When Should I See a Physiotherapist?

Consider visiting a physiotherapist if you have persistent pain that is impacting your daily life or if you want to improve your overall fitness and movement quality.

It’s important to seek help from a physiotherapist when needed and not delay it, as they can make simple adjustments to your movement execution or training loads to make a big difference.

Some common reasons to visit a physiotherapist include starting a new activity or sport, acute injuries, persistent pain, muscle weakness, pins and needles, and respiratory issues.

Physiotherapists can identify training variables, assess individual differences, stabilize affected joints or limbs, diagnose muscle weakness, and address respiratory conditions.

There are many different reasons why people visit a physiotherapist. Most of the time a physiotherapist is sought out to assist with managing an individual’s pain as a result of an acute injury; however, the expertise of a physiotherapist can be incredibly helpful if you are experiencing a persistent issue that is negatively impacting on your activities of daily living or quality of life.

Starting a New Activity or Sport

After being invited by your friend to join some other parents in the community for a social soccer game, you realized that your fitness level was not what it used to be, and the quick accelerations with the ball were causing concern. This presents an opportunity for you to consult with your physiotherapist.

All sports have three main seasons: off-season (no training or games), pre-season (training that may happen before the season starts), and in-season (when you’re training and playing games). The objective during pre-season is to rebuild players’ fitness levels after the off-season. During the in-season, the goal is to maintain and, if possible, improve the specific fitness components developed during the pre-season.

Your physiotherapist can assist in identifying various training variables and evaluating individual differences, such as range of motion, strength, balance, and mobility that may affect your ability to participate in your chosen activities. One approach that physiotherapists can use to design a resistance training program that may be beneficial for you is periodization. This involves planning the use of training variables, such as load, sets, and repetitions, in order to maximize your training adaptations while preventing the onset of overtraining or injury.

Acute Injury

If you experience an ankle sprain and can’t put weight on it, it’s important to contact your reliable physiotherapist as soon as possible.

Your physio can provide support to the affected joint or limb in the early stages of healing to prevent further damage and advise you on the most effective treatment options.

As primary healthcare providers, physiotherapists have established partnerships with medical doctors and are instrumental in collaborative care. They do not require a referral and can be contacted directly for assistance.

If you’ve suffered an injury, it’s best to seek treatment promptly and commence your rehabilitation journey without delay.

Persistent Pain (greater than 3 months)

Over 3.6 million Australians suffer from chronic pain, which is the primary cause of disability. Did you know that understanding the reasons behind and mechanisms of pain can itself be a helpful therapy that reduces pain intensity? This is precisely where physiotherapists excel.

Many patients find it frustrating when their practitioners advise them to rest or stop their activities as a means to alleviate pain, especially when exercise prescription may be more appropriate but challenging due to pain.

Conversely, not everyone responds favorably to pharmacological interventions. To manage chronic pain, it is crucial to learn about the adaptive responses of the central and peripheral nervous systems to persistent pain and how to gradually introduce therapeutic movement safely. Your physiotherapist can be an invaluable ally in this endeavor.

Muscle Weakness

Pain can hinder the activation of muscles necessary for proper movement, leading to muscle weakness. If pain and movement dysfunction persist, and activities are avoided to mitigate pain, muscle atrophy may occur, resulting in further weakness and de-conditioning.

If you’re experiencing weakness that’s impeding your ability to perform activities, it’s time to seek help from a physiotherapist. They can diagnose the root cause of your muscle weakness and create a tailored plan to help you regain strength.

Pins and Needles

Experiencing persistent tingling sensations in your arms, hands, legs or feet, which cannot be attributed to sitting in a particular position?

Such sensations, commonly known as “pins and needles,” may indicate that your nerves are not receiving adequate circulation, possibly due to compression. This compression can result from restricted muscles and fascia that impede smooth gliding, or from bony or inflammatory changes closer to the spinal column.

If left untreated, prolonged nerve compression can even lead to muscle weakness by hindering the conduction of nerve messages. Therefore, it is essential to seek the advice of a physiotherapist if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Respiratory Issues

Physiotherapists play a crucial role in managing respiratory conditions. In hospital settings, they may take patients for walks, monitor vital signs and oxygen saturation levels, and provide breathing exercises using devices to promote deep breathing and extend exhalation.

Breathing is a complex process that involves both automatic and conscious control, with breathing centers in the brainstem and various receptors in the autonomic nervous system.

Physiotherapists can provide assistance for people with respiratory conditions that affect their exercise tolerance, such as asthma, shortness of breath, and other chronic breathing issues.

Headaches and Migraines

At RHP, we understand that frequent headaches can often be caused by issues in the neck (known as cervicogenic headaches), which can lead to head pain. That’s why we use the Watson Headache Approach, a manual therapy methodology and protocol, to examine and manage the upper cervical spine in headache and migraine conditions during a comprehensive spinal and upper limb examination.

This approach uses specific techniques to examine and manage the movement and musculoskeletal behaviour of the top three spinal segments of the neck, while also considering the potential contributing factors of the rest of the thoracic and lumbar spinal region, as well as the upper limb under load.

Recent research has demonstrated that temporary reproduction (and resolution) of usual head pain can occur when examining structures of the upper neck in migraine and tension headache, indicating upper cervical involvement. By working with your physio, helpful strategies can be developed to reduce symptom frequency and intensity.

For individuals with migraine conditions, there may be different contributing factors such as vascular considerations, hormones, stress, frequent head pain, and decreased tolerance threshold. However, we know that through neuromodulation, where the brain contributes to its own healing by restoring a balance of excitation and inhibition in the neural networks, as well as movement and behavior modification, physiotherapy can increase threshold tolerance.

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