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Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment which has now been adapted for Western therapies, including Physiotherapy.
It has been scientifically proven that acupuncture can help manage a variety of conditions ranging from headaches and back pain, to allergies and addictions such as smoking. Physiotherapists that practice acupuncture have undertaken additional postgraduate training to learn this ancient skill. Typically Physiotherapists use acupuncture to help with pain relief, to encourage tissue repair, or for trigger point release, to treat a variety of different conditions. Acupuncture is often used in conjunction to other techniques.
The treatment involves using small sterile needles placed just under the skin into the muscle. This can often not only be around the painful or injured area, but also at points further away which have specific properties such as to relieve pain.
Needles are usually positioned along 'meridians' which relate to specific organs of the body and are recognised in Chinese medicine as having specific properties. By positioning needles in this way, your therapist will be able to increase or decrease the way hormones and pain relieving chemicals behave in your body, this in turn helps to reduce pain, encourage healing and blood flow to tissue. Treatment time is often only for a short period of time, starting from 10-15 minutes, but can be increased for up to 30 minutes. Point selection and treatment duration in acupuncture varies depending on each individual, as our bodies all react differently even though we may have the same problem.
Electrotherapy encompasses a variety of different modalities that physiotherapists can use to help manage pain relief, accelerate healing or reduce the formation of scar tissue. Treatment is usually given using equipment that uses electrical energy to change pain signals or alter tissue healing, these usually include TENs, Ultrasound or Pulse short wave.
If your therapist feels that this equipment is appropriate for you then they will explain how they work and what you should expect to feel prior to commencing treatment. There are some conditions in which it is advisable not to use these machines, so please inform your therapist when you start treatment if you are pregnant, have osteoporosis, metal joint replacements or a pacemaker.
Physiotherapists realise the key to a successful recovery is not only reducing pain, improving movement or accelerating healing, but it is also important to regain muscle strength, joint awareness and balance skills; all these features of the human body we take for granted, are often affected by injury or pain.
When our body is in pain, be it through injury or illness, it can change the way that our muscles behave. It often makes them weaker, tighter or de-conditioned. This is why after, for example a cold, it can take you a while to get back to your usual level of fitness.
Physiotherapists are trained to identify which muscles have been affected by your condition. As part of your treatment plan they may include specific exercises for you to undertake to help regain strength, flexibility and condition to the muscle and the joints it supports. As part of this, it is usual for your therapist to ask you to continue these exercises through your day. We all know that practice makes perfect and this also applies to the recovery of muscles and joints.
Joints in the body can often become stiff and painful. Physiotherapists are able to create small pressure forces using their hands by positioning them onto the joint and then gently pushing on the joint to restore movement (e.g. spine, knee cap, shoulder). This type of movement cannot be achieved by exercise or stretching alone. The application of this technique can, over time, help to improve the health of tissues, restore motion and reduce pain.
Manipulation is applied to stiff joints with limited movement which are not pain generating.
Manipulation is often used in the small joints of the neck or the larger lumbar spine to restore movement. During a manipulation your therapist will move the stiff joint to a point where it is ‘locked’ and no longer moves freely. Applying a short sharp thrust ‘unlocks’ the joint enabling it to move more freely. Often patients hear a clicking or a popping sound as air pressure is realised from the stiff joint.
Pregnancy massage can be a wonderful way to ease an aching back or stiff shoulders or any other aches and pains you may be experiencing during your pregnancy, leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed. As well as being relaxing and a lovely way to spoil yourself, a pregnancy massage is great for the emotional and physiological well-being for both mother and baby.
It can help to:
Sports Massage is a deep tissue massage that loosens tight muscles and breaks down adhesions in muscle fibres. It aids your recovery from injuries or after surgery or it can be used as part of your training programme in connection with a warm up or a cool down.
Sports massage is not just for sportsmen or women! It can also be used as an adjunct to your normal physiotherapy treatment or simply to relieve muscle tension or treat repetitive strain injuries, which everyone experiences from time to time.
Trigger points are the small gritty little knots we often feel in our shoulder and neck area. These can often become pain generating. Physiotherapy can help to relax the tissue around this area encouraging blood flow into the ‘knot’; this is often achieved by applied pressure to the area, encouraging the muscle to relax and increasing blood flow. As the ‘knot’ releases the muscle can then be stretched to increase elasticity or its flexibility, this often becomes reduced when trigger points form.
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