The Different Physiotherapy Techniques & Approaches

Patients who are injured, ill or disabled may find that they can benefit from the services of a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists aim to restore a person’s movement and function to its optimal level. Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy or P.T., takes a holistic approach to healing, in the sense that the patient is actively involved in his own care.

Physiotherapists are professionals who have studied and trained in the healthcare field. There are a variety of areas in which they can specialize. These include education and health promotion, care of the elderly, pediatrics, workplace health, sports, orthopedics and trauma, recovery after major surgery, gender-specific health issues (such as incontinence), long-term conditions, neurology (including stroke), mental health and intensive care. Many physiotherapists work as part of a team that spans several of these areas. Physiotherapists can be found practicing in public and private hospitals, workplaces, charitable organizations, sports clinics, athletic teams and community-based organizations.

Physiotherapists provide therapy in four main areas of the body’s functioning: respiratory, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal. The respiratory system refers to the breathing organs, such as the lungs, larynx and windpipe. The cardiovascular system deals with the heart and blood circulation. The neuromuscular system involves the brain and nervous system. Bones, joints and soft tissue are all included in the musculoskeletal system. Physiotherapy can help with more areas of the body’s functioning than many people realize.

There are a variety of approaches and techniques that physiotherapists utilize in helping their patients recover from surgery or regain movement and function in their joints and muscles. Exercise and movement is the most obvious one, and it’s important for the therapist to take into account the patient’s current health, physical fitness and any special requirements. Manual therapy techniques involve the physiotherapist using her hands (such as by massage) to relieve stiffness or pain and get blood flowing in a particular part of the body.

Aquatic therapy is when the movement or exercises are conducted in a shallow swimming pool or hydrotherapy pool. This type of therapy can often be enjoyable and uniquely effective because of the specialized properties of water that allow even the elderly to experience a wider range of motion. Other physiotherapy techniques include acupuncture, as well as the application of heat and cold to ease pain.

Back pain is the most common ailment that physiotherapists deal with, as it affects 80 percent of the population at some point in their lives. Back pain can be caused by things like lifting or carrying an object incorrectly, standing for long periods of time, overstretching, twisting or bending awkwardly, an inherited spinal deformity or simply having poor posture.

A physiotherapist will take into account your particular case before recommending a treatment, as well as suggesting ways to alleviate discomfort and pain yourself on a daily basis. For example, lower back pain is extremely common, and a physiotherapist may suggest some core stability exercises, as well as showing you how to improve your posture, in order to strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles.

Using Physiotherapy to Treat Back Pain

Back Pain is Prevalent

Back pain, particularly lower back pain, is very prevalent world-wide. It affects millions of people across the world and, in fact, some estimates claim between 60 and 80 percent of people are affected by back pain within their lives. Back pain can be acute and sharp, coming on suddenly and lasting for a few days to a few weeks, or it can be a chronic problem. When back pain lasts for more than three months, it is considered chronic. Chronic back pain is often described as a constant, dull pain.

What Causes Back Pain?

Back pain can be caused by many various things, but the most common causes involve aging, stress, illness, injury, and disease. Lack of exercise can also cause the back to become weak and increase pain in the area. When the vertebrae, discs, muscles, and ligaments in the back are not working in coordination with each other properly, pain is often the result, whether it is acute pain or a dull, chronic problem.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy, otherwise known as physical therapy, is the treatment of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of functional ability, mobility, and quality of life. It can also be defined as the process by which ill, injured, or disabled individuals are assisted in recovering function and movement via a holistic approach, thereby improving their quality of life and relieving pain. Physical therapy is performed by educated and informed physical therapists who consult with patients and decide what types of physical interventions the patients may benefit from in order to relieve their pain and restore mobility. It can include various treatments such as massage, application of heat and/or cold, stretching, exercise, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, and acupuncture. A physical therapist looks carefully at a patient’s diagnosis and comes up with a plan involving treatments specific to the patient.

Can Physiotherapy Help Back Pain?

Physiotherapy is an excellent treatment for back pain because it provides a holistic approach and goes a long way in restoring movement and relieving pain in many people. It can also reduce or eliminate the need for pain-relieving medications. The physiotherapist will examine your lifestyle and assess your mobility. He or she will assess where your weaknesses lie, observe your movement, and try to pinpoint what types of movements are aggravating your back. Then, a physical therapy plan is proposed in order to help alleviate the back pain.

Massage and other treatments one may encounter during physical therapy, such as the application of heat on the location of the pain, encourage and increase blood and fluid circulation, reduce swelling, and ease pain. Strengthening exercises make the back stronger, restoring movement and flexibility. Various stretching exercises can greatly relieve back pain, particularly lower back pain, and also work to strengthen the back and increase flexibility. These treatments and many others work in combination to achieve alleviation of back pain.

A Brief History of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy, like the rational approach to medicine, was founded in ancient Greece. Hippocrates, widely regarded as the founding father of Western medicine, practiced massage therapy as a treatment for physical healing and stress relief as early as 460 BC. Other Greek physicians, such as Hector, wrote about a variety of physical therapy techniques that are still in use today, such as hydrotherapy. The Greeks, however, were not the only people practicing physical therapy; ancient writings from Persia, China and Egypt also describe the benefits of exercise, movement and massage for ailments.

For centuries, the field of physical therapy saw relatively little advancement. Change was slow, until the founding of a physical therapy group in England in the late 19th century. A group of nurses started the group to educate others about the practice, its benefits and techniques. In 1914, the practice spread to Washington D.C., where physical therapy techniques were used to help rehabilitate soldiers wounded in the First World War.

Following increased research in the field, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) was formed in 1921. The association’s published medical journals were soon regarded as an ultimate authority on the subject, and interest in the field continued to grow through the United States and world.

An outbreak of polio in the 1920s placed increased demand on physical therapists, which lead to more breakthroughs in treatment techniques. Additional improvements were seen in the following several decades as a result of increased medical and surgical knowledge.

Until the Second World War, most physical therapies were done in hospitals on patients recovering from surgeries, injuries or other conditions. Specialty physical therapy clinics were founded during the war to provide treatment for the thousands of wounded soldiers that needed rehabilitation following hospital stays. This transition to outpatient care represented the growing popularity of physical therapy. In the late 1960s, the practice became widely accepted in the medical field and was included in basic medical coverage through many government programs and insurance policies.

During the next two decades, the profession of physical therapy increasingly diversified. Specializations, such as cardiopulmonary physical therapy, skin therapy, neurological therapy and sports therapy, were recognized by APTA , and the discipline continued to become more widely regarded.

Today, physiotherapy is used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. Patients may seek treatment for back pain, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, bursitis, muscle strains, Guillain-Barre syndrome, balance conditions, asthma, fibromyalgia, wounds, burns, rheumatoid arthritis and a host of other conditions. The goals of physiotherapy depend on the patient’s unique needs, but common desired outcomes include a reduction in pain, increased range of motion, increased endurance and strength, restored independence, a reduction in stress and a greater quality of life for the patient.

Treatment methods also vary per the patient’s needs and goals, but may include electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage, passive joint mobilization, exercises, stretches and the application of heat or cold. Physical therapists may also educate patients on how to use and adapt to mobilization devices, such as wheelchairs, crutches or walkers.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Physiotherapy?

Thousands of people have benefited from physiotherapy for various injuries and health problems. A physiotherapist is a skilled professional that can provide treatment to assist with neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary and cardiac problems affecting adults, children and the elderly.

As educated and trained health professionals, physiotherapists combine knowledge of how the body moves with specialized clinical skills to evaluate, diagnose, and treat symptoms of injury, illness, or disability. The goal a physiotherapist is to restore, maintain, and maximize patient strength, function, movement, and overall health and well-being.

Physiotherapists can be found working in sports organizations, hospitals, outpatient clinics, sports clubs, and in physiotherapy clinics. They help patients regain their strength, regain their range of movement, and support patients with permanent disabilities to increase function and prevent further injury.

Physiotherapy Treatment

A physiotherapist can be a part of a health care team or work exclusively with a patient. The initial meeting between a patient and physiotherapist will include an assessment of the patient, determining the degree of the patient’s problem or condition, learning about the cause of the patient’s problem, and determining a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s unique needs.

Physiotherapists create personalized therapeutic exercises to restore patient mobility and independence. Physical exercises prescribed are designed build muscle strength and muscle tone. These therapists can employ manipulation techniques such as guided stretching and massage, as well as offer nutritional advice. Manual therapy involves using the hands to mobilize joints and soft tissues. It can be used to improve circulation, help fluid drain from parts of the body, improve movement of different parts of the body, and relieve pain and help relaxation. They also use equipment such as heat packs, ice packs, exercise equipment, ultrasound, and electrotherapy to alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and improve range of movement. Ultrasound involves high-frequency sound waves that can treat deep tissue injuries by stimulating blood circulation and cell activity. It helps to reduce pain and muscle spasm and speed up healing.

A physiotherapist can advise on treatment for symptoms such as paralysis, weakness on one side of the body, and abnormal muscle tone, and can work with a patient to overcome or manage such conditions. They also offer advice on preventative care and body conditioning which are designed to prevent further injuries. Patients with cardiopulmonary problems provide therapeutic treatments to help patients better perform their daily activities with a higher endurance level and less shortness of breath.

The physiotherapy treatment plan implemented is designed to restore movement and reduce pain, as well as and limitations to mobility. They treat the condition and help the client understand its impact on their function so the patient can work to manage their condition independently. Throughout the treatment program, patient progress is evaluated at regular intervals, and the treatment is modified when necessary.

Types of Physiotherapy Treatment

Physiotherapists use a number of treatments based on the patient’s condition and needs. This can include: exercise programs that includes water exercise programs, massage, joint manipulation and mobilization to reduce pain and stiffness, muscle re-education, airway clearance techniques, breathing exercises, assistance with the use of therapeutic aids such as wheelchairs, splints, canes, and crutches. Aquatic therapy improves blood circulation, alleviates pain, and relaxes muscles.

Specialized Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists also work in such specialized areas as: women’s health, pediatrics, geriatrics, and can focus on a specific medical area or multiple areas such as: helping manage physical complications of cancer and its treatment, physical symptoms associated with arthritic condition, sports injuries, stroke rehabilitation, and repetitive strain injuries. Treatment areas can include:  back and neck pain, spinal cord injury, head injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and post-surgical rehabilitation such as hip replacement. Areas where physiotherapy is used also includes cardiorespiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia, cardiac rehabilitation, and Cystic Fibrosis. Looking at all of the ways that physiotherapy can help a patient, it is no surprise that physiotherapy is such a popular and important therapy.

The Basics Behind Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can help restore normal function in your body when you are experiencing pain or illness. A physiotherapist is capable of helping a patient with problems regarding bones, the heart and lungs, neurological conditions and old age. Physiotherapists are specially trained to help diagnose problems and devise plans for treatment that include movement, massage, manipulation, and support for chronic conditions. This type of healthcare professional is often found working in hospitals, clinics and private practices. A physiotherapist is a holistic practitioner, meaning that he or she looks at an individual’s lifestyle, as well as his or her presenting issues, when meeting for a consultation.

It is first necessary to set up a consultation with a physio when seeking treatment. He or she will look at your medical history, presenting symptoms, lifestyle choices and general level of wellness before diagnosing your condition. At this point, the physiotherapist will help come up with a plan for treatment of your symptoms. You can expect to have a full review of all of these factors before the physio will develop a plan. The plan can include things that are done within the office, such as massage, as well as things that you can do outside of the office to help your condition.

Common treatment practices for therapists include manipulation of the body, which means rearranging the soft tissues through chiropractic techniques and massage. This is done within the office and can have an impact on headaches, neck and back pain, and relaxation. Movement is also widely used, which can mean setting up an exercise program for you that will slowly help to change your symptoms. If you recently had a heart attack, a physio can show you proper exercises to perform to help your heart become healthy once again. This is also used for joint and bone problems that can occur throughout your life due to various factors including old age.

Energy therapy is another treatment utilized to help you heal. Energy therapy is a way of transferring small amounts of electric energy into your body to stimulate areas that are causing problems. This is also done with lasers and sound waves. This is performed by physios who have been specially trained in this area of treatment, and can help with a multitude of symptoms from nerve pain to muscle spasms. Hydrotherapy involves the use of water for its healing properties, and can include soaking in hot water-filled tubs that can ease tension and help sore muscles.

Since physiotherapy is a holistic type of healthcare, the practitioner will look at your lifestyle and wellness practices in order to help you with your issues. You might be experiencing pain due to something that you do every day, such as carrying items incorrectly. It is also possible to injure yourself through everyday exercise or tension. A helpful practitioner will show you the correct way to do these things so that you do not injure yourself in the process, and teach you relaxation techniques that you can use at home.

Tips on Choosing a Physiotherapist

If it hurts to move, you probably need a physiotherapist to help heal your body. This type of practitioner can only help if he or she has all the requirements necessary to be effective at physiotherapy, which is why you need to research a few details before you make a decision. Learn what to look for as you browse doctors.

Check the Qualifications

You should first make sure the doctor you choose has the proper education for this field. Make sure he or she has graduated from an accredited physiotherapy program. You should then find out if the practitioner you are considering is part of any associations that many doctors belong to, as professional groups offer benefits that include continuing education in this field. In addition, it is important to make sure the doctor you are researching is registered to practice physiotherapy in this country, as this is a requirement.

Find a Doctor with the Specialty You Need

Even the top physiotherapists are not considered equal since many of them have a specialty or two. You should choose the one with the specialty that best suits your needs. For example, if you injured yourself during a sport, you should choose a doctor who specializes in sports physiotherapy, while a cardio-respiratory specialist may be best if your condition mostly involves the heart or lungs.

There are also doctors of this type who specialize in hand rehabilitation, geriatric care, and incontinence treatment. Joint and muscle issues may call for a manual therapy specialist, while injuries involving the brain or spine may be best served by an expert on neurophysiotherapy. Clearly, there are a lot of options, so it is helpful to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Get to Know Office Policies

Even the most qualified physiotherapist will not make you happy if you disagree with the office’s rules, including cancellation fees and appointment availability. You should also make sure the staff is generally friendly and helpful, as dealing with employees who are rude can make you dread your physiotherapy appointments. You should feel like a valued patient when you walk into the office. If not, it’s time to find a new doctor since there are plenty to choose from.

Get Reviews

Some doctors look good on paper, but lack the proper bedside manner. You can find out how pleasant and helpful a doctor really is by talking to past patients when possible. You should also ask your friends and relatives for recommendations to practitioners they like, and consider reading reviews online to help you narrow down your options. Checking out reviews can help you avoid wasting your time on a physiotherapy professional who does not meet your qualifications.

You can get most of this information by simply checking the website of each physiotherapist you are considering, as these facts should be on the site. If not, you can do an online search to find them. You can also call the office or even visit to get more information.

How Physiotherapy Can Help You

A physiotherapist is the right medical professional to consult for conditions that limit mobility or independence, especially if that condition can be improved with physiotherapy.

Physiotherapists are health care professionals whose job it is to help patients improve or restore physical mobility, physical independence, health, and wellness. Primary training for physiotherapists focuses on body movement. These medical professionals understand not only how the body moves, but the problems that can develop to limit mobility. When there is body mobility impairment, they are trained to know how to restore or improve body mobility.

Physiotherapists help patients manage an array of conditions that affect many different body systems including the nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system, and musculoskeletal system.

Physiotherapists help improve the mobility of people with health problems including spinal conditions, joint conditions, lung conditions, and heart conditions. These medical professionals help people suffering from different types of chronic pain including back pain and neck pain to find pain relief through physiotherapy. Physiotherapists also treat chronic pain, mobility limitations and wellness problems caused by different types of injuries, including work-related injuries, accident-related injuries and sports-related injuries.

Physiotherapists are also trained to help patients suffering from chronic medical conditions, like cerebral palsy and spina bifida, by helping the patients to increase mobility and as a result gain more independence.

Physiotherapists may also be a part of the treatment team for cancer patients and patients with brain injuries. Additionally, these medical professionals can help with a variety of other medical conditions including incontinence and stress injuries.

When a patient goes to see a physiotherapist, the physiotherapist will first examine a patient to determine her levels of mobility, endurance, and strength. This examination can include a health history review, pain evaluation, range of motion evaluation and any additional assessments necessary for the physiotherapist to diagnose the patient’s condition.

The physiotherapist uses this information to form a diagnosis. With the help of the patient, the physiotherapist will then form a treatment plan and goals for treatment. These goals can include things like an end to incontinence for a patient being treated for that condition. Depending on the patient’s condition, treatment may be in the physiotherapist’s office or in the patient’s home. The physiotherapist may request that the patient perform certain exercises at home in between physiotherapy sessions.

The treatments can involve a variety of components. including strengthening exercises and therapeutic exercises. Strengthening and therapeutic exercises are body movements prescribed to improve mobility, and flexibility. These exercises can help correct muscle imbalances and improve muscle alignment. Physiotherapist may also through manual therapy help patients reduce pain and increase mobility. Some physiotherapists are also trained in acupuncture and include acupuncture as a part of their plan to improve a patient’s overall wellness.

Over the course of physiotherapy, patients will see themselves moving closer to the goals they set with the physiotherapists. Proof of progress can include outcomes like, returning to work, returning to a sports team, walking or running further, increased strength, increased endurance, increased motion, decreased pain intensity, improved body functions, and improved quality of life.