Physiotherapy must not be neglected in the recovery process of bone and joint injuries.
PHYSIOTHERAPY is a branch of medical science that aims to facilitate the recovery of affected parts of the body by including and facilitating the wide spectrum of biological systems within the human body.
According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, UK, “Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and well-being, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle.”
Physiotherapy helps patients get back to health and regain functional physical mobility. Even after extreme physical trauma, physiotherapy sessions are able to help a patient regain his/her original body shape and cope with the new physical condition.
For example, physiotherapy sessions are able to reorientate a patient suffering from a limb amputation, by showing him/her new physical skills and routines that use different muscles to leverage on mobility, and thus, recover most basic body functions.
Physiotherapy is able to rehabilitate the various systems within the human body, such as:
·The musculoskeletal system: dealing with broken bones, fractures, bone dislocations, damaged cartilage, ligaments, muscle, etc.
·The neuromuscular system: dealing with affected brain functions, spine lesions and nervous system lesions in relation to the muscular system and motor functions.
·The cardiovascular system: focusing on problems concerning the vital processes of the heart and blood circulation functions.
·The respiratory system: healing the body’s breathing apparatus.
There are many sub-specialities within the field of physiotherapy, and the most popular one is orthopaedic physiotherapy. This well-known physiotherapy specialisation focuses on the musculoskeletal system to get patients, who have injuries or surgical procedures on their bone structure, back to the previous level of function and mobility.
Rehabilitation sessions usually take place in the hospital wards, and over time, patients regain physical qualities such as flexibility and muscular strength, as well as range of movement of the joints.
An orthopaedic physiotherapist plans and introduces exercise programmes to strengthen, stretch and retrain specific muscles and joints to help patients resume normal activities, like walking, and higher level tasks, such as running and jumping.
Orthopaedic physiotherapy also treats and rehabilitates paediatric cases. Orthopaedic measures are sometimes necessary to aid and ensure the correct physical development of a child so as to prevent further deterioration of the child’s physical movements.
Children with fractures and musculoskeletal conditions such as Perthes’ disease, club foot (congenital talipes equinovarus), idiopathic toe walking, as well as biomechanical disorders and neurological development issues, would benefit from this treatment.
Physiotherapy sessions are able to help patients with a wide range of physical disabilities and symptoms. For example, frequent headaches, stiffness, weakness, lower back pain or neck pain, can be caused by structural faults within the patient’s musculoskeletal system and spine.
Consulting a physiotherapist for a thorough check-up will definitely help relieve these painful symptoms.
When do you need to visit a physiotherapist? Here are some guidelines:
·Have had an injury recently. It is important to get the injury assessed and treated for speedy recovery.
·Are constantly suffering from muscle or joint aches. Sometimes, your body aches can occur due to wrong posture and imbalances. A physiotherapist can help determine the nature of the discomfort and offer rehabilitative measures.
·Are constantly suffering from headaches, neck or shoulder stiffness. It is better to get a proper diagnosis to find out the cause of the problem rather than just taking pain-killers.
·Are experiencing tingling (pins and needles) sensations. This may indicate that a nerve is being pinched, and a physiotherapist can help you adjust the alignment of your body or retrain some of your muscles and joints to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
·Are prone to injuries. Mishaps may happen due to over-worked muscles, weak joints, posture issues and repetitive movement of joints and bones. A physiotherapist can help identify high-risk movements and offer corrective behaviour modifications to prevent future injuries.
When you visit a physiotherapist, it is recommended that you wear comfortable clothing. Otherwise, you may get a change of clothes, which is usually provided at the physiotherapy centres.
Bring along your doctor’s referral letter, if you have one. This will help your physiotherapist understand your physical condition and better able to work with you.
The physiotherapist will first review your health history and discuss your pain, injury or complaint, with you. It is important to point out the exact location of the affected area, and explain how it is affecting your daily activities.
He/she will then propose a treatment plan that may include hands-on manual therapy, self-monitoring instruction, and some home exercises.
Patients recovering from an injury or surgery are usually referred to a physiotherapist for rehabilitative sessions. If you are in such a situation, be sure to attend all of your physiotherapy sessions.
Your body needs time to get adjusted physically, and you also need time to get used to your new physical condition, mentally and emotionally. It is important not to put too much stress on yourself during this transition period. Physiotherapy can definitely help speed up your recovery, especially when you are a willing and responsive participant.
Undergoing physiotherapy is a delicate process, and it can be a challenging and tough period for you. If you need to, talk to a counsellor or psychologist.
As much as possible, maintain an open communication with your physiotherapist so that he/she can help you regain most of your previous body functions or gain mobility and independence.
Dr Ng Swee Soon is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. For more information, visit www.quillorthopaedic.com.