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Physical Conditions When You Need To See a Physiotherapist

In the modern-day scenario, where an increasing number of people face several health challenges even at a very young age, ranging from orthopaedic issues to cardiovascular problems and neurological disorders, there is a huge need for physiotherapy. There is often a misconception amongst many of us that physiotherapy is usually done to treat only bone and muscle related problems or disorders and involves treatment comprising exercises and heat waves. But there is a lot more to physiotherapy than meets the eye.

What Exactly Is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is an allied medical service or treatment method that involves the science of movement and assists in restoring, maintaining and maximizing the strength, function, movement and overall well-being of the patients affected with various disorders and illnesses. It involves physical rehabilitation, injury prevention, health and fitness.  The uniqueness of this treatment is that physiotherapists get you involved in your own recovery.

The terms “physical therapy” and “physiotherapy” mean the same and are used interchangeably, so are the terms “physiotherapist” and “physical therapist.”

Who Are Physiotherapists?

Physiotherapists have an in-depth knowledge of how the body works and are academically trained to assess, diagnose, and treat symptoms of illness, injury and disability. They work in close coordination with other healthcare professionals to provide the right kind of service to the patient in order to meet his or her specific healthcare needs.

What Are the Different Sub-Specialties of Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy has evolved to a great extent and there are different sub-specialties in physiotherapy that enable condition/disease specific treatment in a very effective manner. The following are the different sub-specialties:

  1. Orthopaedic/musculoskeletal physiotherapy
  2. Neurological physiotherapy
  3. Cardiopulmonary physiotherapy
  4. Paediatric physiotherapy
  5. Geriatric physiotherapy
  6. Rehabilitation and Pain Management

Physical Conditions That May Necessitate Seeing a Physiotherapist

The conditions that may necessitate or should alert you to see a physiotherapist are varied. It helps to be aware of these so that there is no delay in getting the right assistance. 

The 8 physical conditions that require you to see a physiotherapist are:

  • Post-surgery Rehabilitation 

If you have undergone a major surgery, you may require post-surgery rehabilitation to manage post-surgical consequences such as pain, reduced strength, reduced range of movement, swelling, balance and coordination problems as in the case of orthopaedic surgeries; breathing difficulties, pain, reduced mobility, postural problems, etc., as in cardiac surgeries; weakness, decreased mobility, postural problems, loss of sensation, muscle shortening, etc., in the case of neurological surgeries; and pain, breathing difficulties, continence problems, reduced mobility in the case of abdominal surgeries.

  • Pain Due to Injury 

If you experience persistent pain after an injury, then it is time for you to see a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are experts in tracing the source of the pain and treat it accordingly. They will look for areas of weakness or stiffness that may be causing stress to injury areas and treat those areas with certain exercises to ease your pain and help you to move better. The pain management sessions will involve pain relief exercises, low-impact aerobic training, strengthening exercises, etc., depending on the source, location and kind of pain. It may also involve TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and ultrasound, depending on the case.

  • Sports Injury

Sports injury treatment and rehabilitation has become a specialized branch of medicine in recent years due to the increasing popularity of sports – thanks to the advent of cricket, football leagues, etc. Physiotherapy plays a key role in the treatment of sports injury. Sports physiotherapists work in close coordination with the sports physician and orthopaedic surgeon with an aim to get the sportspersons back to sports and minimize their injury on return to sports.

  • Joint or Muscle Pain 

Joint pain or muscle pain most often may be inconveniencing and limit your ability to perform normal day-to-day activities. Severe joint pain may affect your quality of life and is usually felt in the hands, feet, hips, knees and spine.

If you experience constant or on and off pain, or a burning, throbbing or grating sensation in your joints, or when you have stiffness in your joints in the morning that improves with movement and activity, and if the first line of treatment such as topical applications, medications, weight loss, etc., are not effective in easing the pain, then it is high time you visit your physiotherapist. Physiotherapy, with its balanced fitness program, may gradually help ease pain and improve flexibility.

Muscle pain symptoms include pain or tenderness in the muscle, redness or bruising, swelling, limited motion, muscle weakness or muscle spasms. When these symptoms persist, do not delay visiting an orthopaedic surgeon or physiotherapist. Usually, orthopaedics advise physiotherapy.

  • Idiopathic Pain or Pain of Unknown Aetiology 

If you experience pain of unknown cause or when the source of pain cannot be ruled out, it is called idiopathic pain. For example, some people may have idiopathic neck or shoulder pain lasting more than 3 months without any specific cause, and the source of pain cannot be ruled out. In such cases, you should see your healthcare provider like your GP or the physiotherapist, physiotherapists may be able to diagnose the pain. Generally, to see a physiotherapist privately you don’t need a referral.

  • Pain or Condition That Interferes in Your Day-to-Day Activities

There is something called chronic pain which may last for more than 3-6 months and may be linked to a cause such as arthritis or cancer or sometimes may not be linked to any illness or injury. This should signal you to see a physiotherapist. Evidence shows that physiotherapists use a variety of skills to guide and support people with chronic pain for improving their quality of life.

  • Balance Problems

Loss of balance or unsteadiness may be due to various underlying conditions such as vestibular problems, peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the legs), joint, muscle or vision problems, side effects of certain medications or certain neurological conditions.

You will be surprised to know that physiotherapy is one of the adjuvant therapies for balance problems, depending on the factor causing the imbalance. Therapists who are specially trained in balance problems can design a customised program of balance retraining exercises.

  • To Undergo Rehabilitation Following a Neurological Condition Such As Stroke or Injury

Stroke is caused when the normal blood supply to a part of your brain is interrupted. This results in the lack of oxygen supply to the brain tissue, causing death of brain cells. Depending upon the severity of the stroke and the part of the brain that is damaged, the patient may have paraplegia (paralysis of the legs and lower body), or hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body) quadriplegia (paralysis of both legs and both arms). Thus, stroke greatly affects the mobility of the patient and deteriorates the quality of life.

The physiotherapist plays a major and indispensable role in stroke rehabilitation and works with the patient on aspects of positioning, mobilization, balance, gait and mobility.

Now that you know the important reasons that require you to visit a physiotherapist, the next step is to choose the right physiotherapy clinic. 

  • Physiotherapists in specialist role 

Physiotherapists, apart from traditional roles, can be trained in specialist roles like:

  1. In GP surgery, they work as First Contact Practitioners – assessing and triaging patients to support the GP workload.
  2.  Physiotherapists in Pain management clinics perform complex assessment and specialist treatment like spinal and joint injections.
  3. Physiotherapists with prescribing skills are  able to prescribe pain medications (expect some controlled medications) and even antibiotics etc.,
  4. Physiotherapists also work in Accident & Emergency units alongside other professionals to reduce the waiting time.
  5. Physiotherapists in Orthopaedic departments can perform complex assessments and are qualified  to refer patients for diagnostics like X-ray and MRI scans and perform specialist corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid joint injections.   

How to Choose the Right Physiotherapy Clinic?

  • Choose a physiotherapy clinic that adopts a holistic approach to treat the overall body health and has a wide range of treatment methods available.
  • Go for the one which has a highly experienced and skillful team and capable of dealing with different types of injuries and physical conditions.
  • Ensure that the physiotherapy clinic offers personalized treatment plans that suit individual needs.

A clinic like Physios ‘R’ Us (https://www.physiosrus.co.uk/) should be able to guide you in the right treatment direction, with its highly qualified and experienced team of physiotherapists belonging to various sub-specialties.