Physiotherapists Treat ALL Spine Problems?
Q: Hi, I’m wondering if you can help me out here. Do physiotherapists only treat muscle related injuries and problems? If it is a joint or bone problem, does physiotherapy actually help? Slightly confused. Thanks.
A: Yes, physiotherapy treats ALL spine problems, including those related to muscle, joints and bones!
A common misconception that we hear as physiotherapists in Singapore is: “For muscle related injuries, I visit a physiotherapist. If it was a joint injury, I would visit a chiropractor.”
Actually, it is a MISUNDERSTANDING among many people that physiotherapists treat muscular problems only while it is chiropractors who specialise in problems relating to your neck, back or spine.
In fact, as qualified Physiotherapists, we are highly trained and skilled in the assessment and treatment of all musculoskeletal problems related to bone, muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments and nerves, in every part of our body.
Spinal problems – such as neck pain, upper back tightness, lower back aching – are the most commonly dealt with problem as physiotherapists and is our area of speciality.
Physiotherapy takes a gentler, safer approach to neck and back pain injury treatment compared to that of a chiropractor.
Spinal manipulation is fundamental of chiropractic treatment. This is something that manual physiotherapists are also able to perform as well. However, physiotherapists often choose a safer, gentler solution to start with, like joint mobilisation, pain relief modalities or exercise based therapy. Evidence clearly demonstrates that either technique, when used alone, are equally effective. Hence we choose to go with the safer option to help you recover with less risk.
Many people associate TCM or chiropractic treatments with a ‘pop’ sound heard when their joint is ‘put back’.
Actually, there is no evidence to support the belief that understand that joint manipulation puts joints back in place that have slipped “out”! In fact there is evidence that shows this is not usually the case. Be it manipulation or mobilisation, the benefits achieved are by loosening up a joint which has become stiff and therefore restricting movement or causing pain.
Evidence is clear that in spinal pain an active treatment approach results in the best outcome. Exercise in addition to mobilisation/manipulation is clearly more beneficial than either alone. Also, an understanding of factors contributing to the problem and how these can be modified is important.
When you see a physiotherapist for your problem, we will not only treat the dysfunction of the joints and muscles, but find out what’s the root cause of the pain. Physiotherapists provide you with ways you can help yourself at home with appropriate self-care and exercises. Some of these will be for immediate relief and others for long term prevention.
A physiotherapist will NOT convince you that you need to come for regular manipulation treatments for 1-2years program or over 100 sessions for maintenance. Who knows your neck or back pain can be recovered in just a few sessions of physiotherapy?
A physiotherapist will quickly help you with the neck or back pain and provide you with the self-management to help yourself in the long term without requiring excessive treatment (and expense!)
So next time you have joint, bone, spine pain or injury, consider seeing a physiotherapist instead.
It just might be what you need to stop your back or neck pain!