What Does a Physiotherapist Do, and Why Should I See One?
May is Physiotherapy Month. It’s a great time to explain how Physiotherapy can help keep you moving, and what to expect when you see a physiotherapist for treatment.
When we are injured, our bodies often compensate in less than ideal ways. This compensation can mean that things don’t feel right when you return to your favourite activity. A physiotherapist is trained to identify what compensations your body has made, and how to correct them. This is a vital step in your recovery process, and can help minimize your risk of re-injury.
Getting to the root of your injury or condition is the first step in your recovery process. Your physiotherapist will start by listening to you regarding how the injury occurred, how it is limiting you and what your goals are. They will watch you move and test individual muscle strength to find out what is actually causing your pain and limitations.
You may be surprised to learn the broad areas of treatment in which a physiotherapist can help. We treat all areas of muscle and tissue injuries; and many – as in the s at Sun City Physiotherapy – can help with: sports injuries, spine (back and neck) pain, TMJ (jaw) problems, vertigo, scoliosis, pelvic health, concussions, whiplash, work injuries, and others.
If you’ve seen a for a past injury or condition, you may have had manual or manipulative therapy. It’s how we describe our hands-on approach to treatment. However, in some cases – depending on your injury – your physiotherapist may use any combination of the manual therapy with interferential machines, shockwave therapy, intra-muscular stimulation (IMS/dry needling), acupuncture, exercise prescription, or pain management modalities. It all depends on how your therapist assesses your injury, and the rehabilitation plan they develop for you.
Getting back to what you love doing is important. It’s why you are seeking treatment. Your physiotherapist will advise you on how and when you can return to your activity or sport. If it is too soon in your recovery process, your physiotherapist will often recommend alternative activities that will allow you to maintain or improve your fitness level while not making your injury worse.
How long will it take before I’m feeling good again? This is question we hear the most. Although we all wish we had a crystal ball, the reality is that every person’s body and injury will be slightly different. However, a physiotherapist has the knowledge and training to be able to give you a general time frame (weeks vs months) as to how long your recovery will be, and how to go about getting started!
It’s important to remember that in most cases, you do not need a referral to see a physiotherapist, however some insurance plans may require a referral from your doctor. We can answer that question for you when you call to book your appointment.
If you are injured, Physiotherapy can help keep you moving.
Anthony Malbrecht is a registered Physiotherapist practicing at our downtown Kelowna and Lower Mission clinics.
Health and Exercise, Physio Articles
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine, usually diagnosed in adolescents; often without a known cause.
What is Scheuermann’s Kyphosis?
It is a (hyper)kyphosis; a spinal deformity that leads to a more rounded appearance of one’s upper back (sometimes referred to as a “roundback” or “hunchback”)
What does this look like; and what does that mean for me or my child?
It means that you may have noticed some differences in the appearance of your child or yourself as compared to peers: uneven hips, waist, and/or shoulders, a “sticking out” spot on the ribs and/or back, a shoulder blade that doesn’t match the other side. You or your child may also experience increasing symptoms as the condition progresses, such as pain, breathing difficulty, osteoarthritis, mental health problems, and decreased health-related quality of life.
What is Schroth?
Schroth exercises are an evidence-supported, set of physiotherapeutic scoliosis specific exercises (PSSE). They are aimed at preventing the progression of the spinal curve, or to optimize post surgical results. Studies have shown that Schroth is effective for decreasing pain, improving quality of life, increasing back muscle endurance and range of motion, and improving self-image.
Does timing matter?
Early detection and care planning are very important. The options for, and effectiveness of treating a scoliosis or kyphosis vary with stages of skeletal maturity. If you suspect you, your child or teen has scoliosis or kyphosis, it is important to get it screened by a professional such as a doctor or physiotherapist.
What should I expect when signing up for Schroth therapy?
- Assessment of your posture/curve and movement
- Education about your scoliosis/kyphosis
- Specific Exercises, positions and postures to practice at home
- Monitoring your scoliosis/kyphosis
Scoliosis and Kyphosis management is a team approach which includes your family doctor (observation, monitoring, and care coordination), physiotherapist (physiotherapeutic scoliosis specific exercises), orthotist (bracing), and surgeon (surgery).
The phrase “no pain, no gain” would probably be the leading misconception about pain that I hear – live by this slogan at your own risk. Why? Because first and foremost, pain is a protector. Pain is a wonderful and fascinating perception that helps to keep us out of danger. I can certainly sympathise that when you’re experiencing persistent or intense pain, its hard to see it as “wonderful” or “fascinating” but it truly is a remarkable defence mechanism that we possess.
When you step on a nail, twist your knee or tweak your back, what comes to your defence first? The simple answer is pain. It’s your first warning of actual or even potential tissue damage. Yes, that’s correct – “potential” tissue damage, meaning your body is smart enough to tell you to withdraw from danger before the damage is done. Wow! When tissue damage does occur, such as a strained ligament, tendon or muscle, your body sends all its best healing products to the area in the form of ‘inflammation’. The brilliance of inflammation is that it increases the sensitivity of the danger detectors (receptors) in the damaged area, which send more danger messages to the brain where they are processed and a pain experience can result. What do you think of that? Essentially, your body doesn’t just heal you with inflammation but it also tells you about it through the feeling of pain as a way of changing your behavior, allowing the area to rest and heal more effectively.
If you understand that the experience of pain is a critical response when the body feels threatened or in danger, then you will see how the slogan “no pain, no gain” will quickly lead you astray. Instead, us ‘pain geeks’ like to encourage the slogan – “know pain or no gain”, meaning that if you understand why you are experiencing pain and what it means, you are more likely to adopt the appropriate behaviour to encourage recovery.
The story of pain can get rather complex but equally as fascinating. Like any of our body systems, our defence systems can sometimes get a bit carried away and malfunction. This is often the case in the event of persistent pain – a story that will have to wait for another time. Until then, remember “know pain or no gain”.
Nick Black is a registered Physiotherapist at Sun City Physiotherapy Winfield.
BODY ROLLING: A new way to enhance flexibility and well being.
How often do you get a tight area in your back that you’d love to get rid of? Or a tense band in your buttock or hamstring that has plagued you for weeks?
Have you noticed that your shoulders round forward, and you’re tight across the back of your shoulders?
The nagging tight spots we feel can be the result of restricted mobility or adhesions in fascia, the elastic web of connective tissue that surrounds and connects muscles.
There is a technique to improve flexibility that is easy, inexpensive and works extremely well in conjunction with stretching to improve myofascial mobility. It’s called Body Rolling, and it’s a powerful self-treatment tool using a firm 5” diameter ball. It is similar to using foam rollers, which are popular in gyms. Because of its size and compressibility, it is useful in areas other tools can’t reach.
Body Rolling techniques combine the relaxing effects of massage with the toning effects of exercise. Working with your own body weight, the exercises ease movement by loosening the muscles and their surrounding fascia, with the benefits of a deep self-massage. It can take as little as 10 minutes to work a specific area, and you can do it at your convenience. Working an entire region or chain of muscles gives the best results, since fascia is connected in long tracts that can span more than one joint.
The techniques of Body Rolling can: free adhesions in the connective tissue sheath that wraps around muscles and lies between muscle fibres; help muscles lengthen; improve muscle flexibility and tone thereby improving range of motion and shock absorption in the joints; improve circulation; and assist in correction of faulty posture
People with an active lifestyle often come in to see a physiotherapist with unexplained pain in a muscle, tendon or joint. Physiotherapists look at posture, movement and perform selective tissue tension testing to determine the problem. As a physiotherapist, I use many tools, such as manual therapy, exercise and soft tissue releases to improve freedom of movement.
With exercise that is highly repetitive in nature such as running, cycling, rowing, racquet sports, fascia surrounding the working muscles tends to be loaded in one direction and can subsequently shorten. Movement patterns and normal posture can be altered, which can lead to injury and pain. Learning to use Body Rolling, and stretching along planes of movement, rather than spot-treating tight areas can free things up most effectively.
People working at a desk job every day tend to develop shortening in certain muscle groups– typically the pectoral muscles, the hip flexors, and the hamstring muscles. Over time, this can result in adaptive shortening. The price tag of a desk job can be poor posture, aches and pains at the end of the workday. Activity breaks and Body Rolling can help.
Hips and Knees, Physio Articles
Hip osteoarthritis is a common condition that involves the degeneration of the articular cartilage of the hip joint. If you have this condition and are noticing an increase in pain and a decrease in physical function you may be wondering what treatment options are available to you.
With osteoarthritis of the hip you may feel a constant ache localized to the groin and side of your hip and sometimes extending into the front of your thigh and knee. The hip often feels stiff, especially first thing in the morning when you get out of bed and it can make activities of daily living much more painful including standing, walking and stairs. It can also make it difficult to put your socks on, get into and out of your car and even get on and off of the toilet.
Stiffness, pain and having difficulty with many previously easy daily activities may lead you to want to do less physical activity. The trouble is, not moving will often lead to weakness, further stiffness and general deconditioning.
A physiotherapist can help design a treatment program with a focus on decreasing pain, increasing range of motion and flexibility, improving core stability, gaining muscle strength and endurance and improving general conditioning. Other functional goals often include improving walking pattern, speed and distance, ability to go up and down stairs without pain and better control going from sit to stand.
This is often accomplished through a combination of education, manual therapy and exercise. An exercise program is often extremely beneficial to help improve physical function and decrease pain. A physiotherapist is an excellent resource to put together a safe and effective home exercise program for you to perform daily at home or at your local gym. Also, if you enjoy swimming, bring this up with your physiotherapist as aquatic exercise is a great form of treatment for hip osteoarthritis.
Other possible physiotherapy treatments that may be effective for some individuals with arthritis of the hip include: acupuncture, massage, heat on the muscles around the hip, ice, TENS, supportive footwear and/or a gait aid such as a cane or walking poles. It is important to talk with your doctor about your arthritis to discuss other treatments that may be beneficial to help manage your symptoms. Certain medications may be helpful, but it is important to bring this up with your doctor to be sure they are appropriate for you. Also, if you are overweight, a weight management program can be extremely beneficial to decrease the stress on your joints. Since nutrition plays a crucial role in weight management, it is important to have this discussion with your doctor.
A small portion of individuals with hip osteoarthritis will eventually opt to have a total hip replacement. This is often the case when symptoms are progressively getting worse and significantly limiting activities of daily living. If you have had a total hip replacement a physiotherapist guided post-operative hip strengthening program is ideal in order to decrease pain, improve your hip function and return to your active lifestyle.
Krista Smith is a Registered Physiotherapist and associate at Sun City Physiotherapy’s downtown, St. Paul Street location. She can be contacted at 250-861-8056 or email firstname.lastname@example.org