What is physiotherapy?

If you have been referred to a physiotherapist, you might be wondering what to expect. Will it work? Will it hurt? You might even wonder what is physiotherapy, and which conditions it can help to treat or prevent?

Here we take a detailed look at the work of physiotherapists, and the many ways they can improve your health and wellbeing.

What does a physiotherapist do?

The main job of a physiotherapist is to treat, manage or prevent pain, injuries, and illnesses through a mixture of advice, manual therapy and exercise programs.

Physiotherapists work closely with GPs and other healthcare professionals to devise appropriate treatment and care plans for each patient. More people are referred to physiotherapists than any other healthcare professionals by GPs in Australia, with the rate of GP referrals to physios on the rise since the 1990s.

As each client is different, physiotherapists have a wide variety of responsibilities. They can help you to recover from surgery, teach you to walk again, advise you on how to avoid injuries at work, help to increase your mobility or even assist those who have been suffering from long-term health conditions.

They are likely to work in a number of different settings, including hospitals, private clinics, community health facilities, sports clubs, fitness centres, aged care homes and some workplace.

Are physiotherapists qualified?

Physiotherapists are highly qualified health professionals, who have at minimum a bachelor’s degree. By law, they have to be registered with the Physiotherapists Registration Board in the state or nationally where they work and have to commit to constantly improving their knowledge through ongoing education.

This means you don’t have to worry if you are referred to a physiotherapist – the person treating you will be qualified and experienced, so you are in safe hands!

Which techniques are used in physiotherapy?

Different techniques are used for different patients, depending on their individual needs. The most common techniques used include:

  • Physiotherapy takes a holistic approach to the whole person, and a physiotherapist can advise you on injury prevention, pain management, and steps you can take to improve your health and increase your mobility.
  • Exercise programs. Your physiotherapist will devise an appropriate exercise plan to help improve your mobility, strengthen your muscles and joints, or adjust your posture.
  • Manual therapy. This includes techniques such as stretching, resistance, and joint manipulation.
  • Electrical pulses or UV are transmitted into the body to stimulate the nerves and ease muscular pain.

Other techniques may also be used, including hydrotherapy and dry needling, depending on your circumstances and the goals you want to achieve.

What is physiotherapy used for?

Physiotherapy is used to help with a wide variety of different health conditions including:

1. Musculoskeletal injuries

These include injuries and strains to the neck, back, shoulders or joints. Physiotherapy can help to prevent these injuries from happening in the first place by identifying risks such as posture, lifestyle factors and workplace health and safety issues. It can also help you recover from injuries more quickly, reduce pain and improve your mobility.

Physiotherapy is also widely used to help prevent and treat sports injuries in professional athletes and the general public.

2. Recovery from surgery

Many people who have undergone surgery suffer from pain and mobility issues during rehabilitation. Physiotherapy can speed up the recovery process and help patients to manage their pain and regain their strength. Sometimes this can even involve learning to walk or use a limb again.

3. Managing chronic conditions

Physiotherapy is used to manage pain and increase strength and mobility in patients suffering or recovering from a wide variety of health conditions including:

  • Arthritis
  • Neurological conditions such as stroke, MS and Parkinson’s disease
  • Cardiorespiratory illnesses including asthma, bronchitis and heart disease
  • Cancer

4. Aging

Physiotherapists are often involved in helping older people to improve the strength of their muscles and joints and stay mobile and active as they age. This improves quality of life, as well as helping to prevent falls and even guarding against conditions such as osteoporosis.

5. Child development

Physiotherapy can be used to help with children’s physical development in areas including sitting up, walking and coordination, helping children who may be developing slowly to improve these skills and catch up with the rest of their age group.

6. Health and safety in the workplace

Many workplaces are now using the services of physiotherapists to identify health and safety risks at work. A physiotherapist can also advise workers on safer ways of working in order to avoid pain and injuries and help both employers and employees to manage any health conditions affecting workers.

Find out more about physiotherapy

So, what is physiotherapy? The answer is that it means something different to everyone who experiences it. If you want to know more about physiotherapy or find out how it could benefit you, please contact us, and we’ll be happy to provide you with more information.