What is physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy can be described as a method of treatment that encompasses rehabilitation, injury prevention, healing and promotion of holistic fitness. It primarily focuses on the science of movement to address underlying physical issues caused due to injury or disability and help people in restoring, maximising & maintaining their physical strength and vigour. Using a combination of proven techniques and evidence based natural methods like exercises and a range of massages; a physiotherapist help diagnose the disorder and suggest a treatment plan best suited to improve the patient’s physical well-being and restore them back to normalcy.
One of the main reasons for people seeking physiotherapy is to find lasting relief from pain that could be bothering them and restricting their mobility due to a number of factors. Whether the pain or discomfort is due to an injury, frozen shoulder, wrong posture, or some other external factor; physiotherapy not only helps manage the pain & move better but also recognises warning signs and prevent them from happening. Thus saving you from the added pain of the injury associated downtime.
Some of the most common reasons for which people opt for physiotherapy include:
- Prevention of injuries
- Work on posture
- Alleviate general pain
- Facilitate stretching & flexibility of joints and muscles
- Heal from a surgical procedure
- Management of disease
- Recover from hip or knee replacement
- Improve body balance
Benefits of physiotherapy:
Regular physiotherapy can provide relief to people of all ages suffering from a variety of ailments & injuries. With the help of high quality physiotherapy you can restore your physical condition to pre- pain and injury fitness level and lead a much active and healthy life. Some of the best known benefits of physiotherapy include:
- Lasting relief from pain: Multiple aches and pains in the body could be due to a number of reasons. Be it an ankle injury while playing basketball or chronic lower back pain due to long hours at work, if the pain is affecting your everyday routine and activities, it definitely needs immediate attention. Regular physio therapy sessions not only help mitigate or even out pain but also reduces your dependency on pain killers that could be expensive or prove harmful in the long run.
- Prevention from surgery: While surgery may be unavoidable in certain cases, physiotherapy can help eliminate the need for going under the knife in most of them. Using a variety of treatments that includes a combination of exercises and therapies, it assists in elimination of pain from the root, heal injured tissues and facilitate painless & smooth mobility over a period of time. In case you have already undergone surgery, physiotherapy can help you recover from it faster.
- Improved mobility & balance: People who are recovering from a surgery or an injury, can take time to get back on their feet. Mobility can be a challenge and doing everyday chores may become an impossible task. In such cases, physiotherapy can prove to be of great help. It not only helps the body regain its lost muscle strength and improve coordination but also gain mobility to move around safely.
- Mange age related issues: With age people tend to develop bones, joints or muscles related complications like osteoporosis and arthritis among others. To tackle these everyday aches and pains, regular physiotherapy can prove to be advantageous. It can also be opted for if a person has had a knee or hip replacement surgery and is looking to alleviate pain and recover faster.
- Avoid dependency on medicines: While painkillers may provide instant relief from pain, the affect they can have on your kidneys and liver can prove to be fatal in the long run. Therefore, to address long term pain issues physiotherapy is considered to be a safe and more effective alternative to pain control medication.
Who should go for physiotherapy?
The need for physiotherapy can arise at any age. Whether you are a baby, a young athlete or a 60 year old person; if you have experienced any kind of sprain, injury or muscular disorder; physiotherapy (beginner or advanced level) can do a world of good for your overall physical well-being and put you on the track to fast recovery.
If you have any of the below given conditions, you can opt for physiotherapy for long-term benefits:
|Posture problem||Back pain, lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, muscle weakness, scapular instability, poor muscle tone, muscle imbalance, hypotonia|
|Joint pain||Arthritis, osteoporosis, poorly aligned joints, lupus, joint instability, bursitis, degenerative joints, age related joint ailments|
|Joint injuries||Sprains & strains in ankle, knees, elbows, shoulder, wrist etc., torn cartilage, dislocated or unstable joints, degenerated meniscus, joint hypermobility|
|Recovery from surgery||Hip replacement, athletic injury surgery, tendon surgery, knee replacement, ligament surgery, spinal cord injury surgery, reconstructive surgery, lymph node replacement|
|Soft tissue injuries||Tennis elbow, golfers elbow, whiplash, Achilles tendinitis, back & neck strain, rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis|
|Bruising/Swelling/Endema||Bruising following sports or any other related injury or surgery, contusions, swollen joints, chronic joint or muscle inflammation, lymphedema, lymphatic congestion|
You can also seek help of a professional physiotherapist if you are suffering from:
- Cervical spondylosis
- Cerebral palsy
- Neurological condition
- Musculo-skeletal condition
- Frozen shoulder
- Slip disc
- Management of diseases like diabetes or any heart related condition
- Pregnancy related pain in joints & muscles
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Post-natal term
What do physiotherapists do?
The key role of a physiotherapist is get you moving to the best of your functional capacity. Using a mix of hands-on treatments like manual therapies to stretch stiff joints & muscles to therapeutic massages to loosen tight muscles to using machines and equipment to address pain related issues; they help you not just diagnose the main reason behind the pain but also work towards complete elimination of it from your system so that you can lead a healthy, fit and pain free life.
A good physiotherapist will assess your physical condition, educate you on your pain and its related issues and then customise a rehabilitation program specifically suited for your condition. A typical visit to the physiotherapist would include:
- Massaging areas of your body
- Stretching your muscles
- Manipulation your joints manually or with the help of equipment
- Physical exercises
Types of physiotherapy treatments
Physiotherapy uses a range of techniques and approaches to improve the overall physical well-being of those suffering from some kind of movement disorder, injury or diseases. Following the assessment of your physical condition, the physiotherapist may devise a treatment plan taking into account one or a combination of the following therapies:
- Massage & manipulation:
This involves manipulating body’s soft tissues using movement of hands. It is considered to be one of the most effective forms of physiotherapy and is suitable for people of all ages. It is used for the purpose of:
- Improving blood circulation around the body
- Effective draining of fluids from parts of the body
- Enhance the movement of different parts of the body
- Relieve pain and help the body relax
This technique is most effective when it comes to treating pain, aches & movement disorders in the neck, shoulder and back area; and curing headache and stress related issues.
- Movement & exercises:
A comprehensive exercising programme is an essential part of physiotherapy that people are often recommended to undergo while recovering from an injury or looking to improve their balance or speed of movement. As per the diagnosis, specific exercises are incorporated in the treatment plan to help you recover fast & safely.
The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen your muscles & joints area, improve control, improve the overall range of movement and prevent further or recurring injury. For example, a combination of gentle exercises like walking or swimming may be recommended to someone who is recovering from an injury that may have effected their overall mobility. Similarly, for someone who must have had a stroke or an attack due to which they were facing paralysis or difficulty in moving a limb, exercises targeting that specific affected area would be recommended.
- Energy based therapy:
Also known as electrotherapy, it uses different types of energies such as currents or impulses to stimulate the nervous system. The electric impulses make the muscles tighten which in turn helps ease out pain and stress from the body, thereby promoting effective healing.
Energy based therapies are completely pain free and you may experience a bit of tingling sensation while undergoing them. Their types include:
- TENS: The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine delivers an electric current to stop your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain and encourages endorphins to be released.
- Ultrasound– High-frequency sound waves treat deep tissue injuries by stimulating blood circulation and cell activity. It is thought to help reduce pain and muscle spasm and speed up the healing process.
- Laser therapy– This therapy helps reduce pain and muscle spasms. It is thought to be most effective at treating tendon conditions, although studies have shown that it may not be as effective as other types of energy based therapies.
- Shortwave diathermy– An electromagnetic field generates heat within your body’s tissues. This is thought to help reduce inflammation, strengthen tissues and reduce pain
It is a form of therapy that is carried out in water. The water temperature is usually kept from warm to hot to help the muscles relax and relieve pain. A special hydrotherapy bath is prepared in which the weight of the water pushes against your body while you are floating or performing the exercises. It helps stimulate proper blood flow in the body and reduce pain.
- Paediatric physiotherapy:
It is the branch of physiotherapy that aims at helping children and young people with developmental issues and physical problems. A child may be faced with movement difficulty due to a range of conditions, which may include but is not limited to:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Development Delay
- Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
- Neuromuscular Conditions
- Acquired Brain Injury
- Down’s Syndrome
Post the diagnosis of the problem, proper assessment of the condition and long-term impact of the treatment, a customised plan is devised and incorporated into the child’s simple everyday activities. Parents are encouraged to participate in the program and help the child make the most of their growth years, reach their potential and transition into adult life with ease.
- Neurological physical therapy:
For conditions related to spinal cord or those suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or any other form of brain injury; physical exercises can have a positive impact. By performing therapeutic exercises regularly, you can reduce the impact of neurological disorder from spreading further in the system and improve your bodily movement and coordination.
- Cardiovascular physical therapy:
If one is facing problems with the heart or circulation of blood and oxygen in the system, a cardiopulmonary physical therapy can help get rid of the problems like heart attack and pulmonary fibrosis; growth strength in key muscles and improve your endurance in the long run.
How quickly does physiotherapy work?
Every condition is different and every patient heals at different rates. In general, one should attend physiotherapy sessions till they have reached their goal or the physiotherapist decides it’s time to stop and re-evaluate the progress. Typically, it should take anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks for the tissues and muscles to heal and so the physiotherapy must last that long. Sometimes, your condition may rapidly get better, and you may notice an improvement in pain control, range of motion, and strength within a few sessions of physical therapy. In such a scenario, you may be required to attend 2-3 sessions more before you are discharged or asked to follow the exercise routine at home. But then again depending upon the severity of your condition and the amount of damage, your physiotherapist might ask you to extend the therapy and continue till you have reached a satisfactory level of progress.
Can there be any side effects?
Physiotherapy is generally safe when practised under the expert eye of a professional and qualified physical therapist, however few minor complications cannot be completely ruled out. Physical therapies are at times known to aggravate conditions like:
- Increased pain
- Muscle soreness/tension
- Back pain
- Increased metabolic or heart rate
- Burns & rashes
How to find a physiotherapist
It can be both daunting and confusing to know where to begin your search for a well-qualified, professional and expert physiotherapist. But with patience and a bit of research you can easily find a therapist who would not only help eliminate pain but also get you back on your feet in no time. But while choosing the right physiotherapist, keep these points in mind:
- Know their qualification and check if they are known to follow the code of practice normally adhered by good quality physiotherapist
- Speak with them in detail to know about their key area of expertise. There is definitely no point in discussing your musculoskeletal condition with someone who does not even deal in treating that particular problem
- A physiotherapist who understands your lifestyle needs and then tailor makes a treatment plan specific to your condition can help improve your quality of life and recover faster. Therefore, thoroughly discuss your everyday activities and goals with them. Let them know what physical activity you see yourself performing with ease, over a period of time, so that they can chart a course of recovery best suited for your needs.
- Knowing the location of your therapist is very important. Engaging with a therapist who stays miles away from your house does not make any sense as it would require you to travel far and go through the added stress of commuting through traffic each time. Therefore, it is best to engage with a professional who can come to you and treat you within the privacy and comfort of your home.
- Knowing in advance the methods they’d apply and the course of treatment they usually suggest for a particular condition will help you arrive on a decision faster.
At HealthCare at home, licensed and trained physiotherapists provide the best possible treatment with individualized plans catering to the needs of the patient. You can get more details on home physiotherapy by calling on our toll-free number 1800-102-4224.
If you want a FREE telephonic consultation from our expert team of physiotherapists, contact our Physiotherapy Helpline on 0120-6783277.