Musculoskeletal physiotherapy

The musculoskeletal physiotherapists other physio's come to see

Pollinate Health physiotherapy is a specialist musculoskeletal practice. We provide a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis of musculoskeletal injuries, which are those relating to your bones, muscles, joints, soft tissues and nerves of the body.

Once we have fully assessed your condition, we adopt an evidence based approach to understand your goals, give you a proper diagnosis, develop a treatment plan and provide a clear time frame for recovery.

We use a range of different techniques to help you reach your goals, which might include joint and tissue mobilisation, massage, exercise, rehabilitation and education.

Finding solutions for your most your difficult injuries

Pollinate Health physiotherapists are experts at assisting patients with complex conditions that have not been improving with previous approaches.

We look at your scans and explain, in simple terms, what they mean. There’s nothing more confusing than having an MRI with all of these scary terms and no-one explaining them to you.

If we find your current scans don’t tell the full story, we discuss the option of further imaging so that we can put all of the pieces of the puzzle together for you.

This might even involve referring you to orthopaedics, a sports doctor or rheumatologist for specialist input.

What exactly is musculoskeletal physiotherapy?

Many people think that physiotherapy is a very general type of treatment and the average physiotherapist can assist with most conditions.

There are in fact many different areas of specialty in physiotherapy.

For example, women’s health physiotherapists deal with issues relating to a woman’s reproductive system, whereas vestibular physiotherapists help people who might have issues with being dizzy or off balance.

In the same way, musculoskeletal physiotherapists specialise in treating issues relating to bones, muscles, joints, soft tissues and nerves of the body.

When you choose your therapist, it is important to consider the level of expertise and post-graduate qualifications of the person you are visiting.

What is an 'advanced' musculoskeletal physiotherapist?

Physio’s who call themselves advanced physiotherapists have completed a master’s degree in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, which is post-graduate education. 

All general and advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapists may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practices, community centres, sports clinics and rehabilitation centres.

Advanced physiotherapists with post-graduate qualifications receive this title when they work in advanced roles in the hospital system. This could include working in the emergency departments or managing clinics linked to orthopaedic surgeons. In these clinics, advanced physio’s typically screen patients and recommend physiotherapy interventions where appropriate.

All general musculoskeletal physiotherapists are able to diagnose, manage and treat issues relating to the musculoskeletal system after undertaking a four-year degree in physiotherapy.

As a results of their post-graduate training and advanced responsibilities in the hospital system, an advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapist has developed advanced clinical reasoning and treatment planning.

Do Pollinate Health clinicians have advanced physiotherapy qualifications?

Our principal physiotherapist Jimmy Goulis is an advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapist.

He is well qualified to diagnose and treat your injury, regardless of whether it’s a simple, acute or chronic condition. Here are his qualifications and details of his study:

  • Graduate Certificate Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at La Trobe University: This certificate takes one year of full-time study to complete and is designed to help physio’s develop advanced skills in their field, including advanced clinical reasoning and evaluating and conducting research more effectively. This certificate is a pre-requisite for the full Masters Degree.
  • Masters degree in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at La Trobe University: This degree takes two years of full-time study to complete and focuses on evidence based practice. It is a combination of specialised learning modules and working under the supervision of other masters-qualified clinical leaders in the field.

Post-graduate programs help musculoskeletal physiotherapists to refine their research skills, as well as analyse and evaluate new studies. They use this information and evidence in their day-to-day practice.

Committing to evidence based practice means patients benefit from the most current developments and techniques.

Do musculoskeletal physiotherapists work in hospitals?

All physiotherapists can work in hospital departments including emergency, orthopaedics, neurology, cardiorespiratory, cancer care, cardiac care, geriatrics and rehabilitation.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists are found in the emergency and orthopaedic departments.

They commonly practice alongside doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals like dieticians and occupational therapists.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists also work with orthopaedic surgeons, radiologists, and sports medicine physicians, to comprehensively treat patients.

This cross-pollination offers musculoskeletal physiotherapists the unique opportunity to develop advanced skills.

As a result, many physio’s take a multidisciplinary approach to treatment and provide the best possible care for their patients.

Pollinate Heath’s Jimmy Goulis also works in two busy emergency departments in Melbourne, and brings the high-level skills from these role into his private practice.

It’s unusual to find this level of skill hiding away in your local suburban physio practice!

Can chiropractors and osteopaths work in hospitals?

No, chiropractors and osteopaths are not allowed to work in hospitals and you will find them in private practice.

Is there more to musculoskeletal physiotherapy than hands-on treatment?

Many people think musculoskeletal physiotherapists mainly treat people using manual therapy, like pressing or massaging the bones in the neck and back.

It turns out the skillset and role of a musculoskeletal physiotherapist is a lot broader and takes a more nuanced approach.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists have an in-depth knowledge of the body’s anatomy. A good musculoskeletal physiotherapist will be highly experienced in:

Assessing and diagnosing your condition.

Understanding your goals.

Providing you with an achievable treatment plan.

Offering you a clear time-frame for recovery.

In addition, a skilled musculoskeletal physiotherapist will have a wide range of diagnostic skills and techniques that they bring to every consultation with you.

What are the common techniques used by musculoskeletal physiotherapists?

The common techniques used by skilled musculoskeletal physiotherapists can be divided into (1) diagnosis and (2) treatment.

How a physiotherapist might assess you

Questioning you

Before a physio commences treatment, it’s important that they understand the exact nature of your problem. The first part of this process involves thoroughly understanding your complaint, its presentation, and history. As part of process, they will ask questions to rule out medical conditions as the cause of your injury. For example, is your knee pain being caused by gout (a medical condition) rather than an issue with your muscles, tendons, ligaments or bones in the area?

Assessing you physically

The second part of this process involves the physio physically examining you. Although the focus of this assessment is usually the primary area of concern, the physio will also assess your general musculoskeletal system and overall function.

To help form a true picture of your condition, musculoskeletal physiotherapists use their:

  • comprehensive understanding of anatomy,
  • understanding of how the musculoskeletal system functions, and
  • their knowledge of various conditions and their clinical presentations.

Assessment techniques may also include biomechanical, ergonomic, and sport-specific technique correction. These are all approaches used to analyse and improve the way the human body moves during different activities.

  • Biomechanical technique correction: This involves the analysis of the way the body moves during functional activities such as walking, running, jumping, or lifting weights. This analysis may be done through video or motion analysis, your physio will identify any abnormal movement patterns or muscle imbalances. They will then provide exercises or interventions to correct these issues and improve movement efficiency.
  • Ergonomic technique correction: This involves analysing the way you perform a specific task or activity, such as typing, lifting, or sitting at a desk. The goal of ergonomic correction is to reduce the risk of injury and strain on the body by adjusting the environment or equipment to fit your needs. This may include adjusting the height of a desk, changing the position of a computer monitor, or using specialised equipment.
  • Sport-specific technique correction: This involves analysing the specific movements and techniques used in a particular sport or activity, such as a golf swing or basketball shot. The goal of sport-specific technique correction is to improve performance and reduce the risk of sports injuries by optimising the movement patterns used in that sport. This may involve video analysis, drills and exercises, and coaching on proper form and technique.

Overall, the goal of all these techniques is to optimise movement efficiency, reduce the risk of injury, and improve performance, whether in daily activities or in sports and exercise.

A proper diagnosis takes time. At Pollinate Health, we offer a 45-minute initial appointment, which is longer than industry standard, for this very purpose.

How a physiotherapist might treat you

Musculoskeletal physiotherapists use a range of evidence based manual techniques to treat patients. These techniques aim to mobilise, manipulate, and massage the body so that normal functioning returns, pain decreases, and range of movement improves.

Some of the most common techniques that musculoskeletal physiotherapists employ include:

Manual therapy

This includes the following techniques:

  • Soft tissue mobilisation: Soft tissues refer to the muscles, tendons, and fascia or connective tissues. Manipulation of the soft tissues involves the physio using their hands (or other device) to gently apply pressure to the affected area. This can help reduce pain and discomfort, decrease scar tissue, alleviate muscle tension, and minimise swelling.
  • Joint mobilisation: Joint mobilisation can be helpful when recovering from various injuries. Long periods of immobilisation are a joint’s worst enemy, and can lead to a reduction in the joint’s range of movement, ongoing stiffness, and pain. By oscillating the joint, the physiotherapist is looking to improve movement and minimise pain. Advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapists have the training to understand when it is appropriate and the level of force that should be applied.

Dry needling

Dry needling is a technique used by physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. It involves inserting thin needles through the skin and into trigger points or muscle knots, in order to release tension and alleviate pain.

Unlike acupuncture, which is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and uses specific meridian points, dry needling targets trigger points, which are areas of tightness and sensitivity in the muscles.

During a dry needling session, the therapist will insert the needles into the trigger points and manipulate them to create a local twitch response. This twitch response is believed to release the tension in the muscle, increase blood flow, and promote healing.

Dry needling is generally considered safe, but like any medical procedure, it does carry some risks, including bleeding, infection, and nerve damage. It is important to only receive dry needling from a trained and licensed healthcare professional.

Exercise therapy

Specific exercises are used to improve strength, flexibility, and overall function. This includes stretching, strengthening, and cardiovascular exercises.


Modalities such as shockwave therapy and heat and/or cold therapies can also be used to reduce pain and inflammation


Rehabilitation assists those recovering from injury or surgery to regain function and independence.


Hydrotherapy can be used for people who find it too painful to exercise on land.

Using water exercises and aquatic therapy means the buoyancy of water reduces the weight placed on joints, which makes them effective for conditions such as severe osteoarthritis or for those recovering from joint replacement surgery or people with bad fractures or experiencing a lot of pain after surgery .

Hydrotherapy can also help improve range of motion, strength, and overall function.

What conditions are treated by musculoskeletal physiotherapists?

The types of conditions that musculoskeletal physiotherapists treat can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Orthopaedic conditions and injuries: These are the conditions and injuries that affect your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. They include fractures, dislocations, sprains, and strains.
  • Sports-related injuries: This category refers to injuries that occur while participating or training in sports and other physical activities. Most of these injuries are also orthopaedic injuries. (You can also see a sports physiotherapist or sports doctor for sporting injuries)
  • Neurological conditions: Patients with conditions that cause the nervous system to degenerate, especially those that impact on movement and mobility are often treated by musculoskeletal physiotherapists. (You may need to see a neuro physio for certain conditions).
  • Spinal conditions: Musculoskeletal physiotherapists can help alleviate pain while improving function in a number of conditions that affect the spine including lower back pain, upper back pain, neck pain and sciatica.
  • Post-surgery rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal physiotherapists play a key role restoring function and mobility after surgery ranging from common orthopaedic procedures such as joint replacement, to rotator cuff repair and spinal surgery to surgery for complex medical conditions where movement has been impacted.
  • Acute and chronic pain: Patients living with, both acute pain that is often the result of a traumatic injury, and chronic pain such as back or neck pain and related conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis are common presentations for musculoskeletal physiotherapists.
  • Overuse conditions: These conditions typically occur over time as a result of wear and tear on the musculoskeletal system. They include repetitive strain injuries that occur at work, such as back pain caused by heavy lifting or capal tunnel syndrome, overuse injuries, such as tennis or golf elbow, and the wear and tear associated with ageing.

What other types of physiotherapy are there?

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy is just one of the branches of physiotherapy. The other specialist areas include:

  • Women’s health physiotherapy focuses on issues relating to the female reproductive system, including core strengthening, pelvic floor exercises, techniques for giving birth, and control of urinary function.
  • Sports physiotherapy which specialises on sport’s injuries, rehabilitation, reconditioning, exercise programs, and training.
  • Vestibular physiotherapy focuses on your overall balance and aims to increase physical function, and improve core strength.
  • Paediatric physiotherapy relates to the growth and development of children, including strengthening muscles and improving motor skills. (Pollinate Health treats children’s general musculoskeletal injuries).
  • Geriatric physiotherapy focuses on techniques that assist with balance and core strength to maintain function and quality of life as you age.
  • Cardiorespiratory physiotherapy is key when rehabilitating following heart and lung surgery and assists in management of shortness of breath and other chronic conditions.

    Some of the conditions treated by these specialities are also commonly treated by musculoskeletal physiotherapists.

Pollinate Health physiotherapists are members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association

Pollinate Health practitioners are members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). Members of the APA benefit from focused online and face-to-face professional development opportunities, access to the latest research and publications, mentoring by more experienced physiotherapists, and a variety of tools and resources designed to support both them and their practice.

What are benefits of seeing an advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapist?

Patients experience a number of benefits when they visit Pollinate Health’s musculoskeletal physiotherapy practice. Seeing someone who specialises in this area of physiotherapy means that you receive relevant and up-to-date treatment for your injury. Further benefits include:

  • Reducing you pain and discomfort.
  • Helping you return to normal function.
  • Minimising scar tissue.
  • Properly rehabilitating you following an injury or surgery.
  • Educating you on how to manage your injuries.
  • Assisting in the prevention of future injuries.
  • Decreasing recovery times following injuries.
  • Rebuilding strength.
  • Helping you build overall fitness.

Why choose a musculoskeletal physiotherapist at Pollinate Health?

At Pollinate Health, we treat patients with a broad range of musculoskeletal conditions. Our physio has completed post-graduate study in the field and is committed to working with you to provide a management and treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and needs. Our team takes the opportunity to get to know you, how you live and the challenges you are facing. Our hands-on, thorough approach ensures we take into consideration all aspects of your health when working with you. If you’re looking for a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, contact us today. Our team of professionals will work with you to manage your injury and getting back on track to recovery.