Categories: Orthopaedics

How can Physiotherapy help with recovery?

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a medical treatment that is a combination of injury prevention, rehabilitation, holistic fitness, and sustainable healing. Physio is mostly focused on movement and the science that revolves around it so that it can address any issues that can cause disability or injury; once the issues are sorted, physiotherapy can help patients maximize and restore their vigour and strength (before any further injury).

Physio works with a combination of techniques to regain mobility such as exercises and massages, and these techniques are implemented once the diagnosis is finalized. The diagnosis will tell the patient what treatment plan they should opt for, and the plan should improve their overall well-being and help restore them to their normal (pain-free) routine.

When you are diagnosed and given a treatment plan, you can schedule an appointment with a physical therapist who will help you restore strength and motion after your injury or surgery. These specialists are trained to help you perform specific physical tasks, exercises, and stretches. They have special facilities and equipment that can address all kinds of mobility problems and restore your range of motion.

Why do you need it?

People usually seek out physiotherapy when they’re recovering from a major injury/surgery, and they go through the treatment sessions to relieve the pain that restricts their mobility and strength. Several factors can cause a person to visit a physiotherapist like muscle spasms, wrong posture, muscle strains, or an external factor that can cause an intense injury. Physio will help the patient manage pain and move better; the physiotherapists will also inform them of trigger signs to look for in the future so that they can prevent the injury from happening again. This will also save you from any added pain and corresponding downtime.

Here is the most common reason people go for physio sessions:

  • Preventing major injuries
  • To work on having a good posture (especially if the patient is working a desk job)
  • Alleviate muscle spasms
  • Help with stretching and flexibility of muscles
  • Accelerates the healing process, post-surgery
  • Helps with knee or hip surgery recovery
  • Improves body balance

The advantages of Physiotherapy –

Physiotherapy can provide pain relief to patients of all ages, no matter the variety of injuries or ailments. Once you consult and get help from a licensed physiotherapist, and get a treatment plan that works with your diagnosis, then you’re ensured with a healthy and active life in the future.

  • Relief from pain:

One of the biggest benefits of Physio is the lasting relief from pain. The aches and pains you experience in your body may be due to many reasons, like an injury caused due to sports or chronic lower backaches caused due to age or poor posture. If the pain begins to get in the way of your daily routine, then take it as a sign to schedule an appointment with a physiotherapist. Physio sessions will help reduce the pain and also curb your dependence on painkillers, which can be hazardous to your physical and mental health, in the future.

  • Better balance and mobility:

People who’re recovering from an injury or surgery are usually confined to bed for a long time, so it takes them a while to return to their normal gait. In this case, mobility can be a challenge, and performing daily tasks may seem almost impossible because of the pain; this is where physiotherapy can be of great help. With the help of a good physiotherapist, your body will regain strength, gain mobility/flexibility, and enhance co-ordination as well.

  • Prevention from extensive surgery:

Sometimes surgery is unavoidable, especially if it’s caused by a severe injury. The recovery period after surgery will include a certain amount of physiotherapy because it will help with versatility and flexibility. If you have an injury that doesn’t need surgery, and you want to avoid that experience, you will be offered a variety of treatments based on the diagnosis, and you can choose the treatment you want along with the therapies. Physio helps to heal injured tissues and acts as a catalyst for smooth movement and balance, over time.

  • Manage age-related problems:

As people age, their joints and muscles become weak. This means that they are more prone to injuries and other complications like arthritis and osteoporosis. To tackle these problems, before they get worse, you have to consult with a physiotherapist. The activities suggested during a physio session will improve movement, coordination, and help you walk safely (without injuring yourself further).

  • Avoid any dependency on prescription medicines:

Painkillers may provide instant relief, but when taken for a long period, they might have negative effects on major organs like your kidneys and liver. Also, using prescription meds over the long term may lead to drug abuse, which can be detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health. So, you must take painkillers for a short period, and stop once you find an effective alternative to them. This is where physiotherapy comes in because it’s considered as a safe alternative to opiates.

Problems that require Physiotherapy treatment –

As mentioned before, the need for Physio can be unpredictable, and it can come up at any age, especially if you have experienced any physical trauma like sprains, fractures, invasive surgery, or muscle disorders. Listed below are some physical conditions that require immediate attention from a physiotherapist:

Posture problems like:

  • Lower and upper back pain
  • Stiff neck
  • Shoulder tightness
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Lack of balance in muscles

Joint pain that includes the following:

  • Poorly aligned joints
  • Arthritis
  • Age-related joint pain
  • Bursitis

Surgery recovery:

  • Knee replacement
  • Tendon surgery
  • Lymph node replacement
  • Spinal cord injury surgery

Bruising or Inflammation:

  • Any blunt force trauma that is caused by a sports injury
  • Contusions
  • Muscle swelling
  • Lymphatic congestion

Additional conditions that need physiotherapy:

  • Frozen shoulder
  • Slip disc
  • Stroke
  • Pregnancy-related pain in muscles and joints
  • Cerebral Palsy

What’s the key role of a physiotherapist?

Well, the physiotherapist formulates treatments and exercises that will help you get moving and perform to your best operative capacity. They will help you diagnose your condition and the main reason behind the pain; this will lead to a series of treatments and plans that will work towards eliminating the problem from your system so that you can go back to living a long and healthy life without any pain.

A typical physio consultation will include:

  • The problem areas of the body will be assessed and treated by the Modalities
  • Stretching the muscles
  • Manipulating the joints with the help of equipment or manually
  • A series of physical exercises that will help with circulation and mobility

Types of physio treatments:

Physio consists of various treatment plans and techniques that aim at improving your well-being, especially if you’re suffering from a movement disorder, disease, or injury. After a physical assessment, the therapist will come up with a plan that will include one or a combination of the following therapies:

  • Manipulation:

This treatment includes manipulating the soft tissues in the body, manually. This treatment is considered as the most effective form of physiotherapy, and it’s suitable for patients of all ages. The benefits of this treatment are as follows:

  1. Improving blood circulation across the body
  2. Draining fluid from various parts of the body, this can help avoid bloating and a puffy appearance
  3. Enhance movement and mobility
  4. Helps the body relax while providing relief from chronic pain

This treatment is best for aches and pains that involve the neck, shoulder, and back disorders. They also cure headaches and stress-related issues.

  • Exercise and consistent movement:

Including an exercise program in your therapy sessions is imperative for complete recovery. This is crucial if you are recovering from an injury, and you want to enhance your balance and movement speed. The exercises will depend on your diagnosis, and eventually, they will help you recover fast and in a safe manner.

The exercises are centred on making your muscles and joints strong, improving control over your motor functions, and also preventing injuries in the future. For instance, a combination of mild exercises like walking or swimming is recommended to someone who is recovering from an injury that affects their overall mobility; if someone has suffered an injury that affects a part of their body, then the therapist will give you exercises that will target the specific area.

  • Energy therapy:

This is also called electrotherapy, and it uses various energies, like currents and pulses, that help stimulate your nerves. The impulses that are passed through the muscles make them tight and eases the pain and stress as well; this helps with recovery and complete healing. Contrary to what people think, electrotherapy is pain-free, and you may only feel a slight tingling sensation when undergoing the process. The various types of energy therapy, include:

  • Laser therapy:

This therapy aims at reducing pain and muscle spasms, and it effectively treats any tendon related conditions. Shortwave diathermy: this treatment generates an electromagnetic field that produces heat in the body’s tissues; this will help reduce any swelling and pain.

  • Ultrasound:

High-frequency sound waves are used to treat any deep tissue problems. This is done by stimulating blood circulation and enhancing cell activity. This treatment speeds up healing processes and also reduces muscle spasms.

  • Hydrotherapy:

This form of treatment is done in water, and the temperature is between warm to hot because it lets the muscles relax and also provides relief from pain. The hydrotherapy bath pushes against your body (while you’re floating) and kick starts proper blood circulation to the affected parts of the body.

Choosing the right Physiotherapist:

When it comes to selecting the right physiotherapist, who will work with you and cater to your needs, make sure that you keep these pointers in mind.

  • They should have prior experience in treating your condition.

Not every physiotherapist is alike, they specialize in different parts of the body. While some may focus on Head & Neck others may focus on legs or even spine. Look for someone who specializes in your condition to ensure that they adhere to the best practices.

  • Consider their qualifications.

Since Physiotherapy is like any other medical treatment, it’s important to consider the qualifications of the physio team that is rehabilitating you. Make sure they have the right qualifications to ensure you get the right kind of treatment.

  • Ask them about the treatment methodology.

From exercise, hot and cold packs, hydrotherapy to manipulation, your physio might choose any or a combination of these treatments to help you regain mobility. If you are more comfortable with a certain kind of treatment or looking for anything in particular, make sure to check if they offer the services.

  • Consider your fitness levels

Are you an athlete looking to get back in top shape or are you recovering from an accident? Your physio must be a specialist in the kind of treatment that you are looking for. Physios for high-performance athletes and sports injuries are different from the kind that focuses on rehabilitation from injury. Make sure you understand and define your needs while consulting with a physiotherapist.

Dr. Indumathi, Incharge – Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, HSR Layout, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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