4 common treatment techniques used by musculoskeletal physiotherapists
Physiotherapy is a broad and multi-dimensional treatment process designed and ever expanding to treat a huge number of conditions. While physiotherapy mostly focuses on the diagnosis and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and circulatory system issues, a growing number of practitioners also treat conditions like sports injuries, various forms of arthritis and respiratory problems such as cystic fibrosis. From bone breaks to bursitis to Temporomandibular Joint Pain, physiotherapists have a special knack for canvassing the human body for the cause of pain and dysfunction and getting it back to full performance using a number of high-tech and low tech treatment options. For all the technology in the world, a musculoskeletal physiotherapist gets the best results with their hands.
Below are the 5 most common treatment techniques used by physiotherapists every day in order to get their patients back to optimal health and performance, free of aches and pains.
- Physical examination and assessment
The first and most important step in the treatment process is the physical examination and assessment your physiotherapist will complete on your first visit. Expect to have a real deep and meaningful chat with your physio where they will ask you a number of detailed questions about your general health, activities and how your aches or pain came about. It’s at this point a good physio becomes a bit like Sherlock Holmes, sometimes it takes a bit of sleuthing to get to the bottom of some injuries and pain as they can be the result of an injury that starts in another area of the body.
Following the getting to know you part, your physio will begin to lay out a treatment plan personalised to your current situation. Depending on where you are on the injury and pain scale, the first course of action might be a prescription for some recovery and icing of the affected area before moving forward with physical therapy.
- Joint and soft tissue mobilisation
Joint and soft tissue mobilisation techniques are forms of manual therapy that have been tried and tested over decades. When joints and other soft tissue become painful due of trauma, overuse or disuse, they can become dysfunctional and unable to perform the movements they were designed for. Soft tissue injury is an umbrella term used to describe injuries affecting your muscles, tendons, or fascia that usually occur as a result of sprains, strains, contusions, tendonitis, bursitis and stress injuries. Soft tissue mobilisation has also been called therapeutic massage and has been designed to relax a patient’s muscles and reduce swelling in certain areas, making it a perfect treatment for relieving pain associated with sporting injuries.
Joint mobilisation is a technique used by physiotherapists by performing a back and forth oscillation of the joint in order to restore full range motion and limit pain. Joint mobilisation is helpful in cases where pain and joint tightness limit motion such as frozen shoulder. Joint mobilisation treatment varies depending on your circumstances but will generally include gentle joint mobilisations, joint manipulation and none of the old school snap, crackle and pop techniques that have little long term benefit.
- Acupuncture and Dry Needling
Dry needling and acupuncture are two of those treatments that always raise my patient’s eyebrows. At first, not many people are keen on the prospect of being jabbed with tiny needles, it sounds counterproductive to kicking pain doesn’t it? But after one session, they’re converts.
Contrary to popular belief, dry needling is not the same as acupuncture, although there are similarities between the techniques. The main difference between dry needling and acupuncture is found in the theories behind why each of the techniques works. Dry Needling focuses on the reduction of pain and restoration of normal function by releasing myofascial trigger points in muscle. In contrast, acupuncture is dedicated to the treatment of medical conditions via the restoration of the flow of energy (chi) through key points in the body to restore balance.
- Ergonomic, biomechanical and sports specific technique correction
If your visit to the physiotherapist was brought about by suffering an overuse or acute injury at work, during sport or just by living your normal life, you’re really doing yourself a disservice and increasing your chances of re-injury if you don’t take adequate steps at changing your movement patterns or technique. Poor technique and posture are two of the most common sources of repeat injury observed by physios. Biomechanical assessment, technique observation and diagnostic skills are all part of the skill set of your musculoskeletal physiotherapist and allowing them to observe you in your environment or using your regular physical techniques will ultimately help you to avoid musculoskeletal and sports injuries in the future.
Think of your local musculoskeletal physiotherapist as a pain doctor, or body mechanic. They have at their fingertips a range of tried and true methods of getting you back into 100% health and kicking that pain to the curb. If you are experiencing any muscular, joint or physical pain don’t hesitate to make a booking at your local 5 star rated physiotherapist on the Northern Beaches. Your body won’t regret it.