Why should I see a physio? Four reasons why physios are indispensable 4



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When you suffer an injury and are in serious pain, where do you go? Does Doctor Google come calling? Perhaps YouTube? Do you seek advice from a friend? Or do you seek out a professional?

Only a professional can provide the assessment you need when in pain. A huge mistake people make is listening to friends or family. Sure, they may have had similar experiences, but they may be giving you wrong advice. There are plenty of horror stories of people being given dodgy advice on how to “crack” their back or neck. Even advice on how to stretch or exercise may not suit you. Hint: you should never try to “crack” anything if you haven’t done it naturally. (Sometimes when you stretch you may hear a crack in your back or neck. That is fine. If you are trying to force it to happen then it is not safe.)

Amateur advice can only make things worse. Relying too much on Dr Google or YouTube may also produce misdiagnosis and prolong your injury.

But why see a physio? Physiotherapy uses physical treatments to treat injury or pain, or even to prevent disease or deformity, and a host of other physical problems. It plays a major role in both treatment and prevention. Physiotherapists may specialise in heart and lungs, brain, or musculoskeletal issues. Sports physiotherapists such as myself are have a special interest in the musculoskeletal physiotherapy category.

Physiotherapy is hands on. It’s very difficult to perform a diagnosis remotely. As we use physical methods, physios can only make a diagnosis by seeing you in person and employing several techniques. Because it is hands on, and because everybody is different, experience counts. As technology develops the opportunity of remote diagnosis may be on the horizon. But that is still a while away.

A physiotherapist will quickly work out whether they can help or not. They play an important role in referring patients to other medical professionals, if it’s something more complex. Unfortunately delaying seeing a physiotherapist often delays recovery, and in some cases results in prolonged pain.

There are many reasons why people need physios. But there are four key reasons why physios are indispensable:

  1. Diagnosis can be extremely tricky and requires considerable knowledge and experience. Consider that many instances of pain actually originate elsewhere in the body – this is known as “referred pain” (for example when a painful shoulder is actually the result of a lower back injury). Physiotherapists not only provide a diagnosis, they will also give you a prognosis of how long the recovery should take.
  2. Treatmentof pain or injury will vary according to the problem and the individual, but a physiotherapist will be able to find treatments which improve recovery quickly. In fact, I would go as far as saying that you should see a difference in just three sessions or less. If there is no improvement at all, I would encourage a second opinion. If you have chronic pain it may take longer than three sessions, but you need to see a plan in place for improvement.
  3. Preventionis crucial and an important part of a physio’s role. There is a perception that physios just treat injury, but prevention is arguably where we make the most difference. There are many people who have been able to keep enjoying the sports they love, whether it be golf, tennis, swimming, surfing or lawn bowls, because they work at prevention in conjunction with a physio. The physio will work out where your trouble spots are and put a program in place, which is individual and should dramatically cut down the risk of injury.
  4. Ongoing conditioning/tune ups– physios can monitor your fitness and conditioning and provide the regular “tune-ups” that your body needs to maintain health and fitness. This helps you to maintain optimum fitness. Having a skilled practitioner who you trust plays a positive role in your wellbeing – as we know there are proven links between maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Kusal Goonewardena

Kusal is a physiotherapist with over 15 years’ experience at treating seniors, families and elite sportspeople. His clinical research has involved finding preventative cures for low back pain. Kusal has authored books including: Low Back Pain – 30 Days to Pain Free; 3 Minute Workouts; and co-authored Natural Healing: Quiet and Calm, all currently available via Wilkinson Publishing. Kusal holds a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy from Latrobe University and a Bachelor in Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. Aside from his consulting with the general public via his clinic, Elite Akademy, Kusal works closely with Melbourne University’s Sports Medicine team and works with elite athletes including several Olympians. When not consulting, Kusal is a lecturer, author, consultant and mentor to thousands of physiotherapy students around the world. www.eliteakademy.com

  1. Yes, am seeing a physio every 8 weeks. He is treating a lower disc out. Have been having treatment since May 2015 and I suffer no pain, but am careful in what I do.

  2. I see a physio every 2-3 weeks who is in practice with my chiropractor. I have a 30-60 minute physio treatment, then an adjustment by my chiro. They are both FANTASTIC and have made an amazing difference to my neck and back pain, and mobility from arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis!!!

  3. Would never see a chiropractor, put my dad in hospital for nearly 18 months. Myself I see a cranial osteopath, swear by the one I see, after being bedridden last year and on massive nerve pain relief, my spine and left leg are pain free and no longer have meds,
    It’s up to yourself to do what you think is right for you not someone giving out advice. I researched and decided what was best for me at the time.

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