You may visit a physiotherapist for a variety of reasons, both preventative and therapeutic. The number of appointments you require with the physiotherapist will usually depend on the severity of your injury and the progress of your recovery.
Reasons for visiting Physiotherapists
If you wish, you may visit a physiotherapist for preventative advice before an injury occurs, for instance, to set up your workplace ergonomically. Ergonomics is the process of designing workplaces or products to fit the people that use them, so there is minimal strain on the muscles being used, and physiotherapists are trained in this field. Another reason for making an appointment could be that you feel your shoulders are becoming hunched and you need advice on exercises to help fix your posture. For some people with on-going motor (movement) problems, such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis sufferers, visits to the physiotherapist may occur often throughout their lifetime. The continuing help and advice the physio gives them and their carers may assist them with movement, help them to write, to use a knife and fork, to talk more clearly and learn other skills required for ease of movement. Physiotherapists can help with stroke patients. After a stroke, patients usually have movement problems. They might have problems sitting, standing or walking, holding a pen and writing, their physical presentation might be different and one side of their face may be droopy, there could be problems with their sight, speech, memory and bladder control. Through retraining the muscles to relearn basic movements, physios can help with the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Depending on the severity of the stroke and how much work is involved will determine the amount of visits required to the physio, although in most cases it is likely to be a fairly lengthy process.
A visit to the physio may result in recommendations to alter your lifestyle to incorporate a good diet and a sensible approach to exercise, work, rest and play. A healthy lifestyle at any age will mean a stronger and more flexible body that is less prone to physical injury and hopefully avoid visits to the physiotherapist in the future.
During your first consultation with the physiotherapist, your condition will be assessed, your history taken and advice given on a treatment plan. Your therapist will be able to give you a rough estimate of how many times you will need to visit them and how often. Depending on the severity of your problem, you may need to see the physio quite a lot to begin with, especially if your injury or pain is acute. A regular strain or injury may require a few consultations, usually a couple of days apart to begin with, gradually increasing the time in between visits until you are back to normal function and the pain has just about gone. This may take weeks or, if the injury is severe, months. A treatment could be anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes, although the first treatment would usually take longer than the following sessions.
At home treatment
The rate at which you heal is also dependent on following up your treatment with homework. The physio will advise you on what you should do at home to supplement your treatment. This could include exercises, stretches or heat and ice therapy. If you continue with this recommended treatment at home, then you can expect to heal more quickly and need to visit the physiotherapist less frequently.
Identifying the cause of the injury
The physiotherapist should be able to identify the cause of the problem, such as bad posture or a workplace setup that is causing strain on your back or other muscles. The physio may advise on how to improve these matters to prevent your injury recurring. Of course, if you don’t remove the cause of the problem, you can expect it to recur and more physiotherapist visits will follow.
If you are suffering from pain or injury or need advice on muscular injury or other matters, please see your physiotherapist for more information.