The role of a Physiotherapist is to promote, preserve or restore an individual’s physical health through a myriad of treatment options. Most people tend to think Physiotherapists only work with athletes and muscular-related injuries, and although this is true, Physiotherapists offer a much wider variety of services for those of varying physical abilities. Physiotherapists not only help with current issues but can provide support and education to help prevent the recurrence of injury.
Physiotherapists use these services to diagnose and treat causes of acute (new) or chronic (long-lasting) pain or issues. Physiotherapists use a variety of hands-on treatment techniques, as well as clinical exercise options to address and abolish your pain so you can move and live without pain!
Here are some of the most common reasons we have people come into our clinics for Physiotherapy:
Joint Related Problems
We have hundreds of joints in our body, which at any stage of life can experience a range of problems. Some joints that you may be familiar with are your shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists. Our joints are constantly being used in our busy daily lives, so it’s important to make sure we keep them healthy and functioning. Stiffness, pain, clicking, locking or loss of movement range are some common symptoms you may be feeling if your joints aren’t working properly.
Physiotherapists play an important role in the management of joint disorders such as arthritis or osteoarthritis by offering individualised exercise programs and sometimes physical bracing/support to get you back doing what you love without pain or worry.
Chronic/Acute Back Pain
Have you ever woken up with a stiff and sore back, persistent back pain, felt your back ‘go out’, or had some sharp pains in your back with tingling or pain down your leg? You are not alone! Low back pain is quite common in our society and unfortunately one of the most debilitating problems. Pain in the low back or sciatica (low back nerve dysfunction) can be caused by and persist due to many factors and may even be from another area altogether.
Physiotherapists use detailed examination to identify contributing factors and the structures involved and affected by your pain – some of which include sitting postures, muscular imbalances, or reduced back mobility. Physiotherapists will address and treat these causes to alleviate your pain and reduce the chances of it happening again.
Headaches can be incredibly debilitating, especially when we are living busy lives and although stress is expected throughout life, headaches certainly are not and often won’t go away on their own. Persistent headaches can stem for a number of reasons, but the most common is from physical sources such as poor sitting posture, sustained head/neck positions, or stiff joints in the neck and back.
There are many types of headaches, so where and when you feel them is particularly important. Physiotherapists use this information – such as triggers, severity, and location – to better understand the source of your headaches. This information is used to guide treatment, where Physiotherapists can offer immediate treatment to reduce or end your headache.
Whether you are an elite athlete or playing your first ever game of mixed social netball over the weekend, injuries during sport are common and should be addressed so you can perform at your peak. Early or immediate treatment of acute sports injuries often gives you the best chance to get back to sport. Depending on your injury, a Physiotherapist will give you the best recommendations and treatment to help you to achieve this.
Physiotherapy care extends from before to after the birth of your newborn. Our clinically trained women’s health Physiotherapists can help you with problems you face such as pre/post-natal issues, pelvic organ prolapse, abdominal tearing and incontinence to improve your confidence and health. These problems are quite common, as during the pregnancy cycle a number of stressors impact the mother’s body such as stretching and increased demands on muscles, changes to centre of gravity/posture and hormonal changes to muscles. Physiotherapy led exercise classes and treatment sessions help to strengthen and re-train these areas you may be having difficulty with.
In the presence of an injury, exercise whether at a gym or home can be somewhat dangerous depending on the injury and may even be making your injury worse! Physiotherapists can provide advice/appraisal and prescribe evidence-based exercise programs to not only reduce aggravation of your injury but help strengthen relevant areas to reduce your pain or problem.
Common Misconceptions About Physiotherapists
Above are some of the common injuries/issues we see on a daily basis and I hope it has given you a better understanding of the role of Physiotherapy in helping you. With that said, there are many misconceptions about the role of Physiotherapy which may be holding you back from the numerous positive benefits we can offer you!
Here are a few examples:
'I should only go & see a Physio if I’m in pain or something is wrong'
Yes, this is in part true as many musculoskeletal injuries require Physiotherapy input to reduce pain and improve, but often these are the results of movement patterns and postures which have led to something gone wrong. A Physiotherapist guided rehabilitation process can help you get back to moving and feeling – but they can help do that even when an injury isn’t present! If you want to improve your walking or running movement pattern, exercise techniques, workplace posture, or general mobility, Physiotherapy can work with you to achieve your goals in the absence of injury or pain.
‘Physiotherapy Is Painful’
Our role is to alleviate pain, injury, and discomfort to improve your function and quality of life. Some of our treatment techniques may be uncomfortable at first, but none of them should be painful and often are necessary to help you achieve your goals.
'Physiotherapists Only Work On My Muscles'
This is a myth! Including some of the areas which are mentioned above, we treat a variety of areas such as: Nerves, spinal discs, vertigo, flat feet, pre/post operation/surgery, motor-vehicle accidents, and jaw pain.
‘My Physio will just give me loads of exercises to do and I’ll get better’
This is absolutely not the case – although exercise and movement are our friends, less is more with exercise. If we do need to prescribe you an exercise or exercises, they will often be a simple 1 or 2 that you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Rather than giving you exercises, we will also help you to modify your movement patterns and postures which can be just as effective in relieving your pain and discomfort to get you moving without issues.
'I Need To Have A Scan If Something Is Wrong'
Whether this is before or after you see a Physiotherapist, this is not always necessary. Physiotherapists are clinically treated to diagnose and treat problems you may have without a scan, which gives you more time to begin your rehabilitation and get better quicker!
If a Physiotherapist does need some help with your issue, they can help organize the most appropriate scan for you with your GP or specialist. Keep in mind, scans do not always equal how you feel!
For example, you and your neighbour could have a scan in the same area of the body and have an issue that is the same on your scan, but you both feel completely different from one another!
If you’d like to find out more about any of the above, you can press the button that’s below to make a booking with one of our Physios.
This blog was written by Luke Mrowka from the Burnside Physio practice.
Fasen, J. O’Connor, A. Schwartz, S. Watson, J. Plastaras, C. Garvan, C. Bulcao, C. Johnson, S. Akuthota, V. A randomized controlled trial of hamstring stretching: comparison of four techniques 2009 Mar;23(2):660-7
Slaven, E. Goode, A. Coronado, R. Poole, C. Hegedus, E.
The relative effectiveness of segment-specific level and non-specific level spinal joint mobilization on pain and range of motion: results of a systematic review and meta-analysis J Man Manip Ther. 2013 Feb; 21(1): 7–17
Treat Your Own Neck, McKenzie.R
Treat Your Own Back, McKenzie.R
Lumbar Spine, McKenzie.R