The healthcare profession involved in the treatment and diagnosis of individuals who have difficulties performing functional activities is called physiotherapy.

In other countries, physiotherapy is more commonly known as physical therapy.

What are the goals of physiotherapy?

  • Enhance physical performance
  • Maintain movement independence
  • Relieve pain
  • Manage and prevent disabilities and impairments
  • Achieve highest function possible
  • Enhance overall wellness and health
  • Increase patient’s quality of life

When is physiotherapy employed?

Physiotherapy has been proven beneficial for patients of all ages suffering from a variety of health conditions, including problems that affect:

  • Lungs and breathing (cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD)
  • Joints, bones, and soft tissues (sports injuries, back, neck, and shoulder pains)
  • Nervous system or the brain (movement difficulties secondary to Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or multiple sclerosis or MS
  • Circulation and the heart (rehabilitation after suffering from a heart attack)

What are some of the different types of physiotherapy treatments?

Cryotherapy or Cold Therapy

Known effective in reducing both the swelling and the pain, this physiotherapy intervention is often used in treating acute injuries. It is also sometimes used right after a deep kneading massage or DKM. Common examples of cold therapy include ice massage and ice pack application.

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        Heat Therapy

Applying heat can hasten healing by improving blood flow especially at the injury site. It has also been proven to alleviate pain and help in softening tight tissues. Some of the most common heating devices and modalities include:

  • Diathermy
  • Infrared heat
  • Hot packs
  • Paraffin wax bath
  • Ultrasound

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

This electrical stimulation makes use of a small battery-powered device. The device works by sending low current through the electrodes placed on the surface of the skin. Contrary to popular belief, a TENS device will not make the muscles contract. It has actually been proven to relieve pain—albeit only temporarily.

Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises

ROM exercises are often recommended to reduce stiffness and enhance or maintain joint flexibility. Common range of motion exercises includes the following:

  • Active Range of Motion (AROM) exercises
  • Passive Range of Motion (PROM) exercises
  • Active Assistive Range of Motion (AAROM) exercises

Soft Tissue Mobilization

Soft tissue mobilization, more commonly known as therapeutic massage is often used as part of physiotherapy treatment. Therapeutic massages help minimize swelling, reduce pain, and relax tight muscles.

Other common physiotherapy treatments include:

  • Ergonomic training
  • Joint mobilization
  • Assistive device training
  • Balance exercises
  • Traction
  • Bandaging
  • Taping
  • Fitting of Orthosis

What are some injuries and conditions that are treated using physiotherapy?

ACL Tear

When the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL found within the knee joint is partially or completely torn, the condition is known as ACL tear. ACL tears are often seen in athletes who are engaged in high intensity sports like rugby, soccer, basketball, and football.

Depending on the severity, a combination of the following physiotherapy interventions may be prescribed:

  • TENS
  • Joint mobilization
  • Range of motion (ROM) exercises
  • Heat or ice pack application.

Tendonitis

This condition develops when any of the tendons becomes inflamed and irritated. The condition is often the result of repetitive movements, overuse or overstretching. The condition can be chronic or acute.

If the condition does not respond to home remedies, the following treatment alternatives are recommended:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Steroid injection
  • Supportive strap or brace

Wrist Sprain

When any of the ligaments that support the wrist bones becomes injured, it can result to wrist sprain. The injury is often caused by forceful bending resulting to overstretching of the wrist ligaments.

Common symptoms include tenderness, bruising, swelling, and redness. Common physiotherapy treatments for wrist sprain include:

  • Ultrasound therapy
  • TENS
  • Heat or ice packs
  • Exercises

In essence, prescribed physiotherapy treatments will be based on the injury severity, symptoms, recovery stage, and the patient’s overall goals.