What Is a Musculoskeletal Therapist?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2019
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A musculoskeletal therapist is a physician who has received specialized training for treating injuries or disease relating to the musculoskeletal system. This generally includes treatment for conditions afflicting the spine, as well as nerves, muscles, and joints. The musculoskeletal therapist instructs patients on how to perform various exercises to strengthen musculoskeletal structure or relieve pain. This type of therapist is also trained to educate patients about strategies to improve a their condition.

Musculoskeletal disorders may result from congenital birth defects, disease, or injury. A patient may be referred to a musculoskeletal therapist by his primary care physician. The patient will typically undergo physical therapy under the supervision of his therapist.

Depending on the patient's specific disorder or condition, the musculoskeletal therapist may perform various techniques. One form of therapy to relieve pain from arthritis or fibromyalgia is known as massage therapy. This technique involves deep tissue massage to the neck and shoulders. In conjunction with massage, the musculoskeletal therapist may also identify problems causing pain, such as poor posture. He may also instruct the patient on how to use proper ergonomics at work.

Many musculoskeletal therapists specialize in sports medicine and treat sports-related injuries. This may include fractures, sprains or conditions such as tendinitis. Therapists may also develop exercise routines to strengthen muscles and tendons in patients suffering from repetitive-motion stress injuries.


Patients suffering from chronic tension or migraine headaches often seek treatment from a musculoskeletal therapist. Some therapists may implement a form of psychosomatic therapy for these patients. This is also known as mind-body therapy, and may be combined with massage.

Musculoskeletal therapists also treat patients who are suffering from poor circulation. The therapist may implement ways to increase blood circulation to various areas of the body that are affected by pain or immobility. This often includes the shoulders, upper or lower back, and knees.

Holistic or alternative medicine is another method that many musculotherapists practice. Herbal remedies may be recommended or prescribed by this type of therapist. Additionally, the therapist may recommend meditation for his patients.

Therapists who treat injuries of the musculoskeletal system also practice a method known as dry needle therapy. In this type of treatment, dry needles are used to correct conditions involving the muscles or tendons. Chronic tendinitis and injuries such as whiplash may be helped through this treatment. This is generally performed in conjunction with other forms of physical therapy.


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