When you’re in pain it can often be difficult to know which healthcare provider will be best suited to your complaint.
All three professions we look at today are Registered Health Practitioners meaning that they must be registered with their college and issued with a current license to practice in Ontario.
The three colleges are: the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO.com), the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO.on.ca) and the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario (collegept.org). All three have websites where you can look up practitioners in your area, make a complaint if necessary, or obtain more information on their respective professions.
A doctor’s referral is not necessary to make an appointment with any of these health professionals, although if you have extended health benefits, your insurance company might require a referral.
Massage therapists work primarily with muscles but also connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints. Massage therapists cannot diagnose, but we can assess and treat. Generally if you would describe your pain as “achey”, “dull”, or “spasm” it is likely your muscles that need work.
Chiropractors work with the spine, joints, and nervous system. They can diagnose, assess, order and read x-rays, and typically work by performing adjustments using fast, low amplitude thrusts. Often joint pain, or pain that is “stabbing” or “shooting” when moving indicate the need for a chiropractor.
Turn to physiotherapists when you’re looking for strength and mobility such as after an injury or from chronic pain. Physiotherapists can diagnose, assess, and typically provide exercises in their treatments.
Ultimately you may need a combination of the services above, which is why you often see clinics with two or more of these modalities offered.
Natalie Amell, RMT
Amell Massage Therapy