The Top 5 Myths About Physiotherapy That Are Fake News
Physiotherapy (or Physical Therapy for you State-side) is a common form of therapy for people who are in pain or have some form of movement dysfunction. It is readily accessible without requiring referral from your general practitioner (GP). It is however shrouded in some untruths, so we’re here to dispel the myths.
Myth 1: It will hurt
Many people think physiotherapy is meant to hurt. A lot of my patients had seen physiotherapists for years who worked on their back, shoulders and neck to try and “loosen knots”, or “stretch tight muscles”. Often, they’d leave these sessions tender and wondering if it’s normal or not. If you’re new to physiotherapy, this can be particularly daunting.
Physiotherapy is not supposed to be painful in and of itself. There are many techniques that a physiotherapist will use in order to help with your problem. Some examples are stretches, deep tissue massage, self-releasing, foam rolling or even shockwave technology. These modalities may have some associated discomfort, especially if you are new to receiving them. But you shouldn’t walk away from your physiotherapy session hurting more than when you walked in. Physiotherapists will be guided by your levels of discomfort during the session, and will adjust pressure/force to prevent you from experiencing pain.
Sports physiotherapy is probably the most common example of patients expecting their session to hurt. Many times, I’ve had athletes ask me to go harder, press firmer, stretch farther. They’ll say things like “no pain, no gain”, or “if it isn’t hurting then it isn’t working”. But this mentality is most likely born from the locker room rather than the evidence base. Effective stretching is about consistency, not force. Muscle plasticity is about how you use your muscles, not how hard you pound them out.
There are few exceptions to this rule of course. Patients who have just undergone surgery might require some physical stretching that is clearly painful, (i.e. total knee replacements). The focus here is the prevention of post-surgical contractures, which can result in failed procedures. Patients with pain disorders, like CRPS or allodynia, may also experience heightened levels of pain for treatments which are essentially not painful. But again, this doesn’t mean you should just sit back and expect to be hurt. Instead work together with your physiotherapist to find the level of discomfort that you can handle which is still effective. Physio isn’t meant to hurt you.
Myth 2: It costs an arm and a leg
If you think investing in your health is expensive, try paying for pain and injury that keeps coming back. Many people have gotten to physiotherapy after trying a variety of other services, such as acupuncture, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractics or herbal medicines. This can be an expensive exercise, with some patients committing to 5 or 6 sessions before they’ve even seen results. At Sycamore Health, it is our practice to ensure you are only being seen for necessary treatment, with a lot of our techniques being hands-off. These include home exercises, stretches and advice, which you don’t need to pay for repeatedly. We reserve the hands-on work for when you really need it, and in this way you won't be breaking the bank. If your treatment isn’t working, we’ll guide you towards the next steps to ensure you are taken care of properly.
Myth 3: It’s only for sports people
Physiotherapy is certainly not only helpful for sports people! We use evidence-based health education and exercise prescription to treat a range of conditions such as chronic pain, soft tissue injuries, and functional disorders.
There are many specialty areas in physio, with ‘sports physiotherapy’ being just one. Did you know there are also cardiorespiratory, neurological, paediatric AND women’s health physiotherapists, just to name a few? Physiotherapy is diverse and there are many ways that it can help you return to function and reduce your pain. At Sycamore Health, we have the skills to help you with whatever pain or dysfunction you are feeling, and if it’s beyond our scope, we’ll help you find the treatment you need.
Myth 4: It’s only for muscles
A common belief we hear at Sycamore Health is that physiotherapy deals only with muscles, while chiropractors treat bones and joints. However, this is not true! Musculoskeletal physiotherapists are qualified to treat muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones and cartilage disorders! Physiotherapy extends far beyond simply musculoskeletal injuries as well; we have treatments for cardiac (heart), respiratory (lungs), neurological (brain and nerves) and endocrine (gland) issues as well. If you have pain or dysfunction that limits your movement, the odds are that physiotherapy is the right service for you.
Myth 5: You always need a referral
Physiotherapy is a primary care treatment and while it’s the most common referral from Australian GPs, a referral is by no means required. This means you can walk in to most physiotherapists off the street and make an appointment. We do take private health funds to help you subsidise costs, or if you are referred under a care plan, you might receive your treatment bulk billed. The benefit of being a primary health service is that you can get the relief you need right away.
Sycamore Health is a multidisciplinary clinic located in Morayfield and home to your local physiotherapy experts. Our professional team will work with you, assess your needs and provide the best quality service to ensure the greatest outcome. If you have any other queries, please contact us!