Physiotherapists are movement specialists. People visit a physiotherapist for assessment and treatment of muscular injuries such as back pain, sporting injuries and other physical conditions. Does physiotherapy work?
What to expect from your first treatment
The role of the physiotherapist is not only to treat the injury, but also to find out the cause and devise a plan to prevent it happening again in the future. The first treatment with the physio is likely to relieve some of the pain, but it is important that you do your “homework” to speed up the healing process. Your homework could include exercises, stretches and maybe even some heat or ice therapy. You may also be advised as to how to prevent the injury occurring again in the future.
Lifestyle changes such as beginning an exercise program, adopting the correct posture when sitting, standing or sleeping and setting up your workplace ergonomically might be required. If you don’t change the cause of the injury, in all likelihood it will happen again.
How to tell if it’s working
Depending on the severity of your injury, it may take more than one visit to see results. Ask your therapist how long the recommended course of treatment will be and how many visits are required. You know it is working for you when the pain reduces or disappears after treatment and positive action taken to prevent it recurring is successful.
Contact your local physiotherapist if you are suffering from muscular pain and discuss your treatment options and plan of management.
What problems can a Physiotherapist help with?
Physiotherapists are health care professionals who use massage and manipulation to promote health and well-being. They are found in private practice, in hospitals, in medical centres and sports clinics. They may work alone or in collaboration with doctors or other health care providers. Physiotherapists not only treat the pain or injury but find out the cause and where possible, advise on how to prevent it happening again. What problems can a physiotherapist help with?
Just about any condition that affects physical movement can be helped by a physiotherapist. Physios are well known for their work treating patients who are suffering pain as a result of a sporting injury, back or neck pain (like whiplash) and other muscular injury, e.g. from a car accident. Physios help people regain their normal movement after accident, injury or illness by training the muscles and surrounding ligaments, nerves and joints to work together effectively.
Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis
Some people are faced with movement disorders from birth, such as patients with cerebral palsy. Patients with cerebral palsy can suffer from poor motor (movement) co-ordination, their muscles can be stiff and tight or they may have shaky movements or tremors. Hydrotherapy is one popular form of treatment for patients with cerebral palsy. Multiple sclerosis patients also suffer from poor motor control, stiffness and tremors. Physiotherapy is recommended to help them also.
After a stroke, patients usually have movement problems. They might have difficulties with 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 training the muscles to relearn basic movements, physios can help with the rehabilitation of stroke patients.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis
Physios can help ease the pain of osteoporosis and arthritis sufferers by providing exercises, hydrotherapy, massage and/or Pilates classes to help keep the joints moving effectively.
Physiotherapists help with workplace injury and advise on posture and ergonomics. Ergonomics involves setting up the workplace or desk so that minimal strain is placed on the workers’ muscles and prevents repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Bad posture can cause back and muscular strain. Physiotherapists can assess your posture and advise on how to correct it.
Pregnancy can put a great deal of strain on a woman’s back. Physiotherapists can relieve the pain and advise on ways to sleep, rest and otherwise minimise the strain on the woman’s body during pregnancy. They can advise on exercises to assist with recovery after gynaecological surgery, or with the embarrassing but common problem of incontinence after giving birth.
Physiotherapy can provide relief from asthma. As the lungs get moving and receive more air, they get stronger and this helps prevent the onset of asthma attacks. Asthma therapy is graded according to the fitness of the sufferer and severity of the asthma condition.
Physiotherapists are also employed in rehabilitation after surgery or long periods of bed rest. They are also employed in intensive care removing secretions from the lungs of patients. Physios treat head and spinal injuries. They assist with the use of prostheses or substitute limbs so that patients can lead normal, active lives.
Physios are often employed to assist with the relief of lymphoedema after damage to the lymph nodes following breast cancer treatment.
Physios assist with the treatment of mental illness by providing advice on the incorporation of healthy lifestyle programs such as exercise and relaxation, which in turn promotes good mental health.
Physiotherapists can provide pain relief through methods such as massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy and manipulation.
There are many conditions, either temporary or ongoing, that can benefit from physiotherapy. Contact your local physiotherapist or family doctor for more advice on recommended treatment.