Many people lump physiotherapy into the same category as less proven “alternative treatments” and it’s also confused with massage or chiropractic therapy.
But physiotherapy is different and this is the story of a physio patient, Susan, in her own words.
“It was the prospect of being forced to give up cooking that made me try physiotherapy. My hands and wrists had ached ever since I’d binged on note taking by hand and on my computer at college.
“My doctor gave me a blood test to rule out arthritis, but she had no idea what to do next. My husband, Andrew, had been urging me for years to try physiotherapy, but I assumed I had the kind of permanent damage that nothing short of surgery could address.
“However, I knew that if my hands got much worse, I wouldn’t be able to cook—or make a living as a writer—so I finally made an appointment with a physiotherapist.
“The results are hard to exaggerate. I left that first session with a diagnosis of tendonitis and instructions for three stretches.
“The exercises were easy but they relieved so much muscular tension that I looked forward to my thrice-daily ritual. In weekly sessions at the clinic my physiotherapist stretched my shortened muscles and added strengthening exercises to curtail future problems.
“I experienced some pain relief within days and a near-total return to normal after just two months.
“I realised that physiotherapy can even treat long-term problems, and that I wasn’t looking at months and months of expensive treatment—in my case and many others, appointments taper off rapidly once the problem is identified and at-home exercises begin.”
Here are some of the ways that physiotherapy can treat a variety of conditions and diseases.
It can help bad knees
A study in Canada showed that physiotherapy combined with medication was just as effective as arthroscopic surgery in treating osteoarthritic knees.
“Many arthritic joints are helped by work on flexibility and strength,” says study co-author Dr Robert Litchfield, an Orthopaedic surgeon and the Medical Director of the University of Western Ontario.
Physiotherapists can often remove the source of the knee pain by identifying a cause such as muscle weakness around the knee, and treating it with exercises or stretching.
“We do a biomechanical assessment looking at everything from muscle tightness or weakness to how joints in the area move” explains physiotherapist Kerensa McKie of Physio & Therapies.
“Based on that, we’ll prescribe an appropriate course of action that may include exercise to calm the inflamed joint or muscle or address the factors contributing to the problem.”
If the problem derives from an imbalanced gait our podiatrists can prescribe orthotics (shoe inserts that correct alignment problems).
It can relieve chronic pain
Depending on the cause, a program of physiotherapy can ease chronic pain by strengthening the muscles that surround painful joints or muscles.
It can cure back pain
Problems such as poor posture, muscle strain or arthritis can cause back pain. Treatment will depend on the source of the problem, but some common principles apply. We advise a three-fold approach: joint mobilisation (to improve mobility and increase blood flow into the area), muscle strengthening (to improve mobility and reduce recurrence) and re-education of posture through exercises including pilates.
How to make Physiotherapy work for you
Stretches and strengthening exercises done at home are crucial to treating most problems.
Lots of patients want a quick fix but it takes time and practice to stretch or retrain muscles that have a long-established bad habit. However doing so can prevent a recurrence of the injury.
As physiotherapists we have the potential to keep our aging population mobile and healthy – often with relatively simple hand on treatment and exercises
Please don’t accept pain as the norm – book an appointment to see how we can help you by calling our team on 01706 819464.