What techniques does a physiotherapist employ?
Depending on the nature of the injury or problem they are treating, physical therapists may employ passive or active physiotherapy.
Passive physiotherapy is a treatment where the physiotherapist moves the patient’s muscles and joints or uses modalities such as
- heat or ice packs to reduce pain.
- application of minute electric shocks called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine to reduce muscle stiffness and spasm.
- ultrasonic treatment to relieve pain and swelling in the muscle or joints.
Less frequently, physiotherapists may try deep tissue massage, needling, or joint manipulation to relieve muscle stiffness and pain.
Active physiotherapy means the patient has to make efforts to move their joints and muscles. Here, the physiotherapist may ask the patient to actively assist or resist a movement they are doing as a way to increase strength or flexibility. The physiotherapist will assist the patient as they slowly reinitiates their physical activity and eventually return to the level of activity the patient desires. The patient will be taught the ways one can effectively manage body motions when they are away from the clinic. Active physiotherapy includes demonstrating or teaching the patient proper movement patterns that allow one to heal with minimal discomfort. They will also prescribe specific devices such as belts, trusses, guards, canes, and splints to assist, adapt, support, and protect the patients’ bones, muscles, and joints.