Physiotherapy clinics provide services like heat therapy, joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, and hydrotherapy. These treatments can help ease pain, stiffness, and inflammation caused by injuries and chronic health conditions.
Physiotherapy can help patients manage their injury and its symptoms as well as teach them how to improve mobility. Some common injuries and conditions that require physiotherapy include:
1. Joint Mobilisation
Joint mobilization is a manual technique that involves the physical therapist applying targeted pressures or forces on a joint in specific directions to help improve its mobility and decrease pain. The intensity of the pressure varies depending on the injury or musculoskeletal pain that is being treated. It is a hands on treatment so you will need to be in a comfortable position and you may feel slight discomfort at times.
There are different types of joints in the body and they each move differently. Ball and socket joints, like those found in the shoulder and hip, allow backward, forward and sideways motions. Hinge joints, like those in the fingers, knees and elbows, permit only flexion or extension movements. Joint mobilisation helps to break down adhesions and increase the mobility of the affected joint which in turn increases its ability to absorb load and decreases pain.
A physiotherapist performs a variety of different joint mobilization techniques to address your individual needs. Typically the first grade of mobilization is done with slow oscillations within the available range of movement which help to reduce pain and improve the joint’s ability to move. Manipulations, which are quick movements outside the available range of movement are used to increase the mobility of the joint and can be accompanied by a clicking or popping sound.
The only contraindication for joint mobilization is if the joint is already hypermobile or unstable. As joint mobilization requires the use of physical force on a joint it can impact other surrounding body tissue and may cause a fluctuation in the blood flow. This is why it is advisable to have the appropriate consultation with a health professional prior to proceeding with this type of treatment.
2. Myofascial Release
Myofascial release is a hands on manual therapy technique which uses gentle prolonged tensile forces to safely release restricted fascia. It is a non-invasive form of treatment which relieves pressure on muscles, bones and nerves to help you resolve your pain patterns and improve mobility and strength.
Fascia is a web of connective tissue that encases every muscle, bone, tendon and organ in your body. This web is incredibly important for your stability, protecting against injury and reducing friction between joints. However, over time, tension can build in this tissue and create adhesions (tight spots). These areas are often not felt by a therapist or do not show up on diagnostic tests but they may cause a lot of pain, numbness, and tingling.
Eastside Physio + Co use a gentle sustained pressure to allow the fascia to soften, stretch and elongate. This is done by either using the therapists hand or a tool to apply the pressure. The therapist will hold this pressure until they feel a barrier has been engaged and then the therapist will move in a specific direction to break up the restriction.
MFR is a type of massage and is not generally covered by medical insurance. There is limited research on this treatment method and broad medical support is difficult to find but the technique has shown promising results in patients with chronic back pain.
Myofascial release is a safe and effective treatment for those with chronic and acute musculoskeletal problems. It has been shown to have a positive impact on a variety of conditions including low back and neck pain, headaches, and myofascial syndrome. It also helps in improving posture and balance.
3. Soft Tissue Release
Soft tissue release is a technique that breaks down muscle adhesions and improves blood flow to the area, restoring optimal length, resilience and function. This can also help in reducing pain, discomfort and improving movement of the affected area. This is often used in conjunction with joint mobilisation to ensure a full recovery of the client’s symptoms.
Soft Tissue Release is a manual therapy technique that combines precise pressure with active or passive stretching. Your therapist will press on a muscle to create a ‘lock’ in the muscle and then instruct you to either stretch out the muscle or move around. Unlike traditional massage where the muscles are stroked, kneaded and manipulated, soft tissue release requires the muscle to be held in specific positions before being moved or lengthened. This allows your therapist to assess the texture, tightness and movement restriction of the tissue and identify key areas that could benefit from treatment.
Muscles are made up of bundles of muscle fibers (called sarcomeres) which are lined up end-to-end and attached to each other like train cars on railroad tracks. These sarcomeres align in rows of striations throughout the body which dictates their direction and pull of movement. Soft Tissue Release techniques manipulate and apply pressure to the muscle based on these striations to reduce tension, improve flexibility and alleviate pain.
MFRT has been shown to improve the flexibility of the Superficial Back Line in both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. However, further research into the effectiveness of MFRT and other similar techniques is needed. Until such time, your therapist will continue to refine and develop her technique knowledge by regularly attending training seminars. This way, she can share her expertise with you and ensure your problems are addressed in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
Therapeutic ultrasound, also known as ultrasonic therapy or USS, uses sound waves to generate heat, move tissue and promote healing. It is a common procedure used by physical therapists for many different injuries and conditions. Unlike three-dimensional (3D) or four-dimensional (4D) fetal ultrasound imaging, which are most often associated with obstetrical purposes, therapeutic ultrasound is generally safe for all types of body tissues and has been used for several decades in treating soft tissue injuries and pain.
An ultrasound device consists of an alternating current generator that powers a head, which in turn transmits mechanical energy to the body through the piezoelectric effect (compacting and expanding crystals). The resulting sound vibrations cause the cells of the body tissues to vibrate, generating thermal changes within the tissues such as heating, increased blood flow and tissue relaxation.
The heat generated by ultrasound therapy reduces pain, stiffness, and edema and helps with range of motion exercises to improve flexibility. It also breaks down scar tissue and improves muscle movement by increasing the elasticity of the muscle fibers. It is used in treating conditions like sprains, strains, tendonitis and arthritis to accelerate the healing process.
During therapeutic ultrasound, patients are awake and the sound wand (transducer) is placed over the injured tissue. The patient may feel a warm or tingling sensation around the treatment area, and occasionally slight pulsing sensation from the wand movement.
Aside from the heat generation, ultrasound therapy also works mechanically to disrupt the cell membranes of the injured tissues. This creates a vacuum-like effect in the tissues that breaks down the cellular walls and destroys some of the internal proteins inside. This process is called cavitation.
Electrotherapy is a non-invasive treatment method that sends electrical impulses through your skin to nerves and muscles. The treatment stimulates the release of natural painkilling endorphins and helps to reduce inflammation in the body. It also stimulates blood circulation and can help to increase muscle strength.
There are many different types of electrotherapy machines used in physiotherapy. Some are large and have several electrode pads that are placed over your injured area. These pads deliver small pulses of electricity through your skin which cause muscles to contract and relax. It is also possible to use a smaller hand-held device that is similar to the ones used in cardiac arrest situations. This type of machine delivers a low simulated frequency which is aimed at helping to increase your muscles’ strength and improve mobility.
One of the most commonly used devices in physiotherapy is TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). This small electronic device uses an array of sticky pads with electrodes that are placed over your injury. The battery-operated unit then sends out an electric current to the affected area which can block out or replace the pain signals that are transmitted by the body to the brain.
Another form of electrotherapy that is used is CES (cranial electrical stimulation). This is an alternative therapy being used for anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders by sending a very mild form of electric current into the brain. The treatment is very gentle and there are no side effects.
Generally, muscles are controlled by electrical impulses sent from the brain to the nerves and muscles. When the nerves that transmit these signals are damaged, they become less effective and your muscles can lose their tone and muscle mass. This is called atrophy and can happen after an injury, surgery or long periods of immobilisation.