

Physiotherapy is suitable for the following conditions:

  • Neuromusculoskeletal
  • Back pain
  • Whiplash Injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Post-surgery recovery

Our physiotherapists work with the employee to adopt a self-management approach throughout an employee treatment. This approach addresses the biomechanical, psychosocial and individual characteristics in order to offer the right solution. They will also support the employees in identifying any barriers they may come across and set clearly defined goals to break down those barriers. 

Physiotherapy is a holistic approach to restoring movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability. 

What techniques are used in Physiotherapy?

  • Massage
  • Movement and Exercise. ...
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) 
  • Ultrasound
  • Acupuncture 
  • Hydrotherapy. ...
  • Workplace Physiotherapy

At UKIM, we have seen the benefits 1st hand of thorough occupational health provider staff to develop mutually beneficial solutions; those with MSD will see improved levels of wellbeing. In turn, this enables employers to benefit from improvements in engagement and enhanced productivity levels.


Get in touch with our team of specialists and let us build a service that is entirely designed to support your business, its commercial needs and most importantly, your employees.