Back pain - it's surprising it doesn't happen more often. The complexity of the make-up of our backs really isn’t given enough credit; a structure made up of bones, muscles, joints and nerves.The spine is made up of a total of 26 bones in the adult body and 33 pre adolescence (there are 9 bones that do not fuse together until adolescence is reached) and supports the weight of the upper body whilst providing posture and making allowances for flexibility and movement – it also protects the delicate spinal cord and meninges.
Physiotherapy is a practice based upon restoring movement and function after someone has been affected by injury, illness or disability. It’s a holistic approach, which can be used to treat people of all ages with a variety of health conditions.
Physiotherapy treatment can be used on problems involving the bones, joints and soft tissue, brain or nervous system, heart, circulation, lungs and breathing. It can also be used to as a preventative method in reducing the risk of further illnesses or injuries.
We’ve explored some of the areas that physiotherapy treatment can be used on and the improvements it can make on your health.
Knee pain and injuries are extremely common and can arise as a result of normal wear and tear, through exercise or repetitive movements which cause a strain. A study in Canada once found that a combination of physiotherapy and medication was as effective as arthroscopic surgery in treating bad knees.
Enlisting the help of a physiotherapist will enable them to identify the cause of your knee pain and tightness. They will locate the weakness and identify the cause of muscle tightness by assessing how the joint moves.
A programme can then be put in place to improve movement, with a focus on increasing flexibility and strength. Often knee paid is centred on an inflamed joint or muscle, so by identifying the causes and source of irritation a physiotherapist can help to treat the problem.
A lesser known treatment for breathing problems, physiotherapy can address problems and conditions found in the autonomic nervous system. It’s also used to address the muscles and nerves that control our organs involuntarily.
A physiotherapist involved in treating breath related problems may looks to improve chest mobility and the neck muscles. Treatment focused around strengthening and stretching with breathing control routines.
For example, you may begin to breathe more consciously by focusing on your technique or breathe more deeply by holding to a count of 3 before breathing out. Forced expiration is another technique used to push air out of the lungs and works to clear out the airways.
The pelvic floor is involved in a number of activities in everyday life including; sexual functions, bladder and bowel movements. The pelvis also supports the spine and abdominal organs.
Pelvic floor issues can arise when pelvic muscles tighten, shorten and fall into spasm after childbirth, pregnancy or abdominal surgery. For women in particular maintaining pelvic floor strength is essential following pregnancy and childbirth to keep muscles strong.
Treatment is often centred on core strengthening and relaxation techniques to improve the muscles. Trigger point release is also used to relieve tensions built up in the pelvic floor muscle to relieve spasms.
We’ve all had the odd aches and pains in our back, but when a bad back becomes longer lasting taking action becomes essential. Bad posture, overstretching, excessive lifting, muscle strain and arthritis are just some of the causes of back issues.
The physiotherapy treatment you receive will depend on the cause of the problem. This is then often rectified through a plan to reduce the stress on joints, strengthen muscle to improve mobility and re-pattering of the muscles.
The focus for treatment should be on making all the muscles in our backs, and the supporting areas work together. Simply improving a couple of muscles won’t have as much of an effect, than if the whole back is improved.
Physiotherapy can also be used to treat and manage chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as long lasting, persistent pain which has continued for 3 months or more. Causes could be back pain, tissues damage and inflammation. If left untreated it can severely impact on quality of life, wellbeing and health.
Using physiotherapy practices to treat chronic pain can help to strengthen muscles and joints in the areas where pain often occurs. Chronic pain treatment may also include a look at the psychological issues which also could be contributing to the pain.
Manual therapy, therapeutic exercise and cognitive therapy all contribute to improving chronic pain related conditions. Treating pain isn’t a relaxing experience and can be challenging, but if you stick to a professional plan you’ll see a big improvement.
Physiotherapy is a treatment which can be used to treat a range of pains, illnesses and ailments. For more on physiotherapy take a look at our guide to treatment.