Eight signs you may need physiotherapy

Physiotherapy isn’t just for athletes or those recovering from an injury. While it’s useful in these situations, they aren’t the only times you can benefit from seeing a physiotherapist.

If you experience pain or discomfort, physiotherapy could help, as it can treat whatever is going wrong at the source. This doesn’t mean that every ache or sore muscle needs physiotherapy, but continued pain or physical issues could benefit from physiotherapy.

If you’re not sure if you could benefit from physiotherapy, here are some signs that suggest it could help you.

1. Recurring pain

A lot of people with pain push through it and carry on with their everyday lives, giving it the chance to get worse. You may find that your pain comes and goes, so you simply put up with it when it comes and enjoy the respite when it goes, no matter how uncomfortable it gets.

Whether you often have a bad back or regular neck pain, suffer from muscle imbalances or find you strain your muscles fairly regularly, physiotherapy can help. Physiotherapy will look at the cause of the pain and aim to target it, helping you feel more comfortable and reducing the risk of flare-ups.

2. Chronic (long-term) pain

Sometimes injuries don’t heal as expected and what should have been short-term pain — such as a sprained ankle — can become chronic pain.

In this case, a physiotherapist can assess the problem and give you exercises to help target the cause of your pain. This will allow your body to heal while also making you more comfortable.

3. Balance and coordination

If you struggle with balance and coordination, you may end up with injuries from falling or tripping over. The problem can get worse over time, putting you at risk of more serious injuries as you get older.

There are a number of different causes of balance issues. A physiotherapist can help determine whether it’s a problem with your muscles or other soft tissues, such as your ligaments or tendons. If this is the case, they can help retrain your body to improve your balance and coordination.

4. Trouble sleeping

Sleep can be a good indicator of your physical wellbeing. If you struggle to get comfortable when sleeping, have a fitful night's sleep or often wake up feeling exhausted, there could be a physical problem that needs to be resolved.

From back pain and joint pain to muscle problems, many factors can affect your sleep. Physiotherapy can help reduce discomfort so you start sleeping better.

5. Mobility issues

If you’ve lost flexibility or find that you’re often feeling stiff, it could be time to see a physiotherapist. While you’ll likely see some decline in mobility as you get older, physiotherapy can help strengthen the tissues that support your joints, as well as relax your muscles. This will improve your flexibility over time and help protect you against future mobility problems.

6. Old injuries

If you’ve previously injured yourself, you may find that the injury flares up every now and then. You may be fine for an extended period of time only to find that a certain activity or environment, such as cold weather, makes it painful again.

This may be because the injury didn’t heal correctly when it first occurred. Physiotherapy can help with both new injuries and older ones by reducing pain and stopping them flaring up.

7. Headaches

While it’s a good idea to get your eyes tested if you experience recurring headaches, they could also be caused by muscle tension. Chronic headaches can be a sign of muscle tension in your neck and/or back.

Physiotherapy can help you release this tension, as well as provide you with exercises to stop it coming back. Not only will this reduce your chances of neck and back pain, but it could also help keep headaches at bay. 

8. Uncontrollable urination

Urinary incontinence is very common, with millions of people in the UK affected. There are different types of urinary incontinence, including:

  • Overflow incontinence — when you can’t completely empty your bladder, resulting in frequent leaking
  • Stress incontinence — urine leaks when your bladder experiences pressure, such as when you sneeze or laugh
  • Total incontinence — when your bladder can’t store any urine so you suffer from frequent leaking
  • Urge incontinence — your urine leaks when you feel a sudden urge to urinate or just after this feeling

You may have more than one type of incontinence. Physiotherapy can help reduce the symptoms of stress and urge incontinence through pelvic floor exercises. These exercises target and strengthen the group of muscles at the base of your pelvis, which support your bladder, bowel, and in women, your womb. 

However, if you suddenly experience urinary incontinence, particularly alongside intense lower back pain or leg pain, contact your GP — you may have a serious underlying problem, such as cauda equina syndrome (a type of spinal stenosis).

We hope you've found this article useful, however, it cannot be a substitute for a consultation with a specialist

If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.

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Author Information

Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.

The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor

Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.