30 November 2017
Physiotherapy is a wonderful thing. Of course you’d expect a private healthcare provider to come out with a line like that but there are reams of evidence that suggests physiotherapy works wonders in a surprisingly wide range of areas.
From helping to reduce the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, dementia and Parkinson’s to recovering from falls and hip fractures, physiotherapy is effective, both clinically and in terms of cost.
But nobody would choose to undergo physio if they didn’t have to, so what can you do to minimise the likelihood you’ll ever need physio and what are the tell-tale signs that you can look out for?
Types of injury
Before we can answer that, it’s worth identifying the different groups of injuries that require physio.
First, there are traumatic injuries. As the name would suggest, these involve some level of trauma, such as a car crash, falling off a bike or down some stairs; it could even be a muscle pull or a twisted ankle.
Then there are non-traumatic injuries, characterised by a slow insidious onset. An example would be a lorry driver who after sitting in the same position for hours at a time over many years develops chronic back pain. Another example would be someone who uses their phone too much and develops a repetitive strain injury (RSI) or tendonitis.
Finally, there are sporting injuries, such as knee problems from running, hip pain from lunging down during squash, or a shoulder injury from rugby.
All of these activities can potentially kick off an unignorable issue that requires physio.
In the case of a car accident or a sporting injury, the need for physio may be instantly obvious. If any bones are broken, then there’s the high chance physio will eventually be necessary to ensure you return to the same level of mobility and functionality as before.
These kinds of snap events don’t allow much time for anticipation, but sometimes, there are signs - that can often mistakenly be disregarded or shaken off - alluding to the possibility that physio will be required.
Lorry drivers have already been mentioned but they’re a handy example. If a lorry driver - or anyone who sits in the same position for an extended amount of time - wakes up one morning with a niggle in their back, they could put it down to sleeping in a peculiar position.
It may happen again a few times, and again, it may be easier to ignore but this is a common case of where physiotherapy will almost certainly be required.
Anyone who regularly notices pain in their joints or muscles during or after a task may need physio. The same goes for those who only notice pain after they stop doing something like some strenuous DIY or even drumming.
Other tell-tale signs include reduced strength, a weakened grip, or the loss in ability to do something.
Some people can’t lift their arms beyond a certain angle and learn to live with it, but they don’t have to.
How Spire can help
There are two aspects to physiotherapy: treatment and prevention of the injury, and performance enhancement. The latter falls into being proactive and leading a healthy, well-considered lifestyle; generally, being a better you by maintaining better posture to avoid back problems and exercising regularly.
Your journey through physiotherapy would begin with many questions from a Spire professional. They would look at your age before asking about your lifestyle, medical history, how the injury started, how long the pain has been going on for and how it has intensified over time.
Next would be an examination to assess your motor control and how well you move, as well as your strength and general mobility.
How exactly the pain is addressed can vary but it almost always includes hands-on treatment, exercise and an at-home exercise programme. Other possible treatment options could include massage, acupuncture and mobilisations.