Have you ever wondered what physiotherapy is? I did too. So I looked it up and this is what I found out!
Keep in mind I am NOT a doctor. So please, this is not medical advice. This is only what I learned by researching online. If you have any medical questions, always seek the advice of your primary care physician.
What is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy involves the treatment of injuries, diseases, and deformities employing physical methods, such as heat treatment, massage, and exercise other than by drugs or surgery.
Physiotherapy helps in restoring functions and movement when someone is affected by a disability, an illness, or an injury. It can also assist in the reduction of injury risks or diseases in the future.
Physiotherapy can be beneficial for people of all ages with a variety of health conditions, including problems affecting:
- Brain or nervous system: such as movement problems arising from Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or multiple sclerosis (MS).
- The heart: such as rehabilitation after a heart attack
- The lungs and breathing: such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- The bones, joints, and soft tissue: such as neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and spine injuries.
Physiotherapy can help you improve your physical condition while also assisting in the prevention of further injuries. Physiotherapy is principally delivered by specially trained and regulated practitioners called physiotherapists.
A physiotherapist is a uniquely skilled and licensed medical professional with experience in diagnosing and detecting physical irregularities, promoting physical activity, maintaining physical features, and restoring physical function and mobility.
Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
Some of the conventional treatment techniques used by physiotherapists are discussed below:
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to reduce pain, swelling, muscle spasm, and to promote natural healing and improve functions. It is a technique that originated in China about 5,000 years ago. According to acupuncture theory, chi circulates in the body along twelve major pathways, called meridians, each of these meridians are linked to specific internal organ systems.
The acupuncturist can redirect and reposition the flow of energy (chi) to relieve tension, pain, and stress by inserting sterile-single-use needles at specific points along the meridians. It is often mixed with electrical stimulation.
Manipulation as a physiotherapy technique involves a controlled, small isolated thrust to a joint. The joint is usually fixed at the end of its movement, and the manipulation gives an added stretch to the soft tissues adjacent to the joint. The feeling when this movement takes place is similar to cracking your knuckles, and it makes a popping sound. Manipulation is known to:
- Unlock stock joints
- Relieve cervical headaches.
- Release endorphins (natural pain reliever).
- Reduce protective muscle spasm.
Professionals that make use of this technique are called manipulative physiotherapists.
Mobilization is a technique used by physiotherapists wherein a joint is moved repeatedly either in small or large amplitudes; slowly or fast; gently or firmly or varying durations. This technique aims to restore full joint motion, relieve pain, releases local muscle spasm, release endorphins, etc. This technique differs from manipulation in that they are slower and more repetitive.
This technique involves taking the muscle ligament, tendon, nerve, and any non-bony structure (soft tissue) to the end of its range and holding it there for a specific time.
This technique helps in maintaining flexibility and the repair of soft tissue. Stretching can be static or dynamic. Static stretching involves holding a stretch position for longer than 10 seconds to 30 seconds, depending on what the physiotherapist wants to achieve. Dynamic stretching consists of taking the muscle quickly into a stretch position and off again.
5. Application of heat and ice
Ice helps in combating swelling and inflammation after injury by constricting the blood vessels. Ice or cold packs help in improving joint mobility. Heat, on the other hand, makes soft tissue like ligaments, muscles, and tendons more pliable and also relieves pain.
6. Electro-therapeutic treatments
This technique involves the use of sound, light, and electricity by physiotherapists.
- Light (lasers) can help reduce inflammation and pains.
- Ultrasound: This technique uses high-frequency sound waves to treat grave tissue injuries by stimulating cell activity and blood circulation. This technique reduces spasms, pains, and speeds up the healing process.
Traction as a technique is vital in the treatment of herniated lumbar discs. Traction can alleviate pains without surgery. With friction, physiotherapists can separate vertebrae and relieve compression on the nerves which run down the spine.
8. The myofascial trigger point release
Trigger points usually appear in many myofascial structures including muscles, the skin, tendons, fascia, joint capsules, ligaments, periosteal tissue, and scar tissue. Trigger points in muscles often cause pains, shortening, and weakness. This technique uses a combination of methods such as light sustained pressure, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, etc. some conditions are often misdiagnosed as the cause of pain when trigger points are the primary cause. These conditions include arthritis, tendinitis, angina pectoris, and sciatic symptoms.
9. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
This technique involves a small battery-operated device that is used to deliver an electric current to the affected area to relieve pain.
In conclusion, physiotherapists are very resourceful in terms of using a perfect technique for peculiar cases. The methods above are the most common, but there are others which include: pilates based rehabilitation, soft tissue techniques, etc.