The biggest mistake when it comes to your health is to be passive! Consistently paying someone to make your pain go away temporarily isn’t the answer…. because I promise – it will come back.
When something hurts, always seek advice from a professional, don’t wait, don’t Google it – be active because THE FIRST WEALTH IS ALWAYS HEALTH.
Have you or your friends ever thought:
“I have back pain – shall I see chiropractor or osteopath?”
“I read somewhere that acupuncture can help with back pain.”
“Maybe I can just go to the gym and start to work with a personal trainer.”
“I’m sure I can help myself; I will search for some advice on the internet and see how it goes…”
“Would physiotherapy help me? Would they massage my back and cure me?”
Have you become confused with all these professions and options and are now not sure what to do or whom to see? Well, then keep reading!
Let’s start with the No. 1 fact – Physiotherapists ARE NOT Massage Therapists.
Why? Many reasons! Firstly, knowledge gained from massage courses is not equivalent to at least 3 academic years of University. It is true that physiotherapists can provide you with various massage techniques, but the assessment takes place prior and is based on the diagnosis he/she has reached which then needs a hands-on technique to apply. Thus, when a physio “massages” you, it is already a treatment that has been clinically deduced and not just a relaxation method with no particular focus.
Fact No. 2 – Physiotherapy uses not only a hands-on approach, but it also requires a patient’s involvement. Of course, you will still find some clinics where a patient comes in, has a very brief chat with their therapist and then spends the duration of the session laying on the table, being completely passive about his/her rehabilitation process. Why are some clinics still operating in this way you ask? Simply because it’s a win-win for both parties – the patient doesn’t need to move a muscle and the therapist will have gained a client for life through only temporarily easing pain but never getting to the root of the problem. The pain will still continue to persist, and the patient will always return and spend money for their temporary ‘quick-fix’ of pain relief.
Sadly, such systems may still exist but truly – physiotherapy will always require a patient’s involvement. Helping patients with their pain is great, but it is only the FIRST STEP in a successful rehabilitation process, otherwise It’s only a vicious cycle. Let me give you an example – a keen runner would come and see his physio because his knee had started to play up and is now unable to run because of the pain. The physio will apply various hands-on techniques to help with the pain and once the pain is gone, the patient will stop showing up believing he is cured. The brave and confident runner, now pain free, would go back to what he loves the most, running – and guess what? After the first run his knee starts to hurt again! Why? Because helping ease the pain does not solve the mystery as to why the pain is there in the first place. The physio needs to find the cause of the pain and based on that set the rehabilitation plan, which besides hands-on… involves exercising and education.
So, we come to the conclusion that a physiotherapist first helps with the pain. Then goes on to educate their patient about his or her problem with an explanation of why it is happening and what should be done to PREVENT it happening again. This is the only way of actually solving the problem. Always be aware of what the process should be before you visit a physiotherapist. Ask yourself if you ready to be involved in the process of helping yourself?
It’s possible you now have many questions since reading exercises and education. Especially if you are the type of person that only goes to the gym on the 1st of January because it was a New Year’s resolution, or if your only physical activity is walking to the fridge and sofa. Just to put your mind at ease, your physiotherapist won’t overwhelm you with hundreds of exercises and restrictions about what you can and cannot do. Every rehabilitation plan is subject to a particular person and what they may need. If you live sedentary lifestyle and suffer with some shoulder or neck pain, your physio should educate you about the best workstation set up and perhaps give you few more tips on how to sit at the desk to compensate for your inactivity. On the other hand, if you are an athlete and exercising is a big part of your life, then your physio will give you exercises and sport/activity related advice. Remember – when you come to see a physiotherapist, it is ALL ABOUT YOU. They will listen to your story and ask you lots of questions. Your symptoms and their assessment will give you the answer as to what is going on with you and how to help it.
Different physios have different a specialization or are good/better with certain types of injuries or pain. If you have a particular problem and are not sure if the clinic you want to visit can help you, search on their website or just call up and ask if they can. Most of the time they will know the answer to your question and will be able to help – but there are certain clinics focused only on one area such as women health, children’s health, and neurological conditions etc. Some physiotherapists use acupuncture to help with pain and some also use mobilization and manipulation techniques like a chiropractor or osteopath would. Many clinics have various specialist equipment machines that could also help you with your pain – Ultrasound Therapy, Shockwave Therapy, TECAR, Vibra, etc. There are thousands of techniques, methods, machines and exercises – all to help you.
Physiotherapy covers many disciplines and physiotherapists are constantly learning from the latest research, attending courses, seminars and conferences just to be ready to help you once you enter their door. Remember to be involved, ask questions, take advice and try to change your current lifestyle that is causing you pain. In the end it is YOUR health, YOUR WEALTH.