How To Benefit From Physiotherapy

If you have a musculo-skeletal problem or injury, you might be given a referral to a physiotherapy clinic.  If you have gone to one before, you know what to expect.  If you are new to this service, you might ask, what is physiotherapy?  The short answer is that physiotherapy provides physical healing using hands-on techniques such as massage or manipulation of the musculo-skeletal system.

Physiotherapy typically starts with rehabilitation, and then focuses on education. The rehabilitation component is immediate at a hospital or centre. After an initial evaluation, they will be scheduled for treatments like ultrasound or acupuncture.  Heat, ice, and ultrasound are used to relieve pain and stiffness.  Massage, chiropractic, and other hands-on methods are important. Equipment for helping patients regain their strength and mobility are a part of what is physiotherapy.

As for education, a physiotherapist will teach a patient how to care for their injuries with home exercises so that therapy can continue beyond the walls of the clinic or hospital. This is crucial in maintaining the integrity of their spines and muscles.  Given the right treatments and an injury that will respond to treatment, much progress can be made.  Full functioning may be regained.  It may even be possible for them to go back to work rather than being laid up at home.

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The focus of the rest of the post is on making the most from a physiotherapy assessment. In theory, one can sit back and let the physiotherapist do all the work.  However, more accurate and positive results will come of the physiotherapy assessment if the patient becomes involved.  When you go in to the physiotherapy appointment, your doctor should have given the physiotherapist some idea of your condition. It is wise to be thorough in explaining past problems and conditions that seem to run in the family.

Your family history will have a bearing on your treatment.  It might even point to some disease or disorder that no one suspected that you had.  A thorough physiotherapy assessment could possibly lead to treatment by a physician for an unexpected illness.  Then, the therapist will ask questions about your present condition.  You will be asked about when the pain, stiffness, or other problems started and how much it hurts. Always be honest in your answers!

Then, the therapist will watch you move.  For a person who does not wish to be seen as weak, it may be a challenge to walk and do other movements as the person does them when no one is watching. You will be put through a series of movements that may seem cruel to you.  If you can barely do them, that tells your physiotherapist a great deal of information. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step.

Once all of these are complete, you will have a full assessment and commence on immediate recovery. However, the trajectory and way this will go depends on how well you were able to communicate and demonstrate your condition in the first place, as described above. So if you ever need to go to physiotherapy, I am confident that you now know what to expect.

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Also published on Medium.

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