“Physiotherapy can make day-to-day activities easier. For example, it could help you if you have difficulties walking, climbing stairs, or getting in and out of bed. It can also help you if you have had a fall or are recovering from an operation,” explains London-based chartered physiotherapist, Sammy Margo.
Who can physiotherapy help?
“Physiotherapy can help anyone who is starting to see the effects of life’s wear and tear on their bodies. It can also treat or prevent physical problems that might be brewing as a result of years of poor posture or sitting badly,” says Sammy Margo. It is also invaluable for anyone with a specific health problem such as back and/or neck pain, arthritis, heart disease breathing problems, repetitive strain injury and many other conditions including osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and incontinence.
What does physiotherapy involve?
You can see a physiotherapist in a dedicated clinic or they can visit you at home. At your first session you’ll discuss your problem and what caused it, have a physical examination to assess your flexibility, strength and range of movement. The physio will then devise a plan of care tailored to your needs. “We take a holistic viewpoint and look at the person’s whole life and daily activities taking into account for example if they are looking after elderly relatives and/or kids, where they live, how they get to work and so on,” says Sammy.
If you have any pain or swelling the physiotherapist will try to ease this through a range of treatments. “Physiotherapy is very hands on,” observes Sammy. These may include massage, heat or cold treatments, ultrasound, acupuncture, TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation), manipulation, mobilisation and/or hydrotherapy (water treatment); many of these are designed to reduce the inflammation that underlies many painful conditions.
They will also show you some exercises to do at home to restore flexibility, build strength and improve co-ordination and balance as well as recommending an exercise regime to help prevent future problems. “Essential ingredients include cardiovascular (aerobic exercise) for 30 minutes a day, strength training to improve muscle strength, flexibility (stretching) and balance,” explains Sammy.
How to find a physiotherapist
There are two different ways. You can ask your GP to refer you on the NHS. You may have to wait several weeks or even months for treatment, depending on your problem and where you live. Alternatively you can self-refer yourself to see a private physiotherapist. Expect to pay between £40 and £50 for half an hour in London and £75 to £90 for half an hour if the physiotherapist visits you cat home or from £30 for half an hour elsewhere in the country.
Find out more about physiotherapy
To find a physiotherapist near you contact The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy by calling 020 7306 6666 or visiting their website www.csp.org.uk.