DO I NEED PHYSIOTHERAPY?
WILL A PHYSIOTHERAPIST MAKE ME BETTER?
Physiotherapy can either be used for rehabilitation post injury or surgery, for maintenance of long term conditions, or for improving general wellbeing. Areas covered are as follows:
Musculoskeletal Injury - physiotherapy can help diagnose, treat and promote healing
Pre-operatively - physiotherapy can prescribe exercises to build on muscle strength for faster recovery post surgery
Post-operatively - each surgery is different, but you will often lose muscle strength through surgical incisions and reduced usage. Physiotherapy can help expedite recovery, whilst using manual and/or electrotherapy to facilitate high quality healing for a more successful outcome.
Poor mobility/falling - if you are finding your balance deteriorating with or without falls, physiotherapy can improve your mobility and reduce risk of falls. Often after a period of illness, hospital stay/bed rest or with age, your muscles weaken and this can have a huge impact on your mobility. Physiotherapy will complete a comprehensive falls assessment to find the underlying cause of the falls (whether it is mechanical or medical, i.e. low blood pressure/fainting) and prescribe an exercise programme if appropriate to improve strength and balance
Neurological - physiotherapy can help maintain and/or build on muscle strength for the management or rehabilitation of neurological conditions. Although many neurological conditions are progressive and cannot be 'treated', physiotherapy can help reduce contractures and muscle wastage, and recovery post stroke.
Respiratory - management of long-term respiratory conditions such as COPD are usually overseen by a specialist respiratory team. However, if you have a primary neuro/musculoskeletal problem and additionally struggling with management of shortness of breath or sputum clearance, advice and exercises can be given around this (any acute onset or sudden change in symptoms should be consulted with your GP)
That is entirely up to you! Many people see a physiotherapist and expect a massage, or for their bones to be 'put back in'. Although massage and joint manipulations are a part of physiotherapy, they are very rarely a 'cure' and often not even used. National guidelines are moving away from diagnosis of an exact condition, as truth be told many conditions present with similar symptoms and pain is so subjective, physiotherapists may have a good indication of the problem but it is impossible to know for sure without a scan - even then this may show problems that are non-painful when the problem is something entirely different. Therefore, the initial assessment will consist of questioning around your problem, lifestyle and medical history, followed by a physical examination to identify the most likely cause and formulate a treatment plan.
The treatment plan will sometimes include massage, joint manipulations, electrotherapy and passive movements, but the main treatment is usually advice around managing and improving your condition, and exercises. Another common phrase we hear is "the physio just gave me exercises". To heal your body, you must work your body. No matter how much treatment you have from the outside, the only way to truly make it better, is to treat it from the inside. To improve the range of movement in a limb, you must move the limb. To improve the strength in a muscle, you must use the muscle. A physiotherapist has a high level of knowledge around healing processes and which exercises to do at which stage of healing, as well as identifying weak or tight muscle groups that may be the cause of your pain. For physiotherapy to be successful, you must complete the exercises up to 3 times a day if they have been prescribed.