When To Call A Physiotherapist


We are committed to bringing you information to help you make informed decisions with respect to your health and physiotherapy
Today, we will give an overview of ‘WHEN TO CALL A PHYSIOTHERAPIST’. Tweet your questions directly @coMunityphysio

Patient care involves a multi-disciplinary approach and comprises a team of specialists
Some medical conditions make patient referrals quite easy. For others, it maybe unclear whom to refer the patient to, or if need be

Physiotherapists (PTs) are experts in movement and function who work in partnership with their patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders, which may have been present from birth, acquired through accident or injury, or as a result of ageing or life-changing events

Physiotherapy is concerned with identifying and maximising quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation

Age range of patients that PTs attend to? Cradle to Elderly

To paraphrase, PTs will help with Function including Activities of Daily Living (ADLs); which can be subdivided into Basic ADLs + Industrial ADLs in partnership with the Occupational therapist

BADLs involve mostly personal care and hygiene. Inability to bathe, feed, groom oneself, transfers etc  IADLs will deal with your occupation, and more

PTs will help with Movement disorders. This happens when the speed, fluency, quality and ease of movement are over- (too much) or under- (too little)
PTs will help with conditions that are present from birth, Acquired through accident, Acquired through injury, Ageing or Life-changing events

When do you call or seek out a physiotherapist?

You see a PT when there is

  • Increased pain
  • Decreased range of motion at joints
  • Decline in function (remember ADLs)
  • need to improve your physical activity level

Kindly note that all four listed above may be present in one patient. They are not always mutually exclusive

  • Let us look at Increased Pain – Low/Lower Back Pain (which is just an umbrella term for varying conditions that may cause pain at the lower back)
    What a PT will do – access your back and all joints of your lower limbs. Determine cause of back pain, educate you on back-care, and prepare a treatment routine that is solely designed for you. Your PT may use Thermal therapy, Electrotherapy, Soft tissue massage, Manual therapy, Therapeutic exercises, Home exercise program
  • Decreased range of motion E.g. Joint stiffness after a fracture has been fixed (this may involve pain, reduced motion), arthritis
    What a PT will do is to access the specific and nearby joints, design an exercise program to help restore motion at the joint using Thermal therapy, Range of motion (ROM) exercises, Muscle strengthening, Provide orthotics (assistive devices), Re-educate functional use of limb, Home exercise program
  • Decline in function E.g. Stroke
    What a PT will do is to access level of function before and after a stroke. Gently work with patient to map out goals. Clearly, explain any barriers to recovery and map out a treatment routine tailored to achieve goals of therapy. Your PT may use Thermal therapy (if there is pain, contracture), Electrotherapy, Therapeutic exercises – Muscle strengthening – ROM, Functional re-training – BADLs +IADLs (OTs), Orthotics, Home modification, Home exercise program
  • Need to improve your physical activity level. What  a PT will do is to determine your current fitness level through series of testing techniques are that are readily available. Consult with your doctor to arrange a comprehensive check-up, to determine if there are any underlying pathologies. Your PT will also work with you to determine what you to achieve with improving your physical activities. thereafter, an exercise program or a fitness routine will be developed to help reach your desired goal. This may sometimes involve other members of multi-disciplinary team.

Here are some other conditions seen by PTs – Arthritis (Osteo, Rheumatoid, Gout’s), Asthma, Back pain, Cancer (exercises, help with lymphoedema, strength training, ADLs), Cardiovascular Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, Critical care/Intensive Care, Dementia, Falls and fractures, Frozen shoulder, Incontinence, Multiple sclerosis, Osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, Plantar fasciitis, Pregnancy –related incontinence, Sport’s injuries, Stroke

We hope you have enjoyed the session today. Thank you and see you next time

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