Physiotherapy is an extremely wide field of study. As such, people often get confused about what is physiotherapy when it comes to health care and how it relates to other forms of physical therapy such as physical medicine or rehabilitation. To help make things a bit clearer, we are going to take a look at the different areas of this broad field and see how they can be classified thanks to our physio’s in Drummoyne.
Generally speaking, physiotherapy deals with the movement of human body parts. This movement can include exercises for strengthening muscles, flexibility and balance. It may also include other techniques like joint mobilization, manipulation and acupuncture. Physiotherapists work with patients in hospitals and other private clinics, as well as with some government health agencies.
Many people who go to Ashfield physio will do so because they have pain or injury. Physiotherapy is also often used to manage long-term health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
Some physiotherapists focus mainly on manual treatments. This includes massage therapy, which uses pressure applied to the soft tissues of the body. This is a great way to relax muscles, increase circulation, break up scar tissue and alleviate pain. Another treatment is joint mobilization, which uses measured movements of varying speed, force and distances (known as ‘amplitude’) to twist or move joints in order to ease muscle tightness and stiffness in the surrounding tissue. This can be done to a single or a group of joints.
Another important aspect of physiotherapy is helping the patient to understand their pain and why it occurs. This can involve explaining what happens in the nervous system when you experience pain and how it can affect the body’s ability to cope with pain. This can be particularly helpful for patients with chronic conditions such as COPD and arthritis.
Sometimes pain can be triggered by emotions and a change in nerve sensitivity. This is a common reason why some people continue to suffer from persistent lower back pain, for example. The therapist will often try to re-establish normal movement patterns in the spine and help patients build up resilience in the area again.
Pain management is a very important element of physiotherapy, and the therapist will often encourage patients to exercise within manageable levels of pain. This can be achieved through ‘gradually increasing activities’ or using psychological strategies such as pacing, where the patient learns to stop doing an activity when it starts to cause pain.
Other physiotherapy techniques and treatments can include TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) therapy, which involves placing electrodes on the skin to deliver low-grade electricity through the body’s muscles, thereby relieving pain for short periods of time. Other techniques include heat and cold therapies, acupuncture, dry needling and ultrasound. These are usually given in combination with exercise to aid recovery and improve the chances of a good outcome. Physiotherapy can be beneficial for almost anyone with a health condition, injury or disability. It can help to relieve pain, improve mobility and quality of life, and reduce dependence on drugs or surgery.