Rheumatology is a fascinating area of medicine. As a private rheumatologist consultant in London, I am also a lupus consultant. I am a gout specialist, an arthritis doctor, and someone who can treat fibromyalgia. Even more fascinating is the range of treatments I can offer patients. Physiotherapy is among them.
Yes, physiotherapy can be utilised for all the conditions I treat. It is not always appropriate, which is why each patient is treated according to their specific needs. But physiotherapy can accomplish a lot for patients suffering from limited mobility, chronic pain, and other symptoms.
If you are not familiar with physiotherapy, it is a different kind to treatment in that it approaches illness, injury, and disease from a completely different angle. A good way to understand physiotherapy is to think of it as a ‘mechanical’ treatment. We are actually working the body in an effort to help it heal itself.
Physiotherapy Involves Movement
The NHS sums up physiotherapy as being “helpful for people of all ages with a wide range of health conditions.” They then go on to give some examples of conditions for which physiotherapy is appropriate. The list includes:
- injury or disease to the bones, joints, and soft tissue
- nervous system or brain disorders
- cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.
Physiotherapy is characterised by movement. A doctor or physiotherapist utilises exercise, massage, soft tissue manipulation, and other physical techniques to strengthen muscles, increase mobility, and even provide long-term pain relief.
Compared to Other Treatments
One of the things I most appreciate about physiotherapy is its mechanical nature. By contrast, analgesia is a treatment that relies on drugs to reduce swelling and pain. Immunology is another drug therapy. Its main goal is to suppress the immune system so as to prevent it from attacking the patient’s body.
Both analgesic and immunosuppressants are effective treatments for certain diseases and conditions. I make use of both types of treatments alongside physiotherapy. What makes physiotherapy so different is that there are no drugs involved. It is a fully mechanical treatment that seeks to aid the body in its own efforts to heal.
How Physiotherapy Works
Physiotherapy is rooted in the understanding that the body naturally wants to move. Moreover, regular movement is necessary to maintain mobility and keep the body in good, working order. To that end, it involves three basic components:
- Movement – Clinicians work with patients to develop exercises intended to help improve health, strengthen the body, and improve mobility. Exercises may be demonstrated in the office. Patients then go home and continue exercises on their own.
- Manipulation – Clinicians will actually use their hands to manually manipulate soft tissue. They may also employ massage techniques. The overall goal of manual manipulation is to relieve pain and stiffness and encourage greater mobility.
- Education – Clinicians educate their patients about the relationships between their daily lives and whatever conditions they suffer from. They also advise patients in ways they can modify their daily routines in order to help improve overall health.
As a private rheumatologist in London, I personally believe physiotherapy is an underutilized treatment. It is appropriate for all sorts of conditions for which improved mobility and greater muscular strength would be beneficial. If you would like to know more about how physiotherapy might be utilised to improve your health, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with my London office. I would be more than happy to work with you to help you feel better.
Article by Dr. Naveen Bhadauria