What can physiotherapy treatments help with?
Back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal complaints physiotherapists encounter. Although many people find that their back pain resolves with a few weeks of rest, others find that it becomes a chronic problem that seriously affects their quality of life. Indeed, back pain can prevent a person from doing certain activities that they love and can make even sitting in an office chair very difficult. What’s more, our sedentary lives often make back pain much worse, thus creating a kind of vicious circle. Fortunately, most people are able to overcome their back pain with the help of the right treatments. While some people opt to see a chiropractor for spine realignment, a physio can help people to work through the pain through gentle movements. People who take this kind of active role in their recovery often see quicker results to those who rely on passive treatments.
Neck pain is similar to back pain in that it is very common and often resolves itself within a few weeks. For those facing long term pain, however, a physiotherapist can help to assess the problem, perform physical treatments, and provide helpful lifestyle advice for the patient. Indeed, many lifestyle factors can affect a person’s neck including working in a cramped office, lack of exercise, or disrupted sleep patterns.
Posture refers to the way in which a person positions their body when performing certain tasks. It involves factors such as automatic reflexes, personal habits and muscle contractions. Some people have poor posture, meaning that they are prone to adopting positions that put unnecessary pressure on certain parts of the body and can lead to pain, muscle weakness, and a lack of flexibility. Fortunately, a physio can help patients to improve their posture by teaching them certain exercises and by providing helpful lifestyle advice.
Although you may not immediately turn to a physiotherapist to help deal with headaches, they can help to eliminate the issue in certain cases. Of course, it is important to ascertain the cause of the headaches. People experiencing serious pain, neurological issues, or other worrying symptoms may require other kinds of medical treatment. However, for many people, chronic headaches derive from problems with posture and neck functionality. In such cases, a physio can help to address the underlying causes through rehabilitation exercises, postural correction, and relaxation therapies.
Injuries or rehabilitation
Traumatic injuries that occur during events such as sporting accidents or vehicle collisions can end up causing serious problems with pain and mobility that threaten to last a long time. There are many types of conditions that may arise from such injuries including, but by no means limited to, ligament tears in areas like the knee, shoulder separation or dislocation, strained muscles, rotator cuff problems, frozen shoulder syndrome, and stress fractures. Although recovery from such injuries is unlikely to be instantaneous, a physiotherapist can help to draw up an exercise and rehabilitation programme that works to build a patient’s strength and mobility.
Although rest may seem like the obvious treatment for those with pain and mobility problems, physiotherapy can actually help to speed up recovery times and secure better outcomes for patients. This is because it is designed to promote tissue healing, build up weakened muscles, and lubricate stiff joints.
What common treatments do physiotherapists use?
Massage is designed to stimulate the body’s soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments and muscles to relieve pain, boost circulation and boost relaxation. Physiotherapists use a range of massage techniques depending on a patient’s symptoms including kneading, deep tissue massage, stroking, and frictions.
Exercise is advised to promote wellbeing and help with recovery from injuries and illness. Physiotherapist-led exercise plans can help to produce a range of positive outcomes including reducing pain, promoting good sleep, boosting muscle strength and length, improving the efficiency of the heart and lungs, improving balance and coordination, and increasing mobility.
Dry needling is a special technique involving the insertion of needles into painful trigger points. It is used to help reduce muscle pain, spasms, and inflammation, as well as to speed up the recovery of injuries by improving blood flow.
Heat and cold therapy
Cold therapy is often used by physiotherapists to treat soft tissue injuries in their acute stages. It is carried out with a cryo cuff or simply ice to cool down damaged tissue and offer pain relief, reduce any swelling, and mitigate muscle spasms. Heat therapy is similar, but instead involves applying heat to injured tissue to increase blood flow to the area. This boosts the supply of oxygen and proteins to the injury, thus speeding up its repair and reducing pain.
This powerful technique involves sending electrical impulses to various parts of the body to block pain signals. In this way, it is a helpful tool in reducing pain and helping people to move more easily.
Physiotherapists use a special kind of tape on certain parts of the body to prevent further injuries, protect soft tissue structures such as ligaments and tendons, support normal movements, reduce pain and swelling, and mitigate the risk of re-injury.
Joint mobilisations are used in massage therapy in order to treat soft tissues and joints. Mobilisations involve gently moving bones or vertebrae in order to relieve pain, stiffness and tension. The pressure of mobilisation is graded from one to five, with physiotherapists carefully selecting an appropriate grade to prevent further injury.
What are the different types of physiotherapy?
Sport medicine physiotherapy
This kind of physiotherapy is designed to prevent and manage any injuries that arise during sport and exercise. It can be tailored towards people of all ages and ability levels, with physiotherapists simply committed to facilitating safe participation in activities. They can also offer advice to individuals about improving their quality of life and understanding how to enhance their performance. This is particularly important for budding young athletes.
This branch of physiotherapy is involved with treating injuries or illnesses of the skeletal system and its associated muscles, ligaments and joints. It also encompasses rehabilitative treatments for those undergoing operations for hip, knee, or shoulder problems.
Paediatric physiotherapy is tailored towards children under the age of 16 and is designed to help with a whole host of neuro-orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions. In many cases, it does not differ too much from adult physiotherapy but involves more child-friendly treatments.
Geriatric physiotherapy is specially tailored to treat some of the conditions that arise with age. Physiotherapists who work with older adults often focus on helping maintain their functional and physical independence. If possible, they also try to help them grasp a new lease on life and improve their mobility and ability to take part in everyday activities. Geriatric treatments are often centred around preventing falls, improving balance, and building up muscles.
Neurological physiotherapy is designed to treat and assess people who face pain and mobility problems that stem from disorders of the central nervous system. These conditions can be a little trickier to treat as they involve the brain, nerves and spinal cord, rather than simply the muscles. However, many people with complex mobility problems such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke find that physiotherapy can be hugely beneficial in reasserting their independence.
This kind of physiotherapy helps patients whose cardiovascular system has been affected by diseases such as heart attack, angina and stroke. Programmes within this field are often effective in improving overall health, reducing time spent in the hospital, and reducing overall mortality. This is because cardiac patients often present with non-cardiac issues including back pain, arthritis, and joint issues that can impede their recovery. Fortunately, physiotherapists can help to address these issues through education, exercise programmes, and emotional support.
Many physiotherapists work with pregnant women to help reduce the pain and stiffness related to carrying and birthing an infant. Treatments for pregnancy are usually tailored to relieve conditions including bladder leakage caused by strained pelvic muscles, arm pain caused by nerve compression, lower back pain, and tightness in the calves and hamstrings.
How much does it cost to see a physiotherapist in Australia?
If you’re wondering “where can I find a physio near me?”, you should probably also consider which practices offer affordable rates. Indeed, physiotherapy cost can vary widely depending on your location and the type of appointment you need. Your initial appointment, for example, may take up to an hour and cost anywhere from $60 to upwards of $120. Follow-up appointments tend to be a little shorter and, therefore, cost less. It is worth noting that you may be able to reclaim some costs if you have private health insurance.
When should I visit a physiotherapist?
This depends on a number of factors and it is up to you to gauge whether your pain warrants a trip to the physiotherapist. Sometimes, neck pain or back pain can resolve itself within a few days. In this way, it may be a good idea to wait a few days to see whether your problem gets worse or persists. If your pain is chronic or you are going through an experience such as pregnancy, however, it is well worth booking an appointment with your local physio at your earliest convenience. In some cases, the earlier you book, the quicker you will be able to get back on your feet and enjoy a good quality of life.
It is also worth noting that severe pain, particularly if it is accompanied by other worrying symptoms, could require emergency treatment. If this is the case, do not hesitate to call an ambulance.
How many sessions do I need for physiotherapy?
Again, the answer to this question will vary widely depending on your situation. Some people, for example, find that a single appointment is enough time to learn all the new techniques and lifestyle tips they need to solve minor issues. The average physiotherapy course is between five and seven sessions. However, for people with serious injuries who need more help, this number could be much higher.
What qualifications does a physiotherapist need in Australia?
Physiotherapists working in Australia need to have completed a tertiary qualification such as a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy or a Bachelor of Physiotherapy. They must also be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia and complete 20 hours of Continued Professional Development (CPD) every year.
Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist?
No. Physiotherapists are paid privately and act independently of doctor’s offices. Indeed, they are known as first-contact practitioners and have the powers to assess and diagnose medical problems that can then be treated without a referral from a doctor. It is worth noting, however, that many are happy to liaise with their patients’ GPs if they desire.
How long do physiotherapy sessions last?
This depends on what kind of treatments you need. For example, a session which involves lots of physiotherapy exercises may take a little longer than those that primarily involve diagnostics and advice. Generally speaking, however, an average session is likely to last between half an hour and an hour.
What should I wear to a physiotherapy session?
Wearing comfortable clothing can help to make your physiotherapy as effective as possible. This is because it will help you to move more easily if you are doing physical exercises. Loose-fitting garments also allow physiotherapists to see the working of your muscles, skin and joints more easily, helping them to tailor your treatment.
If you’re wondering what this means, shorts, a t-shirt and a jumper will be fine during winter months. During summer, shorts and a loose-fitting top will work very well. In terms of footwear, you should try to opt for trainers as they will offer excellent support for your feet and can be taken off easily.