What is Physical Therapy?


Physiotherapy, also referred to as physical therapy, involves evaluating, diagnosing, and treating a range of aches, pain, and disabilities using physical means. It is considered within the realm of conventional medicine, although in most countries the Physio is now more independent.

In the past Physio's were told what to treat by the doctor who referred the patient. This helps to explain why results were not always good. If the doctor said the problem was in a certain area, that was only where they could treat, although they could easily see the problem came from elsewhere.

What methods do they use?

Physical therapy uses a range of techniques to help ease pain. They include hot packs, cold packs, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation as the main modalities. However, most Physios will use massage, stretches and exercise to help you recover. Patient education is still a key part to getting results.

Physiotherapy like all structural professions is guided by their professional body. But it is the individual practitioner that will decide how they practice. Physio's now employ other techniques such as manipulating the spine, Acupuncture or Acupressure, nutrition and herbs and even Homeopathy into their practices.

Does Physical Therapy work?

This is always a hard question to answer. If you read on the internet, you will see that there are many that praise physical therapy and many who rubbish it. The same applies to all structural professions. Why?

Well some people get relief and others don't. There will be some that will have a few sessions; pain will ease and never return. There are others that will have numerous sessions and find that pain is still the same as when they started.

You cannot put all practitioners into a group and say they are good or bad. It depends on what is the cause of your pain.

Is there a fault in the way they work?

The reason why physical therapy fails at times (and the same applies to Chiropractic, Osteopathy and all structural modalities), is that unless you identify exactly what the cause is, you are left using generic techniques and hoping they work.

All back or neck pain is caused by spinal imbalances, this is where your daily tasks have caused tension to occur in your muscle and joints. With time this tension pulls your spine out of alignment, causing spinal imbalances.

To get relief that lasts, you must first identify these spinal imbalances and then perform corrective techniques to remove them. If all you do is work on a few muscles with some generic stretches, you will not remove the underlying cause.

A good physiotherapist will look at your muscles and joints, they will assess where the imbalances are in your spine. They will use symptom relief techniques to ease pain, while you use corrective techniques to rebalance your spine.

Do Physiotherapists work this way?

Unfortunately there are not many, there are also even fewer Chiropractors that work this way. Why?

Most practitioners are not taught about spinal imbalances, and even if they are they find it is easier (for them) to remain working as they were taught. Removing these imbalances is very easy, but it requires teaching the patient to use techniques at home ... something many practitioners believe is bad for their business.

A good Physio is as good as a good Chiropractor. One that wants to look at the cause not just the symptoms, one who wants you to recover at fast as possible, even if it means less treatment in their office.

Physiotherapy still has its role to play, and they have many modalities that will help ease pain when you need it most. Most people will get relief, but long lasting results means you must address the spinal imbalances.

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