So Your Doctor Told You to Go To Physiotherapy… Now What?
You are going to physiotherapy for a condition/pain to “become better…” How long would you say it would take until you do, in fact, become better? 3 weeks? 6 weeks? 3 months?
An easy answer would be “well, it would depend on the condition…”
While that may be true, it may not be the only answer. In fact, it may not even be a good answer as it addresses arguably a small percentage of a bigger picture.
One can “do physiotherapy” until the pain subsides, but unless there was a traumatic incident, did you resolve the actual cause? Because if not, then you better believe that pain will come back to haunt you until you get to the root cause. And this is where most people feel that physiotherapy has failed them.
You can have knee pain because of your hip, back or even your foot.
You may not feel anything at all in your hip, back, or foot – they are perfectly fine.
You are in physiotherapy because you have pain in your knee!
A good practitioner will examine and educate you on why your hip/ back/ foot needs to be addressed to get to the root cause of your knee pain. Then, you will need to follow a treatment protocol that addresses your movement patterns and “reprograms” your nervous system, to connect with the right musculature in natural, more efficient synergies or kinetic chains to ultimately address the root cause of that knee pain.
If we are consistently moving in a way that is not advantageous for our body– be it for work, activities of daily living, etc. – and repeating those movement patterns over time, one day, the pain creeps up on us, gets worse and worse, and leaves us asking the question: “Why does this hurt? I didn’t even do anything!”
What most people may not understand, is that the cause of most “insidious pain”, is a result of movement patterns or positions that have been adopted over time and are not necessarily “optimal” in terms of muscular lines of pull and/ or human anatomy.
A typical example of this may be the office worker who spends most of their time on a computer with rounded shoulders, a flexed spine and protruding neck. They may have been doing this every day for years without having any pain until one day, for “no reason at all,” they develop a headache that does not seem to go away.
Another example would be someone who has pain on the inside of the knee that seems to be getting worse over time. A diagnosis may be compromised structures on the inside of the knee (MCL for example), however there was no clear mechanism of injury (a fall, or slip). This may most likely result from underdeveloped hip abductors causing the knee to cave in, which may ultimately be caused by the lower back.
Let us ask the question again… How long would you say it would take doing physio to “become better?”
Based on what you now know, and the examples provided above… Does your answer change?
This article is to shed light on the importance of doing prescribed exercises at home.
We are not merely stretching and strengthening muscles. We are re-educating the nervous system to adapt to healthier movement patterns and connect with the right musculature.
So, you are right – it depends on the condition.
However, it also depends on your adherence to a home exercise program, your focus and willingness to improve, and your dedication to correct your body and movement holistically. It also helps to have the right practitioner 😉
I appreciate your time and truly hope that you got something out of this article.
Yours in health,
Mous the Physio.
Moustafa Korayem, Physiotherapist MPT, BSc Kin
Mous is of Egyptian background and grew up in Saskatoon, SK where his life-long passion for sport and physical activity led him to become a private fitness trainer and group exercise instructor.
Throughout his long career in fitness, Mous went on to earn an Undergraduate degree in Kinesiology – Exercise and Sports Studies, and a Masters degree in Physiotherapy - both at the University of Saskatchewan.
The goal of Mous’ practice is to get individuals moving freely and doing the activities they love easily and pain-free. Highlighting goals and working collaboratively towards achieving them is the key to rehabilitation. Although there are many treatment methods available, Mous believes in prescribing a progressive exercise protocol that focuses on movement quality and strength.
Mous’s deep passion for his profession makes him very excited to educate, and help people recover from pain and injuries long term.