Often as a physiotherapist I’m asked by patients when to see a physio. They know they have injured their back or tweaked their shoulder, however they are unsure if they need to see a GP, a physiotherapist, or to try to keep pushing through the pains or discomfort that they are experiencing. I can see reason for the confusion as some things do improve on their own, some things however can get worse if they are not addressed correctly and sometimes if things are very serious they need to go straight to the hospital.

When can a physio help?

Physio is an important part of your treatment and rehabilitation for many acute injuries, management of chronic pain and conditions and to help keep you performing at your best.

Acute injuries

Have you just rolled your ankle? Twisted your knee? Tweaked your neck? Aggravated your lower back? These are all conditions that we as Wynnum physiotherapists see every day. If you have just had an acute injury and are feeling the after effects of it then you may want to come straight to the physiotherapist for an assessment and management advice.

Physiotherapists are able to assess your injuries to help diagnose what you have done, identify any structures that you may have injuries and the extent of your injuries. Physiotherapists are then able to refer for x-rays if they are concerned about a potential fracture or refer to your GP if they feel something more may be going on and you may require more care. If they are able to diagnose you with a sprain, strain or tear of a ligament, muscle, meniscus etc, the will provide you with an appropriate management plan. Should you be icing this injury or using heat? Will compression help? Should you be bracing or taping this injury? Should you be resting or keep moving?

If the physiotherapist diagnoses a condition that will respond well to exercise they will give you some exercises to do, show/demonstrate/explain how to do the exercises and give you the dosage of exercises that you should be doing. They will also tell you what to do should you feel better or worse in the coming days.

Chronic pain

Have you been putting up with back pain for a long time? Have you had a shoulder niggle that just won’t leave? Do you seem to tweak your neck several times a year? Are you reliant on painkillers to help manage your pain? These are all scenarios that physiotherapists see every day. These are triggers that something is not going well with your body and there may actually be ways that you can be helped. Sometimes a few treatments may help get you back on your feet again and back on the road to recovery.

Have you plateaued with your exercises?

You have been seeing a physio and they gave you a list of exercises to continue with at home. The exercises have become much easier for you to do and you just haven’t been making any more progress. This would be a good time to consult your physiotherapists again as you may have developed cheats with your exercises which make the exercises a lot easier and they don’t have the same desired effect. You may just be ready for some exercise progressions. These progressions will make the exercises a little harder, which will result in you getting stronger and being less likely to have a further aggravation.

Are your movements restricted?

If you are finding a restriction in your movement, this may cause compensations throughout your body and result in other areas becoming overloaded. This often occurs after an injury such as a rolled ankle where you lose the bend in your ankle, or when a muscle becomes overloaded and the muscles surrounding the joint spasm and prevent full movement. In both these cases without restoring full range of movement to these joints compensation will occur.

Instability

Do you keep rolling your ankle? Have you previously dislocated your shoulder and are suffering from pain? These can all be caused by joint instability. With the correct exercises, stability can be improved and this will result in less injuries and in some cases cause a significant decrease in pain.

Recurring injuries

If you keep rolling your ankle, or keep pulling your hamstring or calf then you may be dealing with an undiagnosed instability of a joint or an underlying weakness. Often with the right exercises you can gain stability in a joint or strengthen a muscle and that may help prevent these injuries from happening again.

Other times when you should consult a physiotherapist

Dizziness

Did you know that BPPV can be caused by crystals in your ears not moving how they are supposed to. This can often be corrected by a physiotherapist trained in vestibular rehabilitation. They have multiple techniques and treatment methods which can reduce the vertigo type symptoms you may be experiencing.

Post Surgical

Physiotherapy can be a vital part in you regaining full mobility and strength to the area or joint that has been operated on.

Balance Issues

Do you keep falling, tripping, concerned about having to use a walking stick or 4WW? A physiotherapist can assess your balance and give you exercises to keep you mobile and independent for as long as possible.

General weakness

Are you lacking strength? Looking to regain your mobility and confidence? Physiotherapy is a great place to start. With exercise and balance programs you can build your strength back up again.

Headaches

Research on neck-related headaches demonstrates treatment by a physiotherapist with gentle manipulative therapy and a specific neck exercise is more effective than medication.

Poor Posture

If you have noticed your posture isn’t the best then there are probably things you could be doing better. Check with your physiotherapists that you are doing all the right exercises and that there isn’t something that you could be doing better to improve your posture and your performance.

When should you see a physiotherapist?

If you have a recent injury, a chronic injury, suffering from aches or pains, having issues with balance, dizziness or a drop in performance. These can all be indications for you to see a physiotherapist.