Should I ice? Heat? Stretch? These are common questions for a Physiotherapist.
Physiotherapy is a primary care, client-focused health profession dedicated to improving quality of life:
- Promoting optimal mobility, physical activity and overall health and wellness
- Assessing, diagnosing and treating physical symptoms and limited movement caused by injury, aging, disability, or other health conditions
- Improving and maintaining optimal functional independence and physical performance
- Rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease or disability with therapeutic exercise programs and other interventions
- Teaching you how to restore, maintain and/or maximize movement, reduce pain, and manage any chronic symptoms
- Teaching you how to stay well, avoid future injury and achieve the best quality of life possible
Physiotherapy is anchored in movement sciences and aims to enhance or restore function of multiple body systems. The profession is committed to health, lifestyle and quality of life. This holistic approach incorporates a broad range of physical and physiological therapeutic interventions and aids.
Physiotherapy services are those that are performed by physiotherapists or any other trained individuals working under a physiotherapist's direction and supervision.
What Types of Treatments/Interventions Does a Physiotherapist Use?
Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises
Range of motion exercises are often prescribed to increase or maintain flexibility of your joints and to reduce stiffness. There several types of range of motion exercises often prescribed including the following:
- Passive Range of Motion (PROM) Exercises
- Active Assistive Range of Motion (AAROM) Exercises
- Active Range of Motion (AROM) Exercices
Certain conditions can make your muscles to become weak. Strengthening exercises are an important part of physiotherapy rehabilitation to prepare you for your return to your original performance level or highest possible function.
Soft Tissue Mobilization
Soft tissue mobilization or therapeutic massage may be a part of your physiotherapy treatment to relax your tight muscles, relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Cold Therapy or Cryotherapy
Cold therapy is effective in minimizing pain and swelling, especially in acute injuries. Examples of cold therapy are ice pack application and ice massage.
Applying heat can help improve your blood flow especially at the site of injury, thus, speeding up healing. In addition, it can help soften tight tissues and relieves pain. There are several heating modalities and devices available including:
- Hot packs
- Paraffin wax bath
Electrical stimulation is used to prevent muscle atrophy in people with paralysis and assist in gaining some degree of muscle strength, such as after a knee surgery. In electrical stimulation, electrodes are placed on the surface of the skin, which can cause muscles to shorten.
TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a type of electrical stimulation. It is a small battery-powered device that sends low current through the electrodes place on the skin surface. A TENS device does not cause the muscles to contract, but rather helps temporarily relieve pain. TENS machines can be purchased in clinic.
A technology that introduces intense, short energy waves travelling faster than sound into the body to create a cascade of beneficial events including the promotoion of tissue healing, breakdown of calcification and tissue adhesions, decrease of pain and increase of function. Shockwave is especially beneficial for the following conditions:
- Plantar fasciitis (with or without heel spur)
- Tendonitis (Achilles, patella)
- Lateral Epicondylitis
- Rotator cuff tendonopathy (with or without calcification)
- Connective tissue pain
- Lateral Hip pain
- IT band syndrome
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Joint Mobilization
- Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)/Dry Needling
- Gait (Walking) Training
- Postural Training
- Ergonomic Training
- Balance Exercises
- Fitting of Braces and Orthotic Devices
- Women's/Pelvic Health
Further Reading: Specialized programs for Hip & Knee Ostoearthritis; Chronic Back Pain; Pelvic Physiotherapy for Pre/post natal conditions and Dance Science.