When to See a Physiotherapist? [Updated]
There are many different reasons to see a physiotherapist. Our physiotherapists often see clients for a variety of reasons. Our clients also come from all sorts of different professions, age groups, and fitness levels. Most patients seek physiotherapy care for one of the reasons listed below. Everyone can benefit from physiotherapy, as it helps patients better understand how to use their body, improve the functioning of their body, and decrease pain.
Physiotherapy for Pain Relief
The reason most of our clients seek physiotherapy treatment is that they are in pain. Physiotherapists can treat almost any soft tissue or joint injury imaginable, from tennis elbow and carpal tunnel to low back strains and migraines. Some clients have been in pain for a few days, while others will present with over a decade of discomfort. Pain can be debilitating, or mild, but if it is affecting the patient’s quality of life, that is the most likely reason that they come in for an assessment.
Whatever the case, the physiotherapist performs a detailed history and physical, and determines the best course of action for the condition. Our physiotherapists use the most evidence-informed treatment modalities, including active release, Graston, deep tissue laser, shockwave, taping, and other interventions. Often, clients experience relief very quickly with the right form of treatment. If you have had pain for any length of time, it is a good idea to seek treatment from a physiotherapist, as they can both treat and relieve the complaint, and make sure that it isn’t something more serious or systemic.
Physiotherapy to Improve Mobility
Patients also seek physiotherapy care to improve their mobility. Even without pain, certain conditions can prevent patients from being able to fully enjoy life, as their mobility limits their ability to exercise, hike, bike, or even just sit for a full day of work. Quality of life can be diminished not only by pain but also sometimes by a lack of mobility. Physiotherapists can assess and determine if there is a muscular or joint component to the lack of mobility, and treat accordingly. Often, exercises are prescribed to help restore lost mobility and guard against future reductions in ranges of motion.
Physiotherapy to Improve Performance
Whether you are a high-end athlete or just a weekend warrior, physiotherapy treatment can improve your performance. By identifying areas of weakness, rigidity, or pain, physiotherapists can then do hands-on treatment, and prescribe stretches and strengthening exercises to improve how your body moves. With athletes, this is necessary to get more out of training and keep improving in whatever sport they are in. For others, this might mean that they are able to do longer hikes without knee pain or run a marathon without ITB syndrome. Whatever the motivation, physiotherapy treatment can make activities more enjoyable and successful.
Physiotherapy to Prevent Injury
Education is a key element to prevent future injury. Patients sometimes seek physiotherapy as a means of preventing future injuries. Our physiotherapists will often find muscular imbalances or tension that they can relieve to help the body work more efficiently and safely, but they also provide education and knowledge on how to properly perform tasks. These tasks might be sport related, but can also just be everyday activities, like taking out the garbage or lifting heavy boxes during a move.
In both cases, there are ergonomically advantageous ways to perform tasks, and ways that lead to either minor or major injury. Physiotherapists know the proper techniques to perform these activities and can guide patients to do things more safely. With a physiotherapist showing proper techniques, improving muscular balance, and educating on how to activate muscles, patients can often prevent themselves from getting injured in the first place.
Physiotherapy for Car Accidents
When someone is in a car accident, it can dramatically affect their body. Most of the time, people have pain right away, usually in the upper back or neck area. This is referred to as whiplash, and it needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent chronic issues. Whether they are in pain or not, patients will often visit a physiotherapist to get assessed. In Alberta, injuries from car accident claims are covered under provincial insurance. For patients who have whiplash grade 2, for example, the province pays for 21 free treatments within 90 days of the accident.
Getting treatment quickly following a car accident is key. These treatments often include soft tissue therapies such as active release, deep tissue laser for inflammation, and lots of home care advice. As the treatments progress and symptoms resolve, patients are given rehabilitation exercises to help strengthen and get them fully back to their pre-accident level of health.
Physiotherapy for Specific Conditions
There are physiotherapists who specialize in specific conditions. These things are not treated as often by conventional physiotherapists, and the ones that perform these treatments take special training or have specialized equipment to help treat these conditions. One such condition is dizziness, which can be addressed by a vestibular physiotherapist. A vestibular physiotherapist uses infrared goggles to track eye movements to determine the cause of the dizziness, which in turn allows them to provide the best form of treatment for the patient.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is another condition that requires a specialized form of physiotherapy for treatment. Bladder leaking, painful sex, difficulty emptying the bladder, and pelvic pain are among the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. A trained pelvic floor physiotherapist can assess internally to determine the cause of the dysfunction, and the proper treatment and rehabilitation exercises to correct the issue.
Concussions are another issue that requires specialized knowledge for treatment. Brain trauma is a serious condition, and physiotherapists will take additional courses to learn how to best assess and manage these cases.
At Encompass Sports Therapy, we have physiotherapists who specialize in all three of these areas, and who have the proper equipment and knowledge to get these patients diagnosed and treated as effectively as possible. These specialties are hard to find but are key with clients who have more unique diagnoses.
There are many reasons to seek physiotherapy care, from pain relief to improving sports performance. Our physiotherapists at Encompass Sports Therapy have extensive training with patients from all walks of life, from professional athletes to children. Every patient and every complaint is unique and requires an in-depth assessment and treatment that is catered to the specific patient’s needs. With the right physiotherapist, patients can experience benefits ranging from improved posture, sleep, performance, range of motion, and knowledge on how to perform tasks of daily life. If you are looking for physiotherapy treatment in Calgary, give us a call or book online.
Dr. Mike Belding
Chiropractor, B.Sc, ART