Physiotherapy – the unanswered questions!
Should you only see a physiotherapist if your doctor tells you to? How many sessions are enough? And is it really a physio you need to visit or someone else?
Myth 1: “Only patients who are referred by their GP need physiotherapy”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physiotherapists are qualified to improve or restore human motor function, maximise movement ability, relieve pain and treat or prevent physical challenges associated with injuries, disease and other impairments.
In reality, all of us could benefit from receiving physiotherapy at some point in our lives, as physiotherapists are able to identify, evaluate and prevent musculoskeletal injuries.
A simple postural evaluation can uncover the foundations of musculoskeletal injuries that may develop over time. Early identification and proper treatment can optimise the chances of recovery.
Myth 2: “The never-ending dilemma of should I go to a physiotherapist, massage therapist, sports therapist, osteopath, acupuncturist, chiropractor……!”
It is true that in modern times, we are spoilt for choice. All of these professions have one common goal: alleviating pain and improving function. However, the way that they approach this can vary greatly.
A physiotherapist is someone who has scientific reasoning of your impairments and formulates evidence-based exercises for your recovery. They work in partnership with individuals of all ages too, amongst other things, break down the barriers to physical function; undertake pre and post-surgery rehabilitation; help people with a chronic illness or injury to work towards a return to the activities of daily living; assess workplace risk factors; rehabilitate those involved in motor vehicle accidents and assist people with age-related conditions.
Myth 3: “A few physiotherapy sessions should help”
The number of sessions that you’ll require depends on a wide range of factors, such as your demographic, medical history, current diagnosis, psychosocial factors and lifestyle, to name but a few.
After your evaluation has taken place, your physiotherapist will lay out your treatment plan in the following steps:
- Identify the problem – diagnosis and clinical reasoning
- Treat the problem – manual therapy, electrotherapy or exercise therapy
- Return to your lifestyle – home exercise program and self-management techniques
- Avoid recurrences – adherence and compliance to above
Myth 4: “I am better when I am taking sessions but the moment I stop, the pain comes back”
Evidence suggests that around two thirds (60-70%) of people start becoming non-compliant to their exercise regimes after they have completed their sessions, missing phase 3 (above) and
thus experiencing recurrences.
Musculoskeletal re-training and biomechanical corrections take from around 3 months to 1 year, during which continuation of your exercises and follow up with your physiotherapist is essential. During this time, you and your physiotherapist should pro-actively formulate steps towards a common goal. Shared decision making is a key element of this.
For example, you may need to make your work station ergonomically supportive to reduce stress on your joints, modify your footwear according to the surface that you run on, use insoles and arch supports, regularly carry out strengthening and stretching techniques or design effective warm-up and cool-down exercises.
Myth 5: “Modalities and manual therapy make me feel better”
Of course it will! The basic purpose of this is to reduce pain or inflammation and to aid the healing process of your injury. This form of therapy is a pre-requisite to the exercises which are essential for complete recovery. Consider this as a warm-up period that your body has to undergo before any vigorous workout. These are the various tools that are used, coupled with exercises, to regain a normal lifestyle.