What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the treatment of illnesses, injuries, and musculoskeletal conditions (problems with muscles, bones, joints, and tendons) using exercise and manual therapy techniques. Physiotherapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgery and a natural alternative to prescription drugs.

Conditions Treated with Physiotherapy

A trained and registered physiotherapist has a strong understanding of how the human body works and how those functions relate to physical health. Physiotherapists can assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of physical problems, disabilities, conditions, illnesses, and injuries using physical therapy techniques.

Physiotherapists offer treatments for conditions like:

Musculoskeletal

Issues involving muscles, bones, joints, nerves, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and spinal disc such as back and neck pain, osteoporosis, bone fracture and joint replacement rehabilitation.

Neurological​

Mobility limitations or problems due to brain or spinal cord damage, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease.

Cardiorespiratory

Chronic heart disease, stroke, heart attack, or chronic lung diseases such as asthma.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Conditions such as incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, and prolapse.

Women’s Health

Conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum care, and menopause.

Oncology

Physiotherapy can help people affected by cancer with managing pain, maximize their independence and improve quality of life.

How Physiotherapy Works

Physiotherapy restores the body’s normal functions using a whole-body approach to healing and strengthening the body.

Physiotherapists approach treatment holistically because there are many systems in the body can contribute to any one specific bodily function. Physiotherapy can restore your overall health and wellness by reconditioning the body, and the systems that contribute to proper body function.

Physiotherapists also contribute to a patient’s physical health through education – helping you to manage your health and conditions more effectively.

When is Physiotherapy Needed?

For most individuals, clear signs that you could benefit from physiotherapy include pain that won’t go away, mobility issues, limited range of motion, joint or muscle pain, or difficulty with balance and coordination.

There are some symptoms that physiotherapy can treat that are not as obvious, such as incontinence, painful urination, chronic constipation, or sexual dysfunction.

If you experience discomfort or pain in your body, chances are that physiotherapy can help you improve your quality of life.

Physiotherapy: What to Expect?

Physiotherapy treatment starts with a mandatory physiotherapy assessment to plan a treatment program that is appropriate for your condition and deliver the best result. Your physiotherapist’s role is to get to know your unique health and medical history and identify the root cause of your current issue, so that they can create a physical therapy treatment plan just for you.

Physiotherapy Assessment

During your first physiotherapy assessment you will be asked questions about your condition and medical history. Your physiotherapist will look at how you move, perform strength tests, and examine the areas of your pain. At the end of your assessment, your physiotherapist will give you a diagnosis and prescribe you a customized physiotherapy treatment plan.

Physiotherapy Treatments

Physiotherapists are trained in a wide range of physical therapy techniques and treatments. The prescribed treatments will depend on your unique condition but could include therapeutic exercises, stretches, soft tissue release, acupuncture, or manual joint mobilization. 

The number of physical therapy treatments needed to get well will also depend on your condition but typically a couple of visits per week for a few weeks are needed. Some conditions require several months or years, for complete recovery. Talk with your physiotherapist about what is best for you. 

 

Physiotherapist Role

A professional registered physiotherapist is there to empower you to achieve your health and wellness goals. Every body is unique and it is important that you listen to what your body is telling you. If something is uncomfortable or does not make you feel safe, you should feel comfortable speaking up and communicating your concerns. A physiotherapist should be compassionate, respectful, communicate honestly with you, and tailor your physical therapy treatment plan to your lifestyle.

Physiotherapy Treatments & Techniques

Physiotherapy professionals use a wide range of treatment techniques to heal and strengthen the body. Some treatments, such as soft tissue release, are also offered by other medical practitioners like chiropractors, massage therapists, and kinesiologists. The following are some common treatments that your physiotherapists may use:

Therapeutic Exercises

Physiotherapists are movement specialists and the effectiveness of therapeutic exercises are strongly supported by research. Although passive treatment techniques can help faciliate your recovery, therapeutic exercises should be the main focus of your physiotherapy treatment. 

Your rehabilitation program can include exercises to improve range of motion, increase the flexibility or strength of selected muscles, improve balance, or increase cardiorespiratory functions. To improve the effectiveness of your exercises, you might be asked to use certain fitness equipments such as resistance bands, dumbells, therapy balls, a treadmill, or a bike.

Joint Mobilization

It is a hands on approach to help stiff joints move better. When combined with exercises, joint mobilization can have some benefit in providing lasting pain relief.

Kinesio Taping

Kinesio tape is latex-free and can be worn for days. It is often used to provide support and stability to injuries and affected muscles and joints, while allowing your body to move freely. A physiotherapist may also apply tapes to target certain receptors in your body to reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and encourage lymphatic drainage.

Acupuncture and Dry Needling

Acupuncture involves the insertion of sterile, single-use fine needles into specific body sites. It is used to relieve pain and treat various physical disorders. There are many styles of acupuncture such as Traditional Chinese Medicine approach, Neurofunctional approach, and Dry Needling. 

Soft Tissue Release

The treatment uses prolonged pressure on a muscle or connective tissue during movement to lengthen and relieve tissue tension. This approach aims to reduce pain and increase range of motion. 

Heat and Ice

Heat is often applied to encourage blood flow to an injured muscle or joint to promote the healing process. Heat may also help to improve flexibility and ease of movement of stiff muscles and joints. Ice is typically used for acute injuries to reduce swelling and inflammation. 

Becoming a Registered Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy is a registered profession in Canada. Physiotherapists are required to complete a masters degree in Physiotherapy (MscPT) from an accredited college or university. Most Physiotherapy programs include a mixture of lectures, labs, and clinical work to ensure that students get a comprehensive education. To acquire your masters, you can expect to complete a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours.

Before you start practicing, you will need to pass a Physiotherapy Competency Exam (PCE), which includes a written and clinical portions.

Depending on where you practice, you may need to meet additional requirements before can start practicing. You can contact the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR) for more information about requirements for your region. You will also need to demonstrate a commitment to continued education throughout your career to ensure you can provide safe and competent care.

Once licensed to practice, you can find Physiotherapists working in many settings such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Independent facilities
  • Private practices
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Schools
  • Community health centers
  • Gyms and sports facilities

Book a Physiotherapy Appointment

Schedule a physiotherapy consultation today. Visit our Toronto physiotherapy clinic and get the expert care and experience you need to get better and stay better.

Book your physiotherapy appoint today

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