Massage vs. Acupuncture vs. Osteopathy

Massage Therapy vs. Acupuncture vs. Osteopathy – What’s the Difference?

Massage therapy, acupuncture, and osteopathy have a lot in common. Not all clinics in Edmonton have the range to offer all three services, but Therapeutic Body Concepts has experts in each of these treatment types. A lot of our clients wonder which service they should choose and what the benefits are. There are a few key differences, so it’s good to know what each service is capable of before you book. 

What Are Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Osteopathy?

All three of these services are dedicated to treating pain and physical ailments using different techniques and tools.

In massage therapy, your body’s soft tissue is manipulated using tools or manually with the massage therapist’s hands, elbows, and sometimes other body parts (feet and knees).

In acupuncture, your acupuncturist will insert very thin needles into specific points in your body to restore energy, balance and promote healing. 

Osteopathy is new to most people, so we get the most questions about how it works. Osteopathy is similar to massage therapy, but has a wider scope and a goal of whole-body healing. It includes specific techniques such as cranial-sacral work, fascial work, and visceral manipulation. Osteopathy tends to work on a “systems” level; it impacts the various muscles, organs, tissues, and fluid pathways that make up your body.

Everything You Need to Know About These Treatments

Massage Therapy

What Is It?

Massages are a versatile service that serve different purposes for different people. Many different types of massages exist to treat your needs as best as possible. These range from deep tissue massages (used to treat health conditions like arthritis, or frozen shoulder) to lymphatic drainage (which improves energy and boosts your immune system) to a light massage used for detoxification and relaxation. 

How It Helps

Massages are often used to address a specific problem, like pain in a certain area of the body, or for general relaxation. Beyond relaxation, massages also improve your circulation, release nerve compression, increase flexibility, improve mental health, and ease soreness and pains. There are also massages designed to help with specific issues or requests, including sports massages, motor vehicle accident massages, and pregnancy massages.


What Is It?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese form of medicine dating back 3000 years. Fine needles are inserted into specific parts of the body, referred to as acupoints and are placed along lines in your body called Meridian Lines. This promotes a natural form of self-healing for your body. Herbal supplements can be used with acupuncture to maximize its effects and your Acupuncturist will recommend these on a case-by-case basis. Acupuncturists often also use tools like cupping, tuning forks, or heat therapy to maximize the benefits of their treatments.

How It Helps

By stimulating the acupuncture points and meridian lines of the body, acupuncture can improve your bodily functions and overall health in multiple ways. Acupuncture can improve your circulation, decrease inflammation, relieve stress and tension, and reduce pain to leave you more comfortable and relaxed. 

Acupuncture is based around the concept of chi (or qi). Your chi is made up of the life forces yin and yang, and if they are unbalanced, your chi becomes disrupted and it negatively effects your body. By using the proper acupuncture points, you’ll be rebalancing your chi to relieve pain and increase comfort.


What Is It?

Osteopathy shares a lot in common with massage therapy, but is different in some ways. It envelops a broad range of different modalities and very thorough assessments and testing. Massage therapists trained in osteopathy have a wider skill set. Osteopathy also has a greater focus on treating complaints on every level – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. By working deep into the systems that make up your body, osteopathy can help work at a causal level, rather than a symptom level. 

Osteopathy involves the use of methods called Craniosacral Therapy, Myofascial Release, Visceral Manipulation and also Joint Mobilizations. Your practitioner will choose which treatments your body needs at each session, either combining them, or providing one over the others.

How It Helps

There are different osteopathic techniques that a therapist can use to achieve different effects. Visceral manipulation involves massaging the abdomen to relieve tension in the organs, or viscera. Myofascial release eases pain and stiffness in damaged fascia. Cranio-sacral therapy is focused on improving wellbeing and health, and uses a light touch to circulate cerebrospinal fluid through the body. Every form of osteopathy comes with a different set of benefits and it’s important to discuss your options with your therapist.

Find Out More About Which Service is Right for You

With such a wide variety of services, choosing just one can be difficult. However, all of our massage, osteopathy, and acupuncture services offer multiple benefits, and you’ll have no problem finding a treatment that suits you perfectly. 

If you’re curious about what treatment would be best for you, get in touch with us directly for an assessment. We’ll help you with choosing, booking, and preparing for your treatment.

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