Who can benefit from physiotherapy, and how does it help?

Answers to common questions about physiotherapy, including what is physiotherapy treatment?

Have questions about physiotherapy? Well, we have answers!  

To start, what is physiotherapy? 

Physiotherapy is the treatment of injury, disease, disorders, and conditions through physical methods, including massage, manipulation, exercise, and other treatment modalities. 

Rather than use multiple medications or opt for surgery, physiotherapy offers a more holistic approach to treatment and rehabilitation. 

But who is this ideal for and what does it do, exactly? 

Here are answers to your questions, including what physiotherapists do, who this treatment is ideal for, and other common inquiries about the practice.

What Is the Role of a Physiotherapist?

A physiotherapist is a trained and licensed medical professional with experience:

  • Diagnosing physical abnormalities
  • Restoring physical function and mobility
  • Maintaining physical function
  • Promoting proper function and physical activity

Physiotherapists help people understand the underlying cause of their pain and how to manage it, along with providing hands-on treatment and treatment modalities such as IFC and laser treatments.

A physiotherapist can help prevent a condition or injury and prevent re-injury and chronic pain from recurring.

The main goal of a physiotherapist is to improve the quality of life for their patients using treatments to alleviate pain and restore function or reduce the effects of dysfunction. 

Who is the ideal candidate for physiotherapy?

An ideal candidate for physiotherapy is anyone, regardless of age, who suffers from physical problems that are the result of injury, illness, disease, or ageing. 

For example, if you need to improve mobility, recover from surgery, or a traumatic injury, have strained muscles, or are living with chronic pain, you will benefit from physiotherapy. 

When should you see a physiotherapist?

You should visit a physiotherapy clinic and see a physiotherapist if you have an injury or are suffering from chronic pain, discomfort, or mobility issues that affect your ability to function and perform daily activities.

Your doctor might also refer you to a physiotherapist after a stroke, heart attack, or surgery, such as hip replacement.

What problems do physiotherapists treat? 

Physiotherapists focus on prevention and rehabilitation and treat a variety of problems caused by injury, disease, or disability, from TMJ treatment physiotherapy to physiotherapy treatment for neck pain.

Other examples of treatment include physiotherapy exercises for lower back pain, cervical pain, and pre-surgery to help improve recovery time.

Physiotherapists can help treat the following issues, injuries, conditions, and symptoms of conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Concussion
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Fall prevention
  • Fractures
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Hip replacement
  • Incontinence
  • Knee replacement
  • Lymphedema
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Neck pain
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-myocardial infarction 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Running injury
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Sports injury
  • Sprains and strains
  • Stroke
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Vestibular dysfunction

What to expect during your treatment

When visiting a physiotherapist, you can expect the following:

  • A physical examination and evaluation, which will include a health history and tests, such as an evaluation of posture, movement, and flexibility, and muscle and joint motion and performance.
  • A clinical diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plan, and goals—both short- and long-term.
  • Physiotherapy treatment and intervention, such as a prescribed course of exercises and assistive devices you may need.
  • Recommendations for self- and pain-management, such as continuing the exercises at home. 

Your physiotherapist will also address any concerns or uncertainties, offer advice and reassurance, and help you feel confident about managing your condition.

Tips for managing your pain

While your physiotherapist will provide pain-management advice specific for your needs, here are common tips and treatments that will help alleviate your pain.

Pace Yourself and Have Realistic Expectations

While you might be eager to speed up your recovery time, it won’t happen overnight. And overdoing things can increase your pain and slow down recovery (as can not doing enough). 

So pace yourself, be realistic about the time it will take to recover, follow your physiotherapist’s advice on activity level, and plan your activities accordingly. Your physiotherapist will prescribe a rate and activity level you can handle while finding the right balance between rest and activity.

Exercise regularly and take care of yourself

Regular exercise stimulates the body’s production of endorphins—natural pain-relieving hormones. And regular graded exercise—starting slow and increasing in small steps—will increase your fitness and strengthen your muscles and joints. 

Gradually improving your fitness will increase your activity level without increasing your pain. And it will help improve your mobility, maintain a healthy weight, and boost your self-confidence.

Other Treatments 

Other treatments to help reduce pain include:

  • Ice packs to soothe hot, swollen joints
  • Heat packs to relax tense, tired muscles
  • Splinting of swollen or painful joints
  • Myofascial release to relax muscles and make joint movement more comfortable
  • Acupuncture/Dry Needling to stimulate the production of endorphins—natural pain relievers
  • Electrotherapy, ultrasound and/or low-level laser therapy to stimulate the healing process and reduce pain
  • Manipulation to improve a joint’s range of motion
  • A TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine to block pain messages to your brain

The takeaway

Physiotherapy can benefit people of all ages who need help alleviating pain, improving mobility, and recovering from an injury, surgery, disease, or other condition. 

With treatment and pain-management plans targeted to your specific needs, you can start working toward improved mobility, fitness, health, and well-being, while alleviating pain along the way.

Visit a physiotherapy clinic to start the healing process. A physiotherapist can help to answer more of your questions and provide professional advice so you can be on your way to living pain-free and improving your quality of life.

Michael McCreight, Registered Physiotherapist

Mike is an experienced and talented physiotherapist who holds a BSc in human kinetics and an MSc in physiotherapy. He doesn't believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach and is committed to providing client-centred care, tailoring each treatment plan to each patient’s unique needs and personal goals.

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