I have been a Chartered Physiotherapist for twenty years. I regularly have patients tell me they have been sent to HAVE physiotherapy by their doctor. It is also common that they will report, they have HAD physiotherapy and it didn’t work.
I always ask what their previous experience was, and why they think it didn’t work. Often, the story will be…I had 3 or 4 sessions of ultrasound, or I was given a sheet of exercises and told to go away and get on with it. On further questioning I discover the patient has not been given any kind of diagnosis, plan of action, or has any idea of the pathology of their injury. I would argue at this stage it is not physiotherapy that hasn’t worked: they have not found the right Physiotherapist to help their problem.
I am a very hands-on Physiotherapist and really value the benefits of soft tissue and joint mobilisation for pain relief, and restoring normal movement, but this is a small part of what I do.
My passion lies in ensuring that by the end of the first session, my patient understands their problem. What the potential injury is, how the body will do an amazing job at healing it. Why they are feeling pain, how we are going to work together to achieve their goal, and most importantly, how long it is likely to take and why.
It is important to know that most injuries will not get better with no input from the patient. The body needs to be moved and activated for the injured structure to heal well.
Communication between my patients and me is very important. I need to know if our agreed plan is not working. It is not a one shoe fits all approach. Two similar conditions do not respond the same way, and what works for one patient, may aggravate another’s symptoms. Physiotherapists have a huge toolbox and are highly skilled at modifying programmes and changing the approach until it does work. I really want to know if the plan is not working.
Patients are often nervous about telling their Physiotherapist this and will often just stop attending. We can’t help if you don’t report back to us. So please, if you are seeing a Physiotherapist and it is not working for you, start by telling your Practitioner. Give them the opportunity to modify your plan. Make sure you fully understand what the problem is, and what the rehabilitation plan is.
If Physiotherapy hasn’t worked for you, find yourself a Physiotherapist that does.