Should I have physio or a massage for back pain? What is the difference?

Back pain is a common issue that many of us experience at some point in life. In most cases, if the pain comes from your lower back, the problem originates from a muscle or ligament that has been torn or pulled or leg pain issues, such as discomfort when weight is put on one of your legs. Pain can also originate from discs and pressure on nerves and Sciatica is a common condition.

Lifting heavy items incorrectly is also known to cause back pain. This includes lifting weights the wrong way at the gym or even general items around the house. Other common ways back pain is caused are from ageing, lack of exercise, extreme weight and more. 

It is not uncommon for massage therapists and physiotherapists to be confused with one another. Massage therapists and physiotherapists are two different professions with a lot in common but differ in some areas. In the case of both types of therapies, the goal is to enhance your body’s range of motion and reduce any discomfort or pain you may be experiencing.

What are the differences between massage and physiotherapy?

Massage therapy

Massage Therapy applies pressure on muscles and joints with massage tools to reduce stress, prevent injury, and promote healing. Massage therapy has been used for many centuries as a form of treatment by ancient cultures like China and India. Today massage therapy continues to be a popular choice among athletes, people who have chronic pain or are recovering from an injury.

Massage therapy is often chosen as the appropriate treatment when the client is in need of immediate relief for pain and discomfort and might be the right choice for you if you:

  • Require immediate soft tissue muscle and joint pain relief
  • Are in need of relaxation due to high levels of stress
  • Feel you have some knots/ muscle tension
  • Need to decompress tired and overworked muscles


Physiotherapy is one of the most widely used forms of treatment adopted for gaining relief for back pain. It is used in both modes, as a single line of treatment as well as in combination with other treatments such as massage, heat, traction, and ultrasound.

Physiotherapists look at the source of the pain and aim to break down treatment into short term and long-term goals. It is not necessarily a quick fix with massage. Massage can often be very useful to help pain relief, but physiotherapists are trained differently to masseuses to manage pain relief. 

Physiotherapy might be the right choice if you:

  • Vehicle accident
  • Had surgery and are in need of rehabilitation
  • Are looking to incorporate more physical activity into your life and require better motion
  • Want to learn how to prevent injuries
  • Are looking to increase range of motion and/or manage an existing condition

The decision between physiotherapy and massage therapy will ultimately depend on your specific condition and symptoms. If you are not sure which service is right for you, please contact us at Home Physio Group for more information on 0330 335 1016 or alternatively please fill out our contact sheet and we will get back to you.

Meet our physios

All our physiotherapists are registered with the CSP and HCPC offering the highest standard of care

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You can discuss your requirements with one of our specialist case managers

Why choose Home Physio Group?

We are a dedicated team of Chartered Physiotherapists working exclusively in your home and providing the highest level of care. We recognise the importance of knowing that you are in safe hands and being looked after. With this is mind, our client management team are here to assist you every step of the way and will answer any questions you may have. We are passionate about helping you to reach your goals, relieve your pain, and improve your mobility.

The benefits of using our service include:

  • All our physiotherapists are hand-picked professionals with years of experience
  • We are registered with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). All our physiotherapists are checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) 
  • We will arrange visits in your own home (or care home or place of work) at a convenient time to you
  • We work at speed and do not have a waiting list
  • We offer daytime, evening and weekend appointments
  • Our team work closely with the country’s leading consultants and specialists in their field
  • You will always have the same physiotherapist visiting you at home
  • You can have as many visits as you require
  • Our fixed pricing structure can be provided in writing so that you can consider it in your own time
  • We believe there is no “one size fits all” approach to care. Your personalised programme and treatment strategy will be unique to you