5 Common Misconceptions About Physiotherapists
In view of the ageing population and the growing interest among Singaporeans in physical activities, more people are coming to seek treatment for their ailments and injuries. Despite that, there are still some misconceptions about physiotherapists and what we do. Here are the 5 most common misconceptions people tend to have about physiotherapists.
1. PHYSIOTHERAPISTS JUST DO MASSAGES
Physiotherapists do perform some form of ‘massages’ during the treatment session but that is just part of the whole treatment process. This form of massage is usually know as soft tissue release or deep tissue massage. The difference between Physiotherapists and masseuses is that we diagnose, assess and then put all the information we gathered through a clinical thought process to find out the cause of the pain. If muscle tightness is found to be one of the causes of the pain, Physiotherapists will address it by executing soft tissue releases. The ‘massage’ usually does not last through the whole treatment process. Good Physiotherapists will eventually work together with the patient to address other issues leading to the tightness ie joint stiffness, muscle imbalance or weakness in other muscles.
2. PHYSIOTHERAPISTS JUST TEACH EXERCISES AND SEND PATIENTS HOME TO DO THEM
Customised exercise prescription is definitely a skill that separates Physiotherapists from other professions. In fact, Physiotherapists are the only people you can trust when it comes to exercises when you are having an injury. They are rigorously trained in areas of exercise rehabilitation which take into account medical conditions and musculoskeletal (bones, muscles and joints) injuries when designing an exercise programme for the patients. Good Physiotherapists are able to customise exercises to help improve the patients’ conditions and also help to monitor if they are doing correctly. A good physiotherapy session will always involve the Physiotherapist going through the exercises thoroughly with the patients before sending them home with an exercise programme.
3. YOU CAN ONLY SEE A PHYSIOTHERAPIST AFTER SEEING A DOCTOR
Physiotherapists are trained to be first line practitioners. This means they are qualified to see the patient directly if the patient walks in without any referrals. That being said, Physiotherapists can’t help with all conditions, just like we can’t expect a doctor to know how to fix a car engine. However, all good Physiotherapists will be able to identify problems that require further medical attention and refer them to seek appropriate and accurate medical attention. Physiotherapists are trained this way to ensure patients who can benefit from early physiotherapy treatment can receive intervention faster without going through a long referral process.
4. PHYSIOTHERAPISTS DON’T TREAT SPINE PROBLEMS
Physiotherapy is one of the most effective conservative treatment for spine issues and pain. This fact is backed up by extensive and on-going research. In fact, physiotherapy treatments fit seamlessly with orthodox mainstream medical interventions and is recognised by the medical profession to be one of the safest ways to treat spine problems conservatively. Good Physiotherapists don’t just treat the scans patients went through. They will be able to take into account the patients’ functional problems, activity levels and psychological well-being to prescribe a holistic and effective approach to a patient’s spine problem. At the end of the day, Physiotherapists are health advocates who promote active lifestyles and encourage patients to take a proactive approach to manage their health problems.
5. PHYSIOTHERAPY TREATMENTS ARE ALWAYS PAINFUL
Good Physiotherapists will always seek to reduce pain and discomfort within session even if patients have been suffering from pain for a long time. The fact is patients may feel some soreness sometimes after a session of physiotherapy which involves manual therapy and soft tissue work. This soreness is normal and is expected to subside within 48-72 hours, after which patients will usually report an improvement in function or movement or further reduction in pain from their primary condition.