What is an APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist?

Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists pride themselves to be at the forefront of evidence-based practice. There are over 22 000 registered physiotherapists in Australia. Of these, around 800 have attained the highly regarded title of APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist. The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is the peak representative body of the profession. They regard Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists as “world-leaders in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of muscle and joint problems, especially low back and neck pain.”

To be awarded this title, physiotherapists need to pass a series of examinations. Typically, they would have attained post-graduate qualifications in the form of a Masters Degree. This is one of the oldest titles awarded by the APA, and has been around for over 30 years. They were previously known as Manipulative Physiotherapists.

What techniques do Musculoskeletal Physiotherapists use?

The title of Manipulative Physiotherapist was changed because it created an incorrect perception that joint manipulation was always used.

My opinion is that joint manipulation may at times be a useful adjunct to other techniques. Generally, however, more gentle techniques are trialled first, such as joint mobilisation and soft tissue massage. If a direction of mobilisation is found to be of benefit, it is often useful to prescribe an exercise that mimics this so that the mobilisation can also be incorporated into a home program. I am also competent in the application of acupuncture through further post-graduate studies.

Electric modalities such as ultrasound and TENS are used sparingly due to a lack of scientific evidence to support its efficacy.