If you have chronic or acute pain from an injury, disease, or disorder, physiotherapy may help. Whether it’s mild discomfort or debilitating pain, physical therapy can offer relief and restore movement.

What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a varied treatment program designed to reduce pain and stiffness, increase strength and mobility, and generally support physical function. The exact nature of treatment will depend on the individual. Physiotherapists work closely with each client to prescribe therapies targeted to their unique circumstances.

Physical therapy can be both preventive and rehabilitative. Some of the common treatments include joint manipulation, heat and cold application, and targeted exercises. The complete range of treatment is quite broad, however, and can include massage, wound care, occupational training or re-training, and recommendation of assistive devices to enhance functioning.

If you’re in pain or have limited mobility, a physiotherapist can help. Alone or in combination with other therapies, physiotherapy is an effective treatment for many physical ailments.

What is a physiotherapist?

physiotherapy hamiltonPhysiotherapists are certified, licensed professionals specially trained in physical therapy practices. To work in Ontario, a physiotherapist must pass a competency exam to be certified by the College of Physiotherapists. Practicing physiotherapists must maintain their certification and good standing with the College through standards of practice and professional development.

Physiotherapy is usually a post-graduate specialty. Practitioners complete a bachelor’s degree in science before studying physiotherapy. In some cases, though, physiotherapy is an undergraduate specialty.

In order to be certified and registered by the College, a physiotherapist must complete an accredited training program.

What conditions can physiotherapy treat?

Physiotherapy treats a wide range of conditions, both acute and chronic.

Some of the most common ailments treated include:

Physical therapy can also improve conditions not directly related to movement, such as:

  • asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses
  • neurological conditions (Parkinson’s disease, dementia)
  • cardiovascular conditions (high blood pressure, heart attack & stroke recovery)

Because physiotherapy includes an array of treatments and is specifically tailored to the individual client, it can be used to treat just about anything. Find out more with a physiotherapy assessment.

What are the benefits of physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy offers many benefits, perhaps most importantly pain relief. Even mild discomfort can affect your ability to move and, consequently, your quality of life. Physical therapy works to restore normal or close to normal activity by addressing both the pain and its underlying cause.

Other major benefits of physiotherapy include:

  • Greater flexibility. An often overlooked element of health and physical fitness, flexibility is the range of motion allowed by muscles and joints. It is an essential element of mobility and affects just about everything we do, from getting out of bed to doing the dishes to tying our shoes. Physiotherapy can restore flexibility lost through injury, disease, or aging.
  • Increased strength. Whether you need to lift one pound or one hundred pounds, you require strength. Physiotherapy can help strengthen muscles weakened by injury or disease, or prepare muscles for certain sports, activities, or occupational conditions. Strong muscles mean better performance and less chance of injury, pain, or stiffness.
  • Better balance. Proper balance is essential to safe movement, whether it’s playing a sport or simply walking down the street. Even just standing up requires balance. If injury, disease, or aging has affected your balance, physiotherapy can help restore and improve it, making it easier and safer to perform your daily activities.
  • Improved coordination. Physical therapy can improve proprioception, or the ability to sense the position and movement of muscles and joints. This is an essential part of coordination, which in turn is an essential part of many physical activities. Improving your coordination will reduce your risk of injury and also help enhance your performance.
  • Enhanced heart and lung function. Circulation and breathing are essential parts of physical activity, even though people tend to focus on the muscles and joints. Impaired heart function or diminished lung capacity will limit your speed, power, and endurance. Physiotherapy includes a range of techniques targeting the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to make physical activity safer and easier.

Every physiotherapy program is targeted specifically to the client’s goals, so sure to discuss your goals for treatment at your physiotherapy assessment.

Is physiotherapy covered by insurance?

Physiotherapy treatments are covered by most extended health care plans.

OHIP covers physiotherapy for children (under 19) and seniors (over 65), or for those who meet certain eligibility requirements and attend certified OHIP clinics.

Physiotherapy required as the result of a motor vehicle accident (MVA) or workplace injury (WSIB/WCB) is also covered through insurance or other programs.

Main Street Health will directly bill the insurance company for your convenience whenever possible. Book your physiotherapy assessment to discuss your specific situation and find out how we can help!

Other Common Questions

Does physiotherapy hurt?

Some physiotherapy treatments may cause pain or discomfort as they are performed. For example, exercises to increase range of motion after knee or hip replacement can hurt as the muscles heal after surgery. The application of heat or cold may also be part of physical therapy treatments and can create an unpleasant sensation.

Remember, though, that one of the main goals of physiotherapy is pain relief. Any discomfort from physiotherapy should be temporary and short-lived. Be sure to communicate with your physiotherapist about the intensity, frequency, and duration of any pain you feel.

How long does physiotherapy last?

The duration of physiotherapy treatment varies from client to client. The number of sessions depends on your specific condition and goals. Your physiotherapist will create a detailed plan based on your initial assessment.

Individual appointments generally last between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on the specific treatment being applied.

Do I need a prescription for physiotherapy?

No. You do not need a prescription for physiotherapy. Your doctor may recommend physiotherapy, but you can also seek treatment without a referral. In some cases, a prescription or referral may be required for insurance coverage. Check the details of your policy.

When will I start to feel better / regain motion?

Physiotherapy is designed to stimulate your body’s own healing and increase its natural capacity. It may take some time to see or feel results, or you may notice them right away. It will depend on the nature of your injury or condition, your overall health, and several other factors. Your physiotherapist can offer advice for making the most of your treatment.

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