There is often a tendency to put physiotherapy in the same category as “alternative” treatments and to confuse it with massage or chiropractic. And yet it is a completely different approach. Could it help you?
It was the prospect of having to stop cooking which prompted me to try physiotherapy. My hands and wrists had hurt me since my school years, which I had taken to grabbing notes and typing at the computer.
My doctor gave me a blood test to determine if I had rheumatoid arthritis, but once I ruled out that possibility, but then she had no treatment to offer me. Andrew, my husband, had been pushing me for years to consult with a physiotherapist but I was convinced that the damage was such that only surgery would come to an end. In addition, physiotherapy treatments were not fully covered by Medicare, so I hesitated to get involved in this expense.
But knowing that if my condition got worse, I would have to give up cooking and writing, my livelihood, I finally made an appointment with a physiotherapist.
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The results impressed me. At the end of the first session, I had a diagnosis of tendinitis and indications for doing three stretching exercises. Although easy to perform, they so relieved my muscle tension that I was looking forward to the time of my little rituals. The physiotherapist also provided me with clinical treatments: he stretched and shortened my muscles and added to my program of bodybuilding exercises to prevent future problems. Within a few days, my pain had subsided, and after two months she had disappeared.
I discovered that physiotherapy could cure long-term problems, but that did not mean that I would have to spend a fortune on treatments spanning several months. In my case and many others, the number of appointments decreases rapidly once the problem is diagnosed; The practitioner then gives you a program of exercises to do at home. Here are some of the problems this approach can address.
1. It can treat the knees
Last year, researchers at the University of Western Ontario published a study of great importance showing that, combined with medication, physiotherapy was just as effective as arthroscopy in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. “Many arthritic problems can be alleviated through flexibility and strength training exercises,” writes Dr. Robert Litchfield, co-author of the study, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the University’s Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic. Physiotherapists can relieve pain at the source after identifying the cause, such as muscle tension around the knee, and treating it by exercising or stretching. “We’re doing a biomechanical assessment first, looking at all the possible causes: muscle tension, weakness, and more or less joint mobility,” says Greg Alcock, a physiotherapist and clinical and research coordinator at Clinic Fowler Kennedy. “Based on this assessment, we will prescribe a treatment that may include exercise to calm the joint or inflamed muscle or seek to correct the factors contributing to the problem.” If this is a result of an imbalance in Physiotherapist may prescribe an orthosis (compensated shoe that corrects alignment problems). “Physiotherapists are very good at evaluating general posture, while surgeons will only look at the diseased joint,” adds Robert Litchfield.
2. She teaches breathing techniques
Because it addresses the human body as a whole and not only the skeleton-muscular system, physiotherapy also focuses on the problems of the autonomic nervous system, that is, the system of involuntary muscles and nerves that regulate The organs. People with asthma or sleep apnea, for example, can be treated by cardiovascular physiotherapists, who use breathing exercises that are sometimes as simple as blowing into a balloon – or focus on improving the mobility of the muscles of the chest and neck through stretching and weight training programs.
3. It can relieve pelvic floor disorders
Pelvic floor disorders, which occur when muscles in this region contract, shorten or become spastic after pregnancy, birth or surgery in the abdomen, is one of the areas of practice that develops on the faster. “The pelvic floor muscles are involved in sexual function, as well as in the bladder and intestine, as well as supporting the column and abdominal organs, ” explains physiotherapist Robin Christenson, founder of Woman ology, an integrated therapy clinic of Irvine, California. Dysfunction may occur as pain during sexual intercourse, urinary or fecal incontinence, or general pain in the abdomen or groin. “These problems are not visible on MRI or ultrasound,” explains Robin Christenson, who generally uses a massage technique called “trigger point therapy” administered directly to the affected pelvic muscle to relieve the spasm. She also taught her clients trunk strength and relaxation exercises using the Pilates method.
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4. It helps fight obesity
As an emerging sector, lifestyle physiotherapy uses disease prevention and chronic pain management techniques. Lia Arniel, a Winnipeg physiotherapist, often works collegially with physicians to treat obese patients, including facilitating their exercises. “We inform them of the physical impact that their weight exerts on their skeleton-muscular system, which supports the whole body,” she explains. In addition to addressing problems such as knee pain and tendinitis using conventional techniques, physiotherapists develop customized exercise programs that help to protect vulnerable joints. Something as simple as helping a patient with sedentary habits to choose a pair of shoes tailored to their needs may enable him to become more active. The same principles can be applied to elderly patients or those suffering from the effects of chemotherapy to help them regain their mobility.
5. It can help relieve chronic pain
To relieve chronic pain, physiotherapists use muscle strengthening programs around the painful joint. In a study of women with osteoporosis whose chronic pain resulted from compression fractures, Danish researchers found that they had significantly less pain, took fewer medications and said they had a much better quality of life at the end of a 10-week program aimed at improving their balance and stabilizing their column.
6. It can relieve back pain
Poor posture, muscle tension or arthritis can cause back pain. Treatment will depend on the nature of the problem, but a number of common principles apply. Paul VanWiechen, Director of the Exercise Physiology Program at Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto, recommends a triple approach: weight monitoring (to reduce stress on joints), strength training (to improve mobility and reduce the risk of relapses) And muscular reprogramming. It is about changing the way muscles coordinate in a given area of the body, usually through a series of dynamic exercises. “In the lower back, there are about two dozen superficial and deep muscles that really matter, he says. It is much less effective to reinforce two or three of them than to re-teach the 24 to work smart together.
How to get the most out of the physio?
For the majority of problems, it is essential to do stretching and weight training exercises at home. This is where physiotherapy risks losing players. “Many of my clients would like their problem solved yesterday,” says Karen Orlando, Toronto physiotherapist. “They do not want to make the effort.” It takes time and practice to stretch or contain the muscles that have taken a bad fold. However, in doing so one can prevent the risk of injury recurring.
When I was tempted to skip my exercises, I remembered that the effort and money I had invested could help prevent costlier and time-consuming interventions. This is something our politicians should keep in mind: the potential of physiotherapy to help an aging population remain mobile and healthy is becoming more relevant.