An insight into physiotherapy

By TANJA RAI [email protected]

Tanja Rai is qualified as a physiotherapist in Germany. She has specialised in orthopaedic rehabilitation and sports injuries and has been living and practiSing in the Algarve for over eight years.

I recently came to the realisation that there is a widespread misconception about physiotherapy. I’m sure most of you are aware of this practice and perhaps even have regular appointments with your local physiotherapist.

However, after years of treating a great number of patients, I have spotted a similarity; most patients only approach me once their discomfort interferes with their day-to-day life and medication fails to have an effect. Many were surprised to hear that the underlying cause of the problem had not been resolved and the painkillers had temporarily masked the symptoms. This leads me to the basic explanation as to how physiotherapy can be beneficial to you.

A physiotherapist will look at all the possibilities that could be the cause of your discomfort, be it in your joint, muscle or nerve, and treat it accordingly. It is not unusual to find that the location of the pain is not where the problem lies; for example, you can have knee pain due to muscle imbalance in your hips or shoulder pain due to a problem in your neck. Your body may have been overcompensating one area to rest the real problem.

My aim is to provide you with a little more insight into physiotherapy and what you can and should expect from treatment. The most common reasons for visiting a physiotherapist are to cure an injury, rehabilitate from surgery and to improve activity levels (leisure or in sports). Do remember though that any tissue damage always requires time to heal and that, unfortunately, miracles rarely happen overnight. Just like a scab forming to heal a wound, damaged tissue takes time to seal and reorganise inside your body. Physiotherapy encourages and stimulates your body’s natural healing power and, believe me, everybody has that ability!

I agree that it is much easier to take a tablet and continue with your day and I’m not implying that you should see someone for every little ache and pain. However, in the case of surgery, I would like to stress the importance of post-op physiotherapy. All surgery causes damage to your body and your chances to make a full recovery and achieve desired results are greatly improved by physiotherapy.

Every other month I will address situations that can be relieved or improved by physiotherapy. If you would like to suggest a specific case or share an experience, please email [email protected].