A physiotherapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in physical therapy. They treat patients with injuries, disease, and other conditions affecting their body's functions. A physiotherapist aims to help people resume their normal activities and live pain-free lives through physiotherapy, a standard treatment for different conditions such as lower back pain, neck pain, arthritis, and sports injuries like ACL tears or tennis elbow. This guide aims to walk you through the standard problems addressed by physiotherapy, their explanations, and physio-solutions.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people see a physiotherapist. It can be caused by stiff muscles, arthritis, or pinched nerves. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), around 80% of Americans experience back pain at least once in their lives.
One of the most common physiotherapy treatments for back pain is manual therapy, which involves applying different techniques such as massage, stretching, and joint mobilization to the injured area. Other treatments include exercise, where the patient performs low-intensity exercises (such as walking) over the affected area to prevent stiffness.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Neck pain can be caused by several reasons, either non-inflammatory or inflammatory. It can also be due to an injury or strain to the neck's muscles, ligaments, or vertebrae. Whether due to injuries or simply a tight neck, you must see a physiotherapist immediately if your neck pain extends to your head, jaw, or shoulder joints.
A physiotherapist may recommend working on a combination of stretches and exercises to loosen tight muscles or joints in musculoskeletal neck pain. Treatment may also be based on an MRI scan to ensure that the person has no severe structural damage or other underlying health problems.
Posture problems can cause pain, numbness, and tingling to muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons in the arms and the upper back and neck. Therefore, it's essential to detect any posture problems before they become a more serious issue.
The treatment for a postural problem would depend on the severity of the condition. For example, if you experience posture pain after sitting for long hours, the cause of your pain could be due to compression in your back or the muscles, which need to be stretched out. Physiotherapists offer deep tissue massage to relieve muscle pain caused by repetitive movements and stress on joints and tissues in the upper back and neck area.
Pregnancy Aches & Pains
Pregnancy can cause aches and pains in the body, especially in the hands, ankles, and feet. In some cases, these pains signify an underlying problem or the result of hormone imbalances that your body experiences while expecting.
Physiotherapists can offer advice on adjusting your lifestyle to help ease any pain or discomfort you may experience during pregnancy. Treatments such as massage therapy, stretching & strengthening exercises can also be focused on the affected muscles, joints, and ligaments.
Tension/stress can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper arms. It is also known as muscular pain due to its strain on muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
If you don't know what causes your muscle pain, your doctor might recommend regular treatments to improve muscle strength and flexibility. However, if the pain is severe or comes with headaches and fatigue, you may need expert help in Physiotherapy.
Treating the soft tissues in the neck and back gives a physiotherapist a better understanding of what is causing your pain and can help to address the underlying cause. Treatments such as massage therapy, myofascial release therapy (MFR), and focused stretching exercises can help reduce tension or stress on muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Soft Tissue Injuries and Dysfunctions
Soft tissue injuries are any injury to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They can be caused by muscle overuse or relatively minor trauma.
Soft tissue injuries vary in severity. A suitable treatment depends on the cause and type of injury. However, there may be some visible signs that your injury is healing - this is called a healing phase which can last from 2 days to 2 weeks. This period would be followed by a rehabilitation phase where therapy focuses on strengthening the affected muscle, joint, and ligament.
Some surgical procedures can have the effect of causing pain. This can be primarily because a large amount of muscle tissue was damaged, leaving some persistent pain. Some of these procedures include hip replacement surgery, ACL reconstruction surgery, and others.
For post-surgical pain, your physiotherapist may prescribe a rehabilitation regime that can help you regain your strength and mobility as soon as possible. If the cause of the pain is scar tissue or swelling, this treatment will also reduce swelling and increase the range of motion in the affected area. Treatment can also focus on helping you learn how to manage pain through techniques such as breathing exercises, stretching, and relaxation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation in the joints, which leads to pain and makes it difficult to move them. This condition can also cause bone erosion and stiffness.
Physiotherapists treat musculoskeletal problems due to arthritis with a series of treatments that focus on the joints and other parts of the body. For instance, they might offer specialized treatments to help remove the inflammation from the affected joints. These treatments include joint manipulation and mobilizations and thermal therapy.
Joint Injuries & Joint Pain
Joint injuries, such as a sprained ankle or torn ligaments, can cause pain and limit the use of the affected joints in your body. This type of injury is usually accompanied by swelling, bruising, and inflammation. In some cases, the pain in the joints can be the result of an underlying problem such as arthritis or overuse injury.
If you've suffered from joint pain due to a fall or a sprain, your physiotherapist will focus on treating any strains and sprains that you might have. They would also help you learn how to take care of your injury with some home remedies. Other treatments include applying ice packs on the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Chronic fatigue is a medical condition that results from excessive fatigue that lasts for more than six months. This condition affects your strength and energy, making it seem like a heavy burden to do simple tasks and undertake any physical activity.
Chronic fatigue can cause postural imbalances in some people, resulting in pain if the muscles are not equally balanced throughout the body. To treat this, you may be prescribed a series of physiotherapy treatments to improve your posture and balance. For example, physiotherapists can help you develop a workout regime to enhance the strength of your muscles.
Forget Your Pain Today
For most people, the above conditions are unlikely to occur. However, if you suffer from any of the above health issues, you should consult a physiotherapist to rule out and diagnose its cause and recommend appropriate treatment methods.