What Is Physiotherapy?

Last Updated: December 12, 2022

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World Physiotherapy describes physiotherapy as a healthcare profession concerned with human function, movement, and maximizing physical potential.


What is Physiotherapy?

what is physiotherapyPhysiotherapy is a branch of medicine that assesses, diagnoses, and treats physical problems that may be caused by illness, injury, or disability. Physiotherapists have different titles in different countries; they are called physical therapists in many countries. Some countries have their version of the word physiotherapist, such as kinesiologist, but they are all part of the same profession. Despite the title, physical therapists use a holistic approach that gives patients control of their care.

Physiotherapy aims to restore function as much as possible, treating and preventing injuries. Physical therapists achieve this by working with their patients to relieve pain, improve range of motion, reduce swelling and inflammation, prevent damage to joints and muscles, and improve overall fitness levels. Their treatments help patients threatened by disorders, conditions, injury, environmental factors, disease, or aging, maximize their quality of life by improving physical and social wellbeing.


What is the difference between a physical therapy and physiotherapy?

difference between physical therapy and physiotherpyWhen speaking of the difference between physical therapy and physiotherapy, many suggest that physiotherapy includes such manual therapies as aided stretching, soft tissue release, and fascial release. Physical therapists commonly employ those same modalities while simultaneously aiming to use exercise to strengthen muscles, improve balance and help with coordination.

Physical therapy generally requires a prescription from a physician, while one can access physiotherapy without a prescription in many cases. In addition, physical therapists typically work in clinics or hospitals, while physiotherapists often work in private practices. Finally, physical therapy focuses on the musculoskeletal system, and physiotherapy encompasses a broader range of treatments.

While the reality is that these terms can be interchangeable, most clinics here in the United States may go by physical therapy. Both include a hands-on approach that carries a medical background and focuses on preventing injury, improving flexibility, and managing acute pain, among others. Regardless of the name, physical therapists focus on improving the lifestyle of those with chronic conditions.


What types of treatments do physiotherapists use?

Physiotherapists use a broad range of tools and techniques to treat conditions associated with different systems in the body. Some of these therapies include:

Exercise therapy involves using specific exercises to improve the body's strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

Manual therapy uses the therapist's hands to manipulate joints and soft tissues.

Joint mobilization restores normal movement to stiff or frozen joints.

Massage relieves muscle tension and pain in the body.

Electrotherapy uses electrical currents to stimulate healing and reduce pain.

Heat and cold therapy uses of heat or cold to relieve discomfort and swelling.


What conditions do physical therapists treat?

conditions for physical therapyPhysiotherapists treat a wide variety of physical problems, ranging from disorders of the nervous system to back pain. Some of these conditions include:

  • Joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Sports injuries
  • Neck pain
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Headaches
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Work-related injuries
  • Post-operative rehabilitation

Despite your condition, the treatment will include education and advice on improving functionality through at-home exercises that help manage pain and improve functional ability. The physiotherapist will often work with the patient’s doctors to ensure they provide the best rehabilitation for you.


Reasons to get physical therapy

There are many reasons why you may need to see a physical therapist, and some of the most common reasons include the following:

  1. To relieve pain
  2. To improve range of motion
  3. To reduce swelling and inflammation
  4. To prevent damage to joints and muscles
  5. To improve overall fitness levels.


What is the difference between physiotherapy and chiropractor care?

Physiotherapy and chiropractic care are both forms of health care that focus on the musculoskeletal system. However, there are some critical differences between the two:

  1. Physiotherapy treats physical problems due to illness, injury, or disability. Chiropractic care focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

  2. Physiotherapists use various techniques to treat their patients, including exercise therapy, manual therapy, massage, electrotherapy, and more. Chiropractors primarily use adjustments to the spine to treat their patients.

  3. Physiotherapy can treat various physical problems, including back pain, joint pain, arthritis, sports injuries, neck pain, and headaches. Chiropractic care primarily treats back pain, neck pain, and headaches.

If you are suffering from any physical problem, it is vital to see a healthcare professional to get the treatment you need. Physiotherapy and chiropractic care are both effective forms of treatment for many different types of physical problems. Talk to your doctor to determine if physiotherapy or chiropractic care is right for you.


Frequently Asked Questions About Physiotherapy

faq about physical therapy

When should I see a Physiotherapist?

You may need to see a physiotherapist if you are injured, are in pain, or have a limited range of motion. See a physiotherapist if you are recovering from surgery, as they can help you regain your strength and range of motion.


How often do I need to see a physiotherapist?

The frequency of your visits will depend on the severity of your condition. You will most likely need to see a physiotherapist once or twice weekly for a few weeks. Once your condition has improved, you may only need to see the physiotherapist once a month for maintenance.


What to expect at the physiotherapist

When you first see a physiotherapist, they will ask you about your medical history and the nature of your problem. They will then perform a comprehensive physical examination of the patient, assessing your range of motion, strength, and flexibility.

After the initial assessment, the physiotherapist will develop a treatment plan for you. This may involve exercise, manual therapy, massage, electrotherapy, or a combination of these techniques.

The physiotherapist will also advise on preventing further injury and pain. They may also recommend changes to your lifestyle or work habits.


What is the cost of physiotherapy?

In most cases, health insurance will cover physiotherapy if the patient acquires a doctor's note. In some cases, you may need to pay a co-payment or deductible. The cost of physiotherapy will also depend on the number of sessions you need and the type of treatments used.





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