How to Know if Your Body is Telling You to Seek Out Physiotherapy
If you’re not an athlete or you’ve never experienced a serious injury, seeing a physiotherapist may have never crossed your mind. Those who have had physiotherapy are probably used to hearing “what happened?” because physiotherapy is most often associated with serious injuries.
However, there are actually a variety of common problems that can be treated with physiotherapy, from chronic pain to simply keeping your body in top shape. A physiotherapist is trained and licensed to identify and treat areas of concern, preventing more serious problems later on. Prevention is the best medicine, after all.
Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, is appropriate for patients of any age. It uses a variety of methods such as joint manipulation, muscle stretching, heat therapy, and electrotherapy to treat problems with the musculoskeletal and other bodily systems. Physiotherapy can relieve lingering pain or flare-ups from old injuries, incontinence, dizziness, vertigo, and other balance issues. If your symptoms have begun to affect your everyday life, it may be time to book a consultation with your local physiotherapist.
10 Reasons to Go to Physiotherapy
1. Pain Management
Pain management is probably the most common reason patients will seek out physio. Whether it’s pain from a recent injury, an old injury, or even just chronic pain from sitting at a desk all day, physiotherapy will specifically target the problem area and identify any underlying issues that could be making the pain worse. From there, your physiotherapist will use a combination of therapies to relieve the symptoms and prevent them from reoccurring.
2. Sports Injuries & Other Accidental Injuries
Due to the heightened risk of injury, many athletes seek out physiotherapy on a regular basis. Sports injuries often involve the musculoskeletal system, which makes physio a prime candidate for treatment. When done regularly, it can also increase your range of motion, which reduces the likelihood of future injuries and lets you play at your best.
Similarly, physiotherapy can also help rehabilitate your body from other accidental injuries such as sprains, fractures and soft tissue injuries sustained in day-to-day life. In these cases, it can prevent injuries from flaring up later on and even speed up the healing process.
3. Range of Motion
Contrary to popular belief, stiffness and limited joint mobility are not normal parts of aging. However, these problems are quite common due to the repetitive nature of most day jobs. Limited range of motion is also common among athletes and labourers. It’s easy to damage the ligaments, muscles, and nerves surrounding your joints, which can limit their ability to move in different directions.
Your physiotherapist will use specific exercises to safely move your body’s joint and soft tissues through their available ranges of motion, gradually stretching the muscle to expand those ranges and achieve better mobility over time. This is usually done over a period of several sessions, combined with prescribed at-home exercises.
4. MVA-Specific Therapy
From the moment of impact to the aftermath, there’s no denying that car accidents are a scary, stressful, and often confusing ordeal. Often the road to recovery seems long and gruelling; it can be difficult to map out the next steps.
However, there are a variety of physiotherapy treatments that specifically target MVA-specific injuries. These can include whiplash, sprains, and strains, or even certain head and spinal injuries. Heat therapy is a common tool used by physiotherapists to treat MVA-related issues.
In some cases involving the spine, it may be more appropriate to see a chiropractor. During your consultation, your physiotherapist will determine whether your injury falls under their jurisdiction. If not, they will be happy to make the appropriate referrals.
5. Pregnancy and Post-Partum Exercise
During pregnancy and childbirth, the female body goes through many changes and a great deal of stress. Many expectant and new mothers opt for a personal trainer to help the body recover. Many new mothers overwork themselves, which leads to problems that can arise weeks or even months after childbirth.
A physiotherapist’s knowledge of the effects on the muscles, ligaments, and joints gives them a better understanding of what is appropriate in the early months after having a baby, which makes physio a much safer option. A physiotherapist specializing in women’s health can also treat incontinence caused by the weakening of the pelvic floor, bladder, or bowel muscles that sometimes occurs after childbirth. Your physiotherapist will help you develop a plan to safely increase your activity, strengthen areas that have been stretched or weakened during pregnancy, and even help lose that “baby weight.”
6. Chronic Pain
Whether it’s reoccurring dull pain or lingering acute pain, if you’re living with chronic pain that persists for more than a few days, it may be time to consult a professional. There could be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed – this is especially common with neck pain, which is often caused by bad posture. A physiotherapist can diagnose these issues and lay out a comprehensive and ongoing treatment plan specific to your needs.
7. Weight Management
If you are struggling to manage your weight, physiotherapy can help you identify potential problem areas that are limiting your ability to lose weight. You could also be experiencing undue pain or a limited range of motion that kills your motivation to lead the healthy lifestyle you want.
At its core, physiotherapy promotes physical health through an active lifestyle. Combined with the right diet, physio can help you meet and maintain your weight loss goals through an individualized treatment plan tailored specifically to you and your body.
8. Disease Management
At least 50 per cent of Canadians are living with a chronic disease such as hypertension, emphysema, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, arthritis, or obesity. Studies have shown that physiotherapy can aid in preventing, treating and managing these conditions.
Physio treatments for these diseases could be anything from developing a safe exercise regimen to mitigate symptoms from home, to direct pain management treatments like electrotherapy, heat therapy, and muscular manipulation.
So, if you have a chronic disease, it may help to see your physiotherapist regularly in order to maximize benefits and keep the symptoms from returning.
9. Post-Operative Care
The success of your surgery isn’t actually determined from the moment you leave the operating table. In order to fully regain your strength, flexibility, and motor functions, you will likely be prescribed a strict physiotherapy regimen to follow in the weeks/months following your procedure. You’ll likely require re-assessment and frequent check-ins to monitor your progress.
Many physiotherapists are specially trained in post-operative care. In the hospital, you’ll be provided with simple exercises to minimize the chance of chest infection or blood clots, or maybe some early strengthening or range of motion exercises. From there, your treatment plan will likely consist of a combination of at-home exercises and in-person sessions with your physiotherapist.
Dizziness, vertigo, and balance issues are often indicative of other problems that are sometimes treatable with physiotherapy. Specifically, physio can address common sources of dizziness, such as problems with the ear’s vestibular apparatus as well as cervical spinal dysfunction.
In rare cases, dizziness can be an indicator of serious medical issues. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should always consult a physician before beginning physiotherapy – once they have ruled out a stroke or heart attack, you can ask whether physiotherapy would be a viable treatment route.
Whether you’re using it as a preventative tool, to treat chronic pain or to help you recover from an injury, there’s a lot more to physio than meets the eye. When you develop a relationship with your physiotherapist, they’ll get to know you and your body. And when used regularly, physio can save you a fortune in the long-term by eliminating preventable injuries before they become a problem.
Keep in mind that it’s important to be realistic – results won’t happen overnight. Remember to pace yourself and follow your physiotherapist’s advice on activity and rest so you don’t overdo it and potentially reverse the progress you’ve made. When used properly, physio is a holistic alternative to surgeries and medications that can – and should – become a regular part of your wellness routine.