Physiotherapy in a Nutshell

Physiotherapy in a Nutshell

What is Physiotherapy?

The holistic approach to healthcare that aims to restore function and movement in individuals affected by illness, injury, and disability is called physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can also help reduce pain and stiffness, repair soft tissue damage, enhance mobility, and improve the patient’s overall functions and life quality. Physiotherapy is provided by regulated and specially-trained practitioners called physiotherapists. With the use of evidence-based care and advanced techniques, physiotherapists diagnose, assess, treat, and prevent a vast range of movement disorders and health conditions.

Physiotherapy also extends to acute care, rehabilitation, health promotion, injury prevention, functional mobility maintenance, occupational health, chronic disease management, dietary and exercise management, and patient and carer education.

When is Physiotherapy used?

Physiotherapy is beneficial for individuals of all ages with diverse health conditions. Some of the needs physiotherapy can address include:

  • Cardiorespiratory – Supports, rehabilitates and helps people living with (or at risk) of diseases that affect the lungs and the heart like asthma and coronary artery disease. Physiotherapists can also help patients prepare for (or recover from) surgery. They also prescribe interventions and exercises that will help improve the patient’s quality of life.
  • Musculoskeletal – Treats clients with musculoskeletal conditions like back and neck pain. Physiotherapy intervention includes preventing injury and strain, addressing underlying problems, and teaching exercises (and other interventions) that will help promote and enhance mobility.
  • Cancer, Lymphoedema, and Palliative care – Physiotherapy addresses a range of patient needs including treatment, management, and prevention of pain, joint and muscle stiffness, fatigue, and deconditioning.
  • Neurology – Improves the quality of life and promotes movement in patients who have had spinal cord or severe brain damage (secondary to trauma) and those who suffer from neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Continence and Women’s health – Prevents and manages pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence in women, men, and children. Physiotherapy is also used in other areas like pregnancy, birth, post-partum care, prolapse, bedwetting, loss of bowel or bladder control, and those who are living with (or recovering from) prostate cancer.
  • Orthopaedic – Helps prevent and manage chronic or acute orthopaedic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fractures and amputations. Physiotherapy is also beneficial for patients preparing for or rehabilitating from orthopaedic surgery and other orthopaedic hospital admissions.
  • Pain – Uses a psychologically informed and interdisciplinary approach in the prevention and management of pain and its impact. Physiotherapists also collaborate with other social care professionals to manage pain including identifying psychosocial risk factors that can lead to chronicity.
  • Sports – Helps prevent, diagnose, and treat musculoskeletal and sporting injuries from professional athletes to those who are not involved in sports.

How is a “typical” physiotherapy session like?

Each session with a physiotherapist can differ from one person to another, depending on the patient’s health condition and needs. However, a typical physiotherapy session may include:

  • Diagnosing and assessing the patient’s needs and condition.
  • Working with the patient to identify and attain goals from maintaining independence and mobility to running a marathon.
  • Developing a prevention and treatment plan that will factor in the patient’s activities, lifestyle, and general health.
  • Prescribing physical and exercise aides when needed.

What are some of the conditions that can benefit from physiotherapy?


Since exercise has been known to help manage some of the symptoms of arthritis, the expertise and guidance of a competent physiotherapist can come in very handy. Physios can provide education and advice on pain relief, exercises, and ways to manage the condition to help patients with arthritis stay independent and mobile. They can also teach ways to help strengthen the muscles and improve joint movement. In most cases, physiotherapists also help patients before and after a joint operation like Total Hip Replacement (THR) and Total Knee Replacement (TKR).

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiac rehabilitation programs are considered beneficial as they can help improve the patient’s health and overall quality of life. Physiotherapists play a vital role in cardiac rehabilitation programs. Cardiac rehab can get the patients back on their feet physically and emotionally. It involves not just exercise but also education and support from the hospital until patients return home and perform their day-to-day routines.


Physiotherapy can help strengthen both the muscles and the bones. It can also help manage pain and prevent bone thinning. A physiotherapist works with patients by teaching them weight-bearing activities and exercises that will help strengthen the bones. In addition, physiotherapists can also help manage pain brought about by compression fractures.

Back Pain

Physiotherapy will not only help manage back pain but it can also help speed up recovery and help prevent the problem from recurring. Physiotherapists will first check if there’s a serious underlying problem that is connected to the back pain before coming up with the best treatment intervention. From there, they would look for ways to prevent further complications. Physios can recommend a range of treatments that can help manage back pain including appropriate exercises, manual treatments, and in some cases, acupuncture.