What Is Physiotherapy Treatment?
Physiotherapists help people by assessing their physical conditions, diagnosing the underlying problem implementing a treatment plan. From injury to illness and disability, the therapist helps people of all ages to manage their pain through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice.
What Conditions Can a Physiotherapist Treat?
Concerned with both prevention and rehabilitation, physiotherapists offer treatment for problems caused by injury, ageing, disease or disability. Below are some examples of the conditions they treat:
- Problems in the bones, joints, muscles and ligaments, such as arthritis
- Pain in neck and back
- Disability as a result of heart problems
- Loss of mobility, whether it’s caused by a stroke or an accident
- Fatigue, pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of muscle strength
What to Expect at a Physiotherapy Session?
No physiotherapy treatment is the same. Since these treatments have to be tailored to each patient’s condition, it means that every session will be unique.
But every session follows a specific structure, which involves:
- The physiotherapist will ask you a series of questions to find out in as much detail as possible about your medical history. Questions will include asking when the problem started and where the injury was sustained.
- The therapist may ask you to have X-rays or other scans done.
- The therapist will then ask you to perform some basic movements, such as standing, sitting or lying, and observe you to assess and diagnose your condition.
- The therapist will give you a treatment plan and sets goals for you. The treatment plan may include manual therapies, such as:
- Soft tissue massage
- Applying direct pressure to an area and maintaining the pressure for some time. This is called the ‘trigger point therapy’.
- Applying pressure to the joints to increase movement.
- Placing very fine needs into the tissue.
- You will be prescribed a course of exercises, such as postural correction and exercise prescription.
- You may also be prescribed assistive devices, if necessary. An example of such a device is TENS.
I Suffer from Arthritis. How Can Physiotherapy Help?
When you suffer from arthritis, understanding how it affects you will help you better manage the condition. This is where a physiotherapist steps in. They will be able to help you to understand what happens to your joints and muscles when you have arthritis. Understanding your arthritis will help you to manage its effects.
Managing your pain
Pain caused by arthritis is not limited to one area of the body. Even though most people feel pain in a specific part of their body, it is not common for arthritis pain to be more widespread and affect joints and muscles.
Even though medications will help, you can better manage the pain with the help of a physiotherapist. Your therapist will offer you advice and will teach you other methods of pain relief that work alongside your medications. Some of the tips you’ll be given won’t require the supervision of the therapist and can be completed at home between appointments. These include:
- Apply ice packs on swollen joints to soothe the pain.
- Apply heat packs on tense and tired muscles to help relax them.
- The occupational therapist (OT) you are seeing may provide temporary splints for you. These splints are helpful for swollen or painful joints. These especially work during a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis.
- You may be given a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine so as to block pain messages to your brain. This small electronic device, also known as TENS, sends pulses to your nerve endings via pads placed on your skin and will alter your perception of pain. The tingling sensation that accompanies the treatment is often soothing to those suffering from arthritis.
Accessing Physiotherapy Services
If you believe physiotherapy, you can talk to your GP. Your GP will be able to refer you to a physiotherapist if they believe it’ll be helpful for your specific condition. You can also contact the consultant to the hospital physiotherapy department in your region for advice.
The other route available to you is making your own arrangements to see a physiotherapist without a doctor’s referral. Check with your GP whether there is physiotherapy department in your area that accepts self-referrals.
Finally, you can simply go to a private physiotherapist. This involves going to a private physiotherapy practice and is called ‘self-referring.’ Bear in mind that if you choose to self-refer, you will have to give a full medical history, including all diagnoses, medical care, treatments, allergies, and even the lack of need for medical care, to the physiotherapist at your first appointment. This information is crucial to ensure continuity of care for the patient. Depending on your condition and where you are, you can even call the physiotherapy department and get an assessment and advice over the phone.