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physiotherapy for lower back pain

Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain: Is Physio Good for Lumbago?

If you have been experiencing lower back pain (radiating down your leg), numbness, tingling, or weakness for more than a week, or if you are having problems with your bowels or urination physiotherapy for lower back pain could be the solution to your troubles. Below are the causes, and how physio can help decrease your backache.

Quick take: Is physio good for lower back pain?

 

What Does Physiotherapy do for Back Pain?

For most patients, a month of physiotherapy is enough to relieve lower back pain if there is no underlying condition. Why?

One of the main causes of lower back pain is a sedentary lifestyle. The nature of your work may also contribute to back pain. Think about it; how many hours do you spend hunched over a laptop? Or does your work require you to stand for extended periods?

Physiotherapy for lower back pain is a safe and less aggressive treatment that decreases back pain, improves function and with a good maintenance program, it helps prevent future back pain.

 

How does physiotherapy work for lower back pain?

Depending on the cause of the pain, you may need active or passive physiotherapy. Active physiotherapy focuses on building muscle strength and repairing the damage. It involves patient specific exercises and stretches.

Passive physiotherapy focuses on pain relief. It includes electrical stimulation, heat application, ice packs and patient-specific physical treatments.

Below is everything you need to know about active physiotherapy, including how it can help you recover from back problems and what you can do at home to prevent future flareups.

 

How do I Know if my Back Ache is Serious?

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that between 70 to 90% of people will suffer lower back pain at some point in their lives. The causes include:

  • “Spine arthritis” may lead to a condition known as spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the space around the spinal cord that causes lower back pain.
  • Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones making them more likely to break. The condition takes several years to develop, and one of its symptoms is lower back pain.
  • Muscle and ligament strain. Sudden awkward movements, heavy lifting, and some jobs put you at higher risk of muscle or ligament strain.
  • Bulging or ruptured disk. The “disks” in your spine act as cushions, they contain a soft material that may rupture or bulge leading to lower back pain.

Note that the pain may come from your vertebrae, ligaments, discs, nerves, and many other locations in your body. Consequently, you may feel the pain radiate down your leg. For most patients, the pain comes and goes. Meaning you have some good days and some painful ones.

 

Centralisation of Back Pain: When to see a Physiotherapist

If you experience back pain on and off and it suddenly progresses to your legs, or if you feel the pain developing in other areas of your body, it is time to see a physiotherapist. Also, if you begin exercising and the pain gets progressively worse, your exercise regime could be the cause.

What you need to remember is do not go under any procedure, including x-rays, MRI, surgery, exercise, or take medication before you consult with a physiotherapist. Why?

Pain killers have side effects and only mask the problem, and some patients may have problems such as bulging disks and experience no pain. The best way to understand a patient’s pain is through movement. Experienced Physiotherapists are movement experts who help patients identify the source of their pain and any possible underlying problem.

 

What to expect when you visit a Physiotherapist with Lower Backpain

  • The session will begin with an initial assessment where the physiotherapist will review your medical history and ask you detailed questions about your pain and injury.
  • Your physiotherapist will test your range of motion, strength, swelling, nerves, palpation, and ligament and joint stability to diagnose your pain or injury.
  • Based on the diagnosis, your physiotherapist will recommend a patient-specific treatment plan.

 

Physiotherapy Treatment for Lower Back Pain

Depending on the cause of the pain, a physiotherapist will provide you with information on how to manage the pain at home. Treatment may involve

  • Manual therapy including massage, joint mobilisation, spinal manipulation, and soft tissue techniques.
  • Heat and cold packs.
  • Patient specific exercises.
  • Dry needling or acupuncture.
  • Electrophysical agents such as therapeutic ultrasound, low-level laser, and NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation).

 

How do I strengthen my lower back with physiotherapy?

If you have lower back pain, your physiotherapy treatment plan may include the following exercises. But, before you perform any of the exercises listed below, you should consult with a physiotherapist to avoid further injury or damage to your back:

Core strengthening exercises for lower back pain:

  • Wall sits
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Bridges
  • Knee to chest
  • Hip stretches

Will Physical Therapy help Arthritis in the Back?

As you get older, the risk of developing arthritis increases. The condition may also result from injury. Some signs that your lower back pain is related to arthritis include, loss of range of motion, weakness or fatigue, nerve pain, stiffness, and back pain.

Physiotherapy helps relieve lower back pain through exercises and stretches that increase flexibility, improve blood flow, and lubricate the joints to improve movement. Physical activity causes weight loss, and that takes some pressure off your joints.

If you have arthritis, your physician may recommend you to a physiotherapist. What a physiotherapist will do is design a treatment program that targets your specific symptoms, the program may include stretching, core building, patient-specific exercises, and aquatic therapy.

Why not do it on your own?

A non-targeted approach may lead to more damage and pain. Consequently, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced physiotherapist.

Will Physiotherapy help Osteoporosis-related Lower Back Pain?

Yes. As mentioned, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens your bones. Physiotherapy helps to strengthen bones, helps manage pain, and prevents bone thinning. If you are above 65, you are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

The condition affects your balance, putting you at higher risk of fall-related injuries.

Through physiotherapy, you can regain your balance and have more energy.

If you have osteoporosis, a physiotherapist will help find suitable weight-bearing exercises aimed at improving your balance and strength. You will also get advice on what to eat, exercises you may do at home and patient-specific advice.

Some signs that your back pain is related to osteoporosis include:

  • Brittle bones
  • A stooped posture
  • Loss of height
  • Back pain.

Will Physiotherapy Help Muscle and Ligament Strain-Related Back Pain?

Physiotherapy treatment for muscle or ligament strain may involve dry needling, soft tissue treatment, taping, and load management advice. The treatment varies with the severity of the strain. For example, during the acute inflammatory phase, you may only need hot and cold treatment -whereas, during the repair phase, your physiotherapist may prescribe exercises that help maintain muscle strength and joint range of motion.

What to expect

If you are an athlete or work in an active environment. You are at a higher risk of straining your back muscles. If you go to a physiotherapist, treatment may involve:

  • Inflammatory phase: you will get patient-specific advice on how to manage pain, and your physiotherapist may recommend braces or crutches for support.
  • Repair phase: to prevent re-injury, your physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to help maintain muscle strength and range of motion.
  • Remodelling phase: this stage involves retraining your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location through exercise.

 

What are The Benefits of Physiotherapy for Lower Backpain?

To guarantee the best outcome, physiotherapists recommend that you create a full list of all factors that may contribute to pain, including recent injuries, accidents, falls, family medical history, your job, and the sports you play. This will help your physiotherapist to create the most suitable treatment plan.

That said.

Some benefits of physiotherapy for lower back pain include:

 

Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain May Eliminate the need for Surgery

As mentioned, before you get surgery or begin taking medication, it is advisable to consult with a physiotherapist. Why?

Physiotherapy may eliminate the need for surgery. On top of that, the recovery window for physiotherapy treatment is shorter than surgery.

 

Reduces Risk of Injury and Resurgence

Physiotherapy helps to correct underlying issues, including degenerative disease and poor posture, both of which may contribute to lower back pain. Through a structured patient specific treatment plan, a physiotherapist may help you improve your balance, coordination, and strength.

 

Pain Management Without Painkillers

By correcting your posture, gait, and the way you work or play, physiotherapy can help relieve pain with or without the need for medication. If the pain has progressed or if there is an underlying condition, your physiotherapist may work with an osteopath and chiropractor. Chiropractors specialize in neck and back pain whereas, osteopaths focus on the muscles and joints.

Tip: if you have back pain, you may refer yourself to a physiotherapist. However, in some countries, you may need to be referred by a physician.

Better Mobility

Back pain may lead to stiffness in your back and pain in your legs or other parts of the body. As mentioned, physiotherapists help to pinpoint the root cause of the pain through movement therapy. Once the therapist identifies the cause of your discomfort, treatment will focus on strengthening specific muscles, easing stiffness, and pain management.

Patient-Specific Care

The issue with fixing lower back problems at home is you do not have the training and expertise necessary to tell if there is an underlying condition. Adopting an exercise routine from the internet is problematic in that it may exacerbate the problem leading to more pain.

Why is Physiotherapy/prehab Important Before Lower Back Surgery?

Physiotherapy prepares you for surgery both physically and mentally, and as mentioned, it may eliminate the need for surgery. It also prepares you for life after surgery. You will know what causes pain and how to avoid it through a treatment plan prescribed by a therapist.

Why is Physiotherapy Important after Lower Back Surgery?

Post-surgery, physiotherapy will help strengthen your back muscles, improve your range of motion, and heal tissues damaged by surgery.

If you experience lower back pain symptoms don’t hesitate to give us a call at (02) 9771 1977. Our team at Pro-Fit Physio & Allied Health Centre is always happy to discuss your symptoms and offer the best treatment option.

physio for posture correction

Bad Posture correction: can physio correct spinal misalignment, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, and a potbelly?

Yes, a targeted approach will help correct bad posture, spinal misalignment, and pain management. Below is everything you should know about physiotherapy-based posture correction.

QuickTake: based on medical research, physiotherapy has benefits for posture related problems including:

  • Leg length discrepancies.
  • Kyphosis: muscle imbalance caused by the exaggeration of the outward curve of the spine.
  • Lordosis: tight or weak muscles caused by the inward curve of the spine.
  • Rounded shoulders.
  • Poking chin posture, text neck, and upper cross syndrome.
  • Swayback and flat back.
  • Scoliosis: a sideways curve of the spine caused by weakened back muscles.

Can physiotherapy correct bad posture and spinal misalignment?

A Public Health Report published in 2007 titled “Computer use and Habitual Spinal Posture in Australian Adolescents, concluded that weekly use of a computer is associated with changes in habitual spinal posture. In males, the main risk is increased neck and head flexion and in females increased lumbar lordosis.

The findings of that report are vital in that they point to a problem that according to NCBI, affects 38.3% of children and nearly 80% of adults. Unlike in the past, today, most of us spend countless hours behind a desk. The consequence of that for many is bad posture and its side effects. A potbelly, rounded shoulders, joint degeneration, and spinal dysfunction are all side effects of bad posture.

Additionally, FHP (Forward Head Posture) or “text neck” is a common postural misalignment that may lead to decreased balance control, headaches, back pain, decreased range of motion, amongst other problems.

How does physiotherapy help correct bad posture/ postural misalignment?

The American Physical therapy association (APTA), defines a physiotherapist as a trained medical professional whose job is to diagnose physical abnormalities, help patients restore physical function and mobility, maintain physical function, and promote physical activity. If you have bad posture, you need one to help improve breathing, strengthen weakened neck, and back muscles, and better your circulation.

Medical research has established that physiotherapy or mechanical therapy is beneficial in posture-related pain management, postural alignment, and balance and gait. Furthermore, physiotherapy exercises help improve range of motion, joint mobility, and flexibility. There is also enough evidence to support the claim that physio reduces muscle spasms, and improves muscle strength and endurance.

On top of all that, a physiotherapist provides ergonomic advice to patients, meaning physio is not a temporary fix.

What are the signs of bad posture?

There are two types of postures. One is dynamic posture, and the other is static posture. The former refers to how you position yourself while in motion, and the latter when immobile.

Having good static and dynamic posture will lessen the probability of developing the problems mentioned above. But what if you already have these problems? How would you know?

Do people around you tell you to stand up straight or to stop slouching? Annoying, yes, but it is good advice. The issue is standing up straight is not as straightforward as it sounds. Try it. Standing or sitting straight does not feel natural, does it?

The reason for that discomfort you are experiencing while sitting up straight or standing tall is weakened back muscles.  A study published on Medicina titled “Effects of Prolonged Sitting with Slumped Posture and Trunk muscular fatigue in Adolescents with and without Lower Back Pain,” concluded that, quote:

“Results suggest that when seated in a slumped position for a long time, the discomfort in the lower back increases regardless of muscle fatigue, and adolescent patients with lower back pain are more affected by these postures”

Signs of bad posture

  • Do you experience pain across the neck or shoulders?
  • Has fatigue and tension headaches become a way of life?
  • Do you experience constant aches in your lower back or neck?
  • Do you on occasion have trouble breathing when seated?

All these problems may stem from bad posture, and they do not stop there, you may also experience increased muscle spasms, nerve pain, heavy feeling, or numbness in your arms.

Why a physio for posture assessment is important?

Bad posture does not happen overnight, meaning for most people, the problem develops in childhood and peaks in adulthood. By the time you notice, you may already have other underlying problems including, weak muscles, biomechanical abnormalities, and injury. Following a posture assessment, a physiotherapist will help you create a personalised stretching and exercise program that will strengthen muscles and improve mobility and stability. If the underlying cause of pain or bad posture has far progressed, your physiotherapist may recommend the use of postural support equipment that will balance, align, and help correct your posture.

What is an ideal posture?

Keeping your back, muscles, and joints in good condition is essential to develop and maintain a good posture.

A healthy back has three natural curves namely the lumbar curve, cervical curve, and thoracic curve. Consequently, the term good posture means keeping these curves strong and aligned. Remember: Muscles support these curves, and joints balance them.

Good posture while standing

  • Straight vertical alignment from the top of the head through the core to the bottom of the feet.
  • Viewed from the back: straight head and spine
  • Viewed from the front equal shoulder height.

Good sitting posture

  • Straighten spine and head and maintain back curves.

The position of your spine is key to good posture. Why? Gravity. Gravity compresses your spine, decreases flexibility, and may lead to poor circulation. Mechanical based therapy or physiotherapy relies on the knowledge of human anatomy and gravity to:

  • manipulate muscle positions
  • manually grade muscle or strength movement analysis.
  • help craft specific therapeutic interventions.

Why is physio for posture correction important, and how does physiotherapy help?

The long-term effects of poor posture include impaired lung function, poor circulation, incontinence, constipation, heartburn, and pain.

When it comes to posture correction, physiotherapists have plenty of options suited for different needs. For example, a physiotherapist may correct posture through massage or manual therapy, corrective exercises, stretching, joint mobilization and muscle stimulation, and exercises that increase range of motion.

Physiotherapy tips to correct bad posture

Stop slouching and slumping

Slouching is a condition that according to medical research causes heartburn, incontinence, poor circulation, back pain, and other medical complications. The reason for that is when you slouch, you add stress to your spine which in turn strains your bones, muscles, and joints.

On the inside, slumping compresses your organs making it difficult for the intestines to work, and your body may not get enough oxygen.

How can physio for posture correction help with slouching?

A physiotherapist may recommend upper back exercises to strengthen your back muscles and front stretches to open your chest. To provide postural support, a physiotherapist may recommend an upper back and shoulder posture brace.

Straighten your back

As mentioned, good posture is about maintaining the three back curves while standing, in motion, driving, or while sitting. Patient-specific exercises will help strengthen and straighten your back naturally.

Fix “text neck”

Text neck or leaning forward for prolonged periods often results in stiff/tight shoulders, decreased range of motion, nerve pain, tingling and numbness in the upper limbs, and eye pain.

Multiple studies cite physiotherapy as the most successful way of treating neck and shoulder pain. That means a personalized neck exercise regime will help improve flexibility, strengthen your muscles, and train your neck muscle memory to stop leaning forward.

Physio for posture correction and spinal dysfunction?

Habit is not the only cause of bad posture, spinal injuries and dysfunction may also contribute to pain and posture problems. Can physio help?

Spinal cord injury or SCI is for some a lifelong affliction that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. If you suffer from it, your doctor will recommend working with a physiotherapist.

What a physiotherapist will do is assess your condition then recommend a suitable exercise regime. The problem with creating an exercise regime on your own or copying from the internet is that you risk further injury or damage to your spine.

If you are experiencing posture related issues please call us to discuss all the available treatment options.

Physio for Vertigo

Imbalance, Blurry Vision, Migraines? Physio for Vertigo Can Help

Physio for Vertigo

Vertigo is an unpleasant condition in which you feel the world around you is spinning around. It is not the same as general dizziness but both symptoms can be present together, causing troubles with balance, blurry vision, and worsening of movement. Sometimes, the spinning head symptoms show up when getting out of bed or bending up to pick up something from the floor. Vestibular migraine, vestibular infections, stroke, and neck-related pain are common causes of vertigo.

Remember to stop sudden movements if you experience light-headedness, floating, and general symptoms of unsteadiness, especially if they last longer than a few seconds. Once your doctor diagnoses the reasons for such symptoms, you will be asked to attend physical therapy for vertigo. Vertigo physio can significantly improve the condition and eliminate the anxiety that typically accompanies the sense of imbalance.  

 

Vestibular Rehabilitation 

Physiotherapy for vestibular vertigo, also called vestibular physiotherapy, is a specialised physio program to help you with symptoms of vertigo and dizziness resulting from disorders in the inner ear (vestibular) system. Vestibular vertigo is a common condition for adult citizens. 

Vestibular rehabilitation exercises are a part of the treatment that starts with examining your gait, head and neck mobility, balance, positioning, and stability. The initial consultation may include an inner ear exam. After the personalised check-up, you will get a plan that includes some or more of the following exercises: 

  • Balance improvement
  • Posture repositioning
  • Vision stability training
  • Stretching and strengthening
  • Neck exercises
  • Walking
  • Ergonomic training 

Unless vestibular physiotherapy is a part of a postsurgical treatment, it is usually the only program you will get to treat your condition. 

 

Types of Physical Therapy for Vertigo

Vestibular physiotherapy involves:

 

Habituation Training 

The purpose of habituation exercises is to reduce the symptoms of dizziness. The patient performs specific movements that numb down the vestibular system by simulating dizziness.

 

Eye—head Coordination

These exercises improve focus and reduce dizziness.

 

Walking/Balance and Gait Exercises 

By challenging the vestibular system with walking and balancing exercises, the patient restores balance and gains confidence, stability, and grounding while walking during daily activities.

 

Physiotherapy for BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo)

Re-positioning techniques are used to treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and vertigo that occurs when lying in bed and moving and changing positions. Epley and Semont manoeuvres effectively treat BPPV but must be performed by a physiotherapist trained in vestibular rehabilitation.

 

What Are Epley and Semont Manoeuvres for Vertigo?

Both manoeuvres treat vestibular vertigo, although the Epley manoeuvre is more successful than the Semont one. The treatments are performed seated down while the physiotherapist turns your head horizontally and to the side to cause movement of the debris in the ear canal. You should hold on to the therapist during the treatment for safety reasons. Sometimes, only one treatment can solve the BPPV. Usually, patients need several treatments and, when you feel confident, repeating the procedure at home.

 

Physio for Vertigo from Concussion

Concussion headache is similar to migraines. It shows up in the frontal head area with throbbing pain that can expand to the temples. The headache can go along with vertigo, fatigue, dizziness, and imbalance. These symptoms that resemble car-sickness are a part of post-concussion syndrome. Cognitive disturbance may also present following a concussion. Vestibular rehabilitation techniques can be applied to patients with a concussion. However, since concussion is classified as mild traumatic brain injury, the doctor may prescribe painkillers, assess visual vertigo symptoms, and recommend additional treatment. You may need to perform eye exercises, postural control treatment, and pacing techniques as a part of the repositioning protocol. 

 

By following the physiotherapist’s advice and adhering to the exercise plan, you will quickly improve balance, minimise headaches, and prevent reoccurring vertigo episodes. Physio for vertigo can help you come back to your old self as soon as possible: short-term vertigo can go away within 1-2 weeks.     

 

Hamstring Strain

Hamstring strain: does physiotherapy help with hamstring injury?

Hamstring strain causes and treatment explained. Why physiotherapy is vital post injury.

Quick take:

  • Regular physiotherapy can reduce the risk of hamstring injury and re-injury.
  • If not torn, hamstring muscles will heal without surgery.
  • Lack of professional care may lead to long term pain or disability.

Hamstring strain and physiotherapy summary

Often misunderstood and inadequately treated, hamstring strain accounts for between ten to thirty percent of all sports-related injuries. But how does hamstring injury happen?

A violent stretch or contraction while running, walking, or exercising may partially, or completely tear one of the three hamstring muscles. Bicep femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus -located at the back of the thigh- are collectively known as hamstring muscles.

These muscles flex at the knee and extend at the hip.  When strained or damaged, you will experience a sharp pain near your buttocks or in the area that attaches to your knee.

A fall, accident, old age, previous injuries, strength imbalance, poor core stability, and other factors listed below may increase the risk of occurrence.

Hamstring anatomy and why physiotherapy is vital for recovery

While walking or running, hamstrings pull the leg backward (hip extension) and bend the knees (knee flexion). Injury often happens in the area where the muscles join (musculotendinous complex), explaining why hamstring strain is the most common type of injury in sports. Swelling happens because the body produces chemicals and enzymes in the area. If the muscles tear off completely (avulsion), you will need surgery, followed by weeks or months of physiotherapy to aid repair and strengthen the muscle.

In short, Physiotherapy helps patients who have a hamstring tear or strain to; (1) reduce or manage pain. (2) to fully recover from the injury by improving core stability, increasing muscle strength, and promoting healing.

How to self-diagnose hamstring strain

Whenever you feel mild or severe pain, you must seek help from a healthcare provider. Because left untreated, hamstring injury may lead to degeneration of your hamstring tendon, and that may lead to long-term pain and possible disability.

Remember, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. You know that you have a strained hamstring if:

  1. You feel pain or have difficulty straightening your knee.
  2. Experience Pain or difficulty walking or running.
  3. Climbing stairs or taking large steps is painful or difficult.
  4. Long-lasting weakness or pain in your leg

What is the typical cause of hamstring strain?

If you experience a sudden sharp pain at the back of your knee or near the buttocks, sometimes accompanied by a tearing or “popping sensation, you may have a strained or torn hamstring muscle. Within a few minutes or hours, swelling and tenderness will develop. Some may experience discoloration or bruising along the back of the leg.

What are the causes of hamstring strain?

Hamstring tears do not result from direct trauma, instead, it is a stretch-induced injury caused by sudden-forced lengthening. The risk factors include:

  • Previous injury
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Stiffness or reduced flexibility
  • Preseason weakness

For athletes, the contributing factors include; being out of shape or overworking muscles, not warming up properly before and exercising, an imbalance in leg muscles, poor technique, or returning to activities too soon after an injury. For non-athletes. Old age, accidents, poor core stability, lack of exercise, are amongst the contributing factors.

We are all at risk of suffering hamstring strain or injury at some point in our lives. So, the important question is what should you do immediately after an injury and the weeks following?

Step 1: hamstring strain first aid (immediately after injury)

Warning: when you strain or tear a hamstring, do not stretch it out. Stretching out the injury may cause further damage and disrupt healing. Physiotherapists recommend that you wait at least five days before you stretch gently. The idea is to Let the symptoms guide you, that is, if the pain is severe or unmanageable, seek medical assistance right away. Whereas, If the pain is not serious, do the following:

Phase 1: first aid

  • Keep the leg comfortable, and apply a cold pack on it every two hours.
  • Use crutches to take the weight off the leg.
  • Get plenty of rest and do not put weight on the leg.

Phase 2: at home physiotherapy

If pain persists for more than 48 hours, seek the assistance of a physiotherapist. However, if you notice some improvement, you may:

  • Have someone perform cross friction massage to increase circulation, decrease collagen cross-linking, and promote optimal collagen healing.
  • Massage the leg with a roller.
  • Gently stretch the muscle.
  • Use an exercise ball to strengthen your leg or core.

Step 2: patient-specific hamstring strain physiotherapy

The first 24 to 48 hours are the most important. This is when you or the patient will experience most of the bleeding and swelling. To control the swelling, apply a cold pack to the affected area every one or two hours.

How will a physiotherapist help me?

Without proper medical training, you may not be able to comprehend the severity of the injury. To you, the damage may not feel serious. But. Internal bleeding -caused by torn arteries or muscles may lead to an embolism or blood clot, which may cause a heart attack.

The purpose of consulting with a physiotherapist is to; identify the extent of the injury, rule out other problems, including bone injury, reduce swelling, stop internal bleeding, and manage pain.

Note: the doctor may recommend imaging tests if unsure of the extent of injuries.

What if the muscle is torn?

If Hamstring strain results in torn muscle, you will need a surgeon to reattach and repair the injury. That is why it is crucial to consult with a physiotherapist immediately after an injury or if the pain or discomfort persists for more than 24 hours without showing any signs of improvement. Without corrective surgery, the result may be long-term pain or in some cases disability.

A complete hamstring tear happens when there is a sudden extension of the knee joint and bending of the hip joint.

You know that there is internal bleeding if:

  • The tissues form a hard bunch in the back of your thigh when bending the affected leg.
  • The skin is bruised or turns purple.
  • There is liquid pooling in the injured area.

Death from a torn or strained hamstring is rare, but it may happen if you do not seek proper care.

When to see a physiotherapist

Note: medical experts grade hamstring muscle injuries as mild, moderate, and severe.

  • Severe injuries result in complete tearing of the muscle-tendon unit. With physiotherapy, it may take weeks or months to fully heal. Without physiotherapy it may take months or years.
  • Moderate hamstring strain results in a significant but incomplete muscle tear. With physiotherapy and rest, it may take three to six weeks to fully recover. Without physiotherapy, the patient is at risk of suffering further injury and will take longer to heal.
  • A mild hamstring strain, as mentioned, is treatable at home with adequate rest and gentle exercise.

You may treat grade 1 or mild hamstring strain following the instructions above. However, if you experience significant pain walking or if the leg cannot bear any weight. You will need physiotherapy to aid recovery, prevent long-term damage, and relieve pain.

Grade 2 and 3 hamstring strain and physiotherapy

Often, the muscle affected in grade 2 hamstring strain is the long head of the biceps femoris. Your physiotherapist will recommend immobilisation for not more than a week. That will be followed by weeks of strengthening and corrective therapy.

How does physiotherapy help with hamstring strain?

Phase two of treatment (after rest and pain management) is delicate and if not done right or too aggressively, may result in further injury. Because of that, we recommend consulting with a physiotherapist. What a physiotherapist will do is design a personalized treatment program suitable to your injury.

Physiotherapy and hamstring strain rehabilitation

Physiotherapy rehabilitation combines multiple components including, joint electrotherapy, taping techniques, and patient-specific exercise prescriptions that help to improve mobility, improve the patient’s quality of life, and shorten the length of hospital stays.

The benefits of physiotherapy after hamstring strain or injury include:

  1. Reduced risk of injury reoccurrence.
  2. Quicker return to sport function
  3. Improved muscle length
  4. Reduced pain

Can you do hamstring physiotherapy on your own?

You may, but the risks involved in self-physiotherapy may worsen the problem. Remember, physiotherapy is patient-specific, so what works for one person, may cause problems for you. The risks include (1) overworking muscles, tissues, or tendons that need to recover (2) pushing past the pain may aggravate an underlying problem (3) aggressive stretching may lead to more tears.

A physiotherapist will check your history, account for past injuries, then craft a suitable program.

How will working with a physiotherapist benefit me?

We encourage physiotherapy at home. But if you have suffered grade 2 or 3 hamstring strain or other injuries that require physiotherapy. It is in your best interest to consult with a physiotherapist for the following reasons.

Pre-rehabilitation and post-surgery rehabilitation

If the hamstring injury (avulsion) suffered requires surgery, physiotherapy will help pre and post-operation. A torn hamstring may cause bleeding or hematoma. Hematoma left untreated, can be serious as explained above. Post-surgery, what physiotherapy will do is reduce swelling, bleeding and may prevent complete loss of hamstring function.

The University of Wisconsin Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation recommends a post-operation four-phased physiotherapy approach to prevent long term damage after a hamstring injury. that is:

Phase 1: range of motion and gait training for at least 6 weeks.

Phase 2: progressive supervised strengthening

Phase 3: speed and amplitude movement, and force distribution

Phase 4: rehabilitation.

Note: physiotherapy may help avoid the need for surgery and reduce hospital stay, that is why you must consult with a physiotherapist within the first forty-eight hours after injury.

Injury prevention and recovery

With years of training, physiotherapists craft a recovery or prevention program suitable for the sport you play. So, if you are an athlete, thinking of becoming one, or are planning to start exercising, it is in your best interest to consult with a physiotherapist.

Improved balance and Age-related issues

The older you get, the higher at risk you are of falling and injuring yourself. A fall risk assessment (see the snippet below), aims to identify risk factors contributing to your risk of falling, obtain a risk score, and formulate a personalized plan. If you have suffered a grade 2 or 3 hamstring strain, we recommend getting one done.

That said, physiotherapy improves core strength, muscle strength, and balance. The result is a lower risk of falling or causing further injury.

Without physiotherapy or specialised treatment, hamstring strain or injury will lead to weakened or tight muscles. Also, as mentioned, lack of treatment may result in disability or long-term pain.

Physiotherapy consisting of adequate rest, leg elevation, and compression in the early stages will help speed up healing and guarantee an optimal outcome. In the latter stages, a physiotherapist will recommend patient-specific exercises to strengthen recovering hamstring muscles, and improve flexibility.

References:

physio for tmj

Physio for TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) dysfunction is a condition that consists of a set of symptoms presented in the TMJ, the area around the two joints connecting your jaw bone and mandible to the temporal bone of the skull. 

TMJ symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, and locking the jaw in a position that makes it painful to move. Symptoms may progress to include headache and dizziness. 

The first typical sign of TMJ is a painful jaw. There is no reason to panic if you notice that your jaw hurts, pops or clicks when you speak or chew. A professional physiotherapist can assign effective treatment to heal this debilitating condition.

 

What Causes a Dysfunctional TMJ 

If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, TMJ dysfunction initiates discomfort because it is located in a sensitive head area near the ears, eyes, and teeth. However, there is no need to let TMJ dysfunction prevent you from enjoying life once you learn why your jaw hurts. 

The TMJ is one of the more complex joints in your body. It is made of the articular disc (a thin oval plate) and two bones. The TMJ joint moves in two halves of one movement. In the first phase, the mandible makes a circular spinning motion inside the joint. In the second translational phase, the mandible and the articular disc slide forward on the temporal bone to come to a full opening. 

When there is misalignment between the joints during this movement, the jaw starts hurting and presents additional TMJ symptoms which require physical therapy. 

 

Benefits of Physio for TMJ

Physio for TMJ targets the causes – poor posture, teeth grinding, trauma, yawning or eating habits – by developing a set of stretching and strengthening exercises for the weak TMJ area, manual therapy, prescribing painkillers, and making suggestions about adjusting your workstation and car seat. 

 

Physio for TMJ – Strengthening

TMJ dysfunction in some patients is an outcome of how they eat and speak. Moving your jaw too fast or too forcefully can misplace the temporomandibular joint and cause pain. A trained physiotherapist can notice improper movements and advise how to make improvements.

 

Improving TMJ Range of Motion

TMJ stiffness caused by past trauma requires attention from the physiotherapist in the shape of manual therapy techniques. The TMJ physiotherapist will loosen the stiffness to get the joint to move naturally. You will get instructions for exercises to do between visits to maintain the improved range of motion.

 

Muscle Spasm Treatment

By using their knowledge in anatomy, physiotherapists assess the muscles of the TMJ and how you move them. Muscle spasms prevent your joint from healing. Your physio clinic can assist you with manual therapy techniques for improving joint alignment.

 

Posture Changes

Poor posture shortens muscles, making it difficult for some people to move the head and the jaw properly forward. After a while, the posture causes TMJ pain. A licensed physio professional can observe what movements contribute to the pain, recommend posture corrections, and teach stretching and strengthening exercises that will ultimately improve your body position. 

 

TMJ Dysfunction Pain Relief

Some patients need instant relief because they are in a lot of pain and cannot address the TMJ condition with exercises or postural changes. In that case, the patient’s pain is relieved by gentle manual physio, thermal therapeutic modalities, ultrasound, and acupuncture. 

 

Dental Care for TMJ Pain

Your physiotherapist may work alongside a dental expert to advise relaxation techniques for a clenched jaw, a nightguard to prevent you from grinding your teeth, or prescribing medications such as analgesics, relaxants, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Eating softer foods, stop biting your nails, and avoiding chewing gum is among the techniques that can help TMJ dysfunction pain. 

 

Best Exercises for TMJ 

This regimen will be put on the list of most helpful exercises to improve jaw mobility, strengthen jaw muscles, relax the TMJ area, and reduce clicking and popping sounds. 

  • Goldfish opening exercises  
  • Chin tucks 
  • Resisted mouth closing and opening 
  • Tongue-on-the-roof
  • Side to side jaw movement
  • Forward jaw movement 

Ice packs or heat pads can reduce sharp pain that prevents you from doing exercises. Many mild TMJ disorders go on their own. But if you don’t see any improvements or the TMJ dysfunction results from a trauma such as a fracture, cooperating with your physiotherapist can significantly speed up recovery to feeling your best self. 

 

Physiotherapy For Pelvic Floor & Common Exercises To Alleviate Pain

Physio for the pelvic floor can help when the pelvic floor muscles you have relied upon throughout your life weaken or present other symptoms that indicate a pelvic floor dysfunction. 

The pelvic floor muscles are located between the hip bones and the sacrum. The uterus, prostate, bladder, and colon are positioned in the pelvic floor area, supporting these organs. When the muscles in this area are either too weak or too tight, you can suffer from urinary incontinence, constipation, bowel movement strain, pelvic organ prolapse, and sexual dysfunction. 

A dysfunctional pelvic floor is common during pregnancy. Therefore, most patients who seek physiotherapy help are women. However, pelvic floor physiotherapy (PFPT) can help both men and women build strong and supportive pelvic floor muscles.    

 

Do I Need Physio for Pelvic Floor?

When you show up at your physiotherapist’s office, you will learn about the muscles, nerves, joints, and connective tissue in the pelvic floor area and how they affect the concrete pelvic floor dysfunction you suffer from. 

Usually, people seek physio help when the problem progresses, becomes unbearable or too embarrassing (for example, you cannot wait to get to the toilet or suffer from accidental leaks during sports, coughing, or sneezing). 

Many women accept pelvic floor dysfunction as a common childbirth consequence and don’t do anything about it. 

Sportspeople who work hard, especially on the muscles in the abdominal area, can tighten the pelvic floor muscles too much. 

Although weaker pelvic muscles are normal as you age, a simple set of physio exercises for the pelvic floor and appropriate treatment can solve the problem in several months.     

 

Physiotherapy for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The longer you wait with physio after noticing the first signs of a weak or tight pelvic floor, the more effort you will need to invest in getting better. 

When you experience constipation or faecal incontinence that won’t go away, pain during intercourse or urination, muscle spasms in the pelvis, pain or pressure in the rectum, you should schedule a visit to a physiotherapy clinic to get an exam. The physio for pelvic dysfunction can include:

  • Education about how pelvic muscles work
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises)
  • Manual relaxation, which provides for hands-on massage to help with circulation, stretching, and mobility.
  • Biofeedback, based on a computer analysis of a probe test. 
  • Electrical stimulation, including a low voltage current to train the patients how to contract pelvic floor muscles. 
  • Uroflowmetry test
  • Medications, depending on what organs bear the difficulties of the pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, warm baths, or acupuncture.
  • Trigger point injection (TPI) to relax knots that form in the muscle after inactivity. 

Surgery, a last resort for many physio pains, is not an option for the pelvic floor because you need to work on the muscles. It is important to keep in mind that physio for pelvic floor issues won’t solve all problems with your pelvic floor organs. For example, if you have an underlying bowel disease or inflammation issues in the area, you may need alternative treatment.

 

Pelvic Floor Exercises

 

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor strengthening exercises, are by far the most popular pelvic floor workout. 

It will take some time to get used to contracting precisely the muscles in the pelvic area because they are difficult to isolate if you don’t exercise them regularly. 

 

How to Do Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises are performed on an empty bladder, in a lying, sitting or even standing position. 

Hold the muscles tight for 3 to 5 seconds, then release. Breathe deeply and try not to squeeze other muscle areas. In time, you’ll get better with this practice. 

Try not to over-exercise, as you may need to go the other way around and seek physical therapy for tight pelvic floor muscles. 

 

Common Misconceptions about Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy (PFPT)

Common myths about pelvic floor physio people have are: “I’m too old”, “I’m a man”, and “I’ve just had a baby, so the damage is done.” The physio for the pelvic floor is for men and women. Men do not have a uterus, but they do have pelvic muscles. Age is not an obstacle – physio shows results at any age. And if you start physiotherapy soon after childbirth, you will get back in shape in no time. 

As you may reasonably assume, success requires persistence on your part. In the case of pelvic floor physiotherapy, this could take about 4 to 6 weeks. 

 

Physiotherapy for SciaticaPhysiotherapy for Sciatica

Physiotherapy for Sciatica

People often ask for physio for sciatica relief once the pain becomes unbearable. If you experience moderate to severe pain, stiffness, weakness, and tingling (pins and needles) in your lower back, hip, leg or foot, you are a likely patient for sciatica physiotherapy. Before you can hardly move your hip and lower back, you may feel low to moderate pain. A deep, dull ache can also be a sign of sciatica. Sciatica pain can also occur suddenly or worsen in a matter of hours. 

Self-help is possible, and many patients get better over time. However, if the condition produces electric-shock-like pain or has rendered you immobile, you may need immediate physiotherapy treatment for sciatica.

 

Physiotherapy for Sciatica Relief

Sciatica, also called lumbar radiculopathy, is a condition of a pinched or damaged nerve in the lumbar area of the spine. A herniated, bulged, or slipped lumbar disc is a common reason for sciatica. Other known reasons include spinal stenosis, spinal misalignment or osteoarthritis of the spinal vertebrae. But sciatica can also have more innocuous causes, such as an improper sitting posture (and long hours on the chair), wearing uncomfortable (high) heels, or poor lifting and bending techniques during work or sports.

While the pain running down the buttock and the back of the legs can be debilitating, it rarely produces chronic nerve damage. The pain is caused by inflammation, which can be successfully treated by a physiotherapist. 

 

Sciatica Diagnostics

Your physiotherapist will first run a series of tests to reveal the sciatica cause, including:

  • Exploring your medical history    
  • Spinal, orthopaedic, and neurological exam
  • X-ray, CT or MRI scan

The physiotherapist will work on reducing pain and inflammation, strengthening weakened muscles and restoring movement. Best results are achieved with passive and active physio treatment for sciatica.      

 

Physio for Sciatica Pain (Passive Physiotherapy)

If you are in pain or motionless, you are most likely to avoid any movement. Instead of actively participating in the treatment, you may prefer passive help. The physiotherapy for sciatica, in this case, can include over-the-counter medications, light stretching, deep tissue massage, ultrasound, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), and cold or hot packs.

 

Over-the-Counter Medications for Sciatica

Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Ketoprofen, and Naproxen Sodium can provide immediate sciatica relief by reducing pain and inflammation.   

 

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a type of physiotherapy that uses soft strokes and firm, gliding pressure to reach deep layers of muscles and fascia. It eases pain and tension in sore muscles and tissues and can improve limited mobility. This type of sciatica therapy is always best performed by a licensed physiotherapist who will use hands, elbows, fingers, knuckles, and palms to “untie” knots or rigid tissues in the painful area.  

 

Ultrasound Therapy

By gently heating the muscles and improving circulation, ultrasound waves can help decrease pain faster and reduce inflexibility, tension, cramping, and swelling. 

 

Cold and Hot Packs

Start with ice bags wrapped in a soft towel to heal acute pain in the affected area. Move to hot packs – heating pads or a heat lamp – after a couple of days, and alternate hot and cold packs if the pain remains. 

 

Physio Exercises for Sciatica (Active Physiotherapy)

The type of physio exercises for sciatica will depend on the cause of your condition. Exercises that stretch the piriformis muscle, the hamstrings, and the hop extension will alleviate lower back and leg pain.

 

Light Anti-sciatica Stretching 

 Examples of helpful sciatica exercises are:  

  • Pigeon pose (reclining, sitting and forward) 
  • Seated spinal stretch
  • Knee-to-opposite-shoulder
  • Knee hugs
  • Standing hamstring stretch
  • Cat/cow pose

You may want to remain inactive if severe pain persists. But bed rest is not recommended, as long as you can move within the pain constraints. Keep in mind there are movements to be avoided when suffering from sciatica.

 

Hydrotherapy

Light muscle toning exercises performed underwater will help you strengthen the body in the sore areas, thus supporting the spine and the weakened muscles. Water aerobics and swimming usually don’t cause pain for patients with sciatica.

  

Adhering to ergonomics principles, active life and weight reduction is typically on the list of long-term help your physio clinic will recommend once the acute condition subdues. You will need to familiarise yourself with how your habits affect your body posture and develop new ones to prevent future issues.