10 Myths of Physiotherapy | Element Physio

Our clinic blogger, physiotherapist Jenn Everett, has recently moved to Calgary and we have been missing her witty and thorough entries.  She’s left some big blogging shoes to fill so I thought I’d take a stab at this month’s post.  I could barely contain myself and have decided to honor her absence with a  TWO PART October blog.  In honor of Halloween our theme is “myths.”  It scares the living daylights out of us that some people believe the following is true.

  1. You need a referral

FALSE, not always.  Often our clients are referring themselves to physiotherapy.  We don’t require a referral to book appointments but sometimes your insurance company does.  Call us and we’d be happy to find out for you!

  1. Physiotherapy is Supposed to Hurt

FALSE, not always.  Physio can be uncomfortable.  I have been given the nickname “physio-terrorist” by more than one client (their joints/muscles were very stiff).  There are certain occasions where physio may be extremely uncomfortable (frozen shoulders, fractured elbows) when we are trying to gain back very restricted movement.  No, we don’t enjoy “torturing” you.  Quite often physio is tolerable and downright comfortable.

  1. If I go to physio I have to stop my work/activity/sport/training

IT DEPENDS.  We don’t enjoy telling someone to stop training or that they need a few weeks off work.  Our ultimate goal is to get people moving SAFELY and to promote activity and exercise. On occasion an injury requires a break to heal properly or other times we may be following your surgeon’s/physician’s guidelines.

  1. Acupuncture…It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!

FALSE.  There is scientific evidence that acupuncture can help with pain, swelling, muscle tone, movement, and inflammation.  The phenomenon can be explained with two different views, Eastern vs. Western medicine.  Eastern medicine believes disease and illness occurs when energy (Qi), is blocked between acupuncture points.  Inserting needles at specific points helps to restore the flow of energy.  Western medicine explains the effect of acupuncture through the release of endorphins to settle pain and inflammation.  Consult your physio to try acupuncture at your next appointment.

  1. Physiotherapists only assess and provide stretches, I’ll need to get my “strength” exercises from another professional.

FALSE.  An assessment provides physiotherapists with a blue print of your injury.  It helps us identify if something is moving too much or too little.  If a muscle is weak, strong, tight or just right.  From that we are able to design an exercise program for you which may include range of motion (movement exercises), stretching AND strengthening.  We have a great understanding of the anatomy and movement required for different activities.  We may need to add, remove, or tweak exercises from your existing program.

  1. I only need physiotherapy if I’m injured.  Those poor people dancing the monster mash.

FALSE.  Although a great percentage of our clients seek out treatment this way.
We often encourage:

  • Pre-rehab: prior to surgery to maintain strength or movement.  Muscle has a great memory for movement it is familiar with and we can help manage your pain.
  • Injury Screening: before your sport or in your “off season.”  We can identify loss of movement or weak muscles that may be problematic.
  • Maintenance physio: during your “in season” OR for a chronic condition.  Many people do annual visits to their physician, why  not annual visits to your physio!
  1. If my ______ hurts, it must be the problem.

FALSE.  1. Some structures can send pain away from their location; knee pain that is travelling down from your back.  2. Knee pain resulting from altered movement or strength at the hip OR ankle.  We enjoy the challenge!

Remember…the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone.

  1. You have to be an old person or athlete to attend.

FALSE.  We see clients of all abilities and ages at the clinic.  Our youngest client has been 7 months old, and our oldest in their 90’s (we’re pretty sure they weren’t a vampire).

  1. My “injury/problem” has to have a name in order to get better.

FALSE.  Sometimes a diagnosis is obvious; a sprained ankle, broken arm, disc bulge.  Injuries caused by a specific incident are easier to diagnose.  Sometimes things are more complicated, we don’t have a specific name but instead a collection of contributing factors.  For example, your “back pain” could be caused by a stiff joint in your back tight muscles on the front of the thigh and poor abdominal strength.  A physio assessment can identify these issues and we can start to take corrective measures.

  1. I need an X-Ray/MRI/ultrasound before my physio can treat me.

FALSE.  Imaging won’t pick up a stiff joint, tight muscles, or weak muscles.  We are extremely thorough when screening our patients.  At your first visit we take a very detailed medical history and perform specific assessments (based on symptoms).  Additional treatments help us determine if you’re on the path to healing or if you require a referral to your doctor for further medical evaluation.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week’s blog: Demystifying the Pelvic Floor!