Physiotherapy, or physical therapy, involves various treatments based on physical stimulation such as heat, cold, electrical currents and ultrasound. They can help relieve pain, strengthen weakened muscles and improve flexibility.
Educating patients on what to expect with a physiotherapy treatment can make them feel comfortable and more likely to embrace adding physical therapy into their life. Getting your patients to commit to regular appointments will also increase the effectiveness of your treatments.
1. Use a warm water pool
The warm water of a therapy pool offers a perfect medium to promote healthy exercise for all ages and abilities. It also provides low impact rehabilitation for conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and back pain. In addition to improving balance, strength and flexibility, the therapeutic properties of warm water can help ease muscle spasms and stiffness.
Hydrotherapy, or aquatic physiotherapy, is a specialised form of physiotherapy which incorporates hands-on treatment techniques in a warm water pool. It can be performed by qualified physiotherapists who are members of the Health and Care Professions Council.
Water therapy is often used for arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, because the buoyancy of the water reduces the load on affected joints. This allows the patient to perform exercises which are otherwise not possible on land. The resistance of the water helps strengthen muscles, and the warm water facilitates increased blood flow to affected areas and helps with range of movement.
The warm water of a therapy pool is often maintained at a comfortable temperature between 86 degrees and 92 degrees, making it ideal for use by people with fibromyalgia, arthritis or other health conditions. Sessions are usually done in groups of patients with similar conditions, but are still a personalised form of treatment. A bathing suit, towel and a pair of slip-on shoes are recommended for the water-based sessions. Depending on the type of injury, your therapist may prescribe a set of pool-based exercises that you can continue at home.
2. Use a TENS machine
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a pain management therapy that sends electric pulses to the painful area via electrodes that stick on to your skin. It is used by many people with chronic pain problems and is a great alternative to taking pills for your pain. A physiotherapist can lend you a TENS machine to use at home or you can purchase one yourself. The most effective way to use a TENS device is to have your physiotherapist demonstrate the proper use of it for your specific condition.
The most advanced theory of how TENS relieves pain involves a mechanism called the “gate control” theory, which suggests that electrical impulses stimulate the production of natural morphine-like substances in your body, which block pain messages from reaching your brain. TENS can also stimulate the release of neuro-chemicals that help reduce and eliminate muscle spasms by interrupting the pathway that these signals usually take from your spinal cord to the brain.
Generally speaking, a TENS device is safe for most people to use, provided the skin underneath the electrodes is clean and free of oil or lotion. However, TENS shouldn’t be used over numb or sensitive areas of your body and is not recommended for pregnant women. You should always check with your doctor or physiotherapist before using a TENS machine if you have a pacemaker or any other electrical implants as it can interfere with them.
3. Utilize ultrasound frequency
When most people think of ultrasound they imagine a doppler type scan used to monitor pregnancies and diagnose medical issues; however, there is another type of ultrasound that is used for physical therapy. Therapeutic ultrasound, also known as US, has been utilized by physical therapists since the 1940s. US uses a round-headed wand that is placed directly in contact with the patient’s skin. The tip of the wand is covered in gel to reduce friction and assist in the transmission of the mechanical energy. Therapeutic US is in the frequency range of 0.75-3 MHz.
The acoustic energy of ultrasound penetrates into the tissues at different rates based on frequency and intensity. Higher frequencies need less treatment time to produce a thermal effect due to how fast the acoustic energy is transmitted through the tissues.
Ultrasound can be used to enhance muscle warm-up, increase tissue elasticity, and decrease pain and swelling. It can also be used to treat tendons, ligaments, & joints.
When connective tissues are cold they are like hard plastic; when they are heated up, they become more pliable and extensible making them more receptive to stretching and joint mobilization. When stretching is performed with ultrasound it is important to have the patient stretch while the connective tissues are still warmed up; this can help to prevent injuries and maximize therapeutic benefit.
4. Utilize ice
The use of ice is a common treatment for many injuries such as sprains and strains. However, recent research has shown that ice does not reduce inflammation but actually delays healing by cooling the tissue. Instead, compression and elevation are better at reducing inflammation.
It is also important to remember that the ice can only provide short-term relief. In order to get lasting benefits from icing, you must begin to move and exercise the area early on in your recovery. This can help promote healing and prevent the injury from recurrence.
Lastly, it is important to communicate with your physical therapist. If you are experiencing pain during your exercises, or if the exercises feel too difficult, let them know. It is their job to help you heal and reach your goals, so be open with them about any issues that may arise.
Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions and injuries. Whether you are an athlete looking to improve your performance or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, physiotherapy can help. Using the tips in this article can make your physiotherapy treatments even more effective and will speed up your recovery time. So be sure to try these techniques on your next visit to the physical therapist! You won’t regret it. Happy healing!
5. Utilize heat
Whether you are recovering from an injury or just want to perform better in your sport, physiotherapy is an excellent way to keep your body healthy. It’s also a great option for patients who have major health crises like heart attacks or strokes, as well as people who are dealing with chronic conditions such as asthma and arthritis.
Using heat to help relieve pain and relax stiff muscles is a staple of physiotherapy. The goal is to penetrate the muscle and joint tissue with the heat, resulting in increased blood flow and reduced inflammation. Moist heat treatments can include hot water bottles, steam towels, or even a hot bath. Dry heat treatments, on the other hand, include a warm blanket or heating pad. You can count on expert physiotherapists in Hervey Bay for pain relief using various methods.
Some therapists have access to an aquatic therapy pool, which allows patients to perform exercises in a warm water environment. Exercises performed in the water are easier on the joints and muscles and can increase range of motion. Using a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine can also be very beneficial. The TENS machines send pulses of electricity through pads placed on the skin, which helps to alter pain messages sent to your brain.
It’s important to be open with your therapist and share any discomfort you feel during treatment. It may be tempting to add a few more reps or weight, but your therapist knows best what is safe for you. If you are experiencing discomfort, it’s important to let them know so they can change the workout or adjust the technique.
6. Utilize massage
While it may seem counterintuitive to get a massage while undergoing physical therapy, it can actually be quite beneficial. It helps with muscle flexibility and reduces tension in the soft tissue. In turn, this allows the physiotherapy to progress more easily.
During a massage, therapists use passive techniques such as hot and cold therapies and deep tissue massage to encourage the muscles to relax. This prepares the body for more active treatments that will help to strengthen and improve flexibility.
Massage also promotes healthy circulation which is critical in reducing pain and stiffness. This is because healthy circulation carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and tissues so they can repair and recover.
In addition, massage can be used to break up adhesions that are a common result of injury. This will allow the injured tissues to move more freely and will reduce the tightness, stiffness or itching that is often associated with those adhesions. Depending on your condition, it’s important to choose the right massage technique for you. Be sure to avoid massaging any bony prominences as this can lead to pain and discomfort. Lighter massage techniques, such as effleurage, are best for relaxing the client and decreasing stress levels.