5 signs you may need physiotherapy

Physiotherapy isn’t a treatment reserved for elite athletes, or even for those recovering from an injury. In fact it can be used to improve your health in many surprising ways. Paul Kennedy highlights five signs that you may need physiotherapy.

1. You’ve lost balance

Loss of balance can be as a result of issues with your inner ear. The structures inside your ear are an essential part of your body’s balance system (known as the vestibular system). Any conditions or problems that affect the inner ear can leave you feeling a range of symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and balance disturbance which can be extremely difficult to live with. A physiotherapy treatment called vestibular rehabilitation can be used to overcome these symptoms. After assessing your specific needs a physiotherapist can design a series of head, neck and eye exercises to help retrain your central nervous system to compensate for the inner ear problems. Vestibular rehabilitation can be used both as an alternative to surgery and an addition to surgery for inner ear conditions.

2. You get pain at your desk

It is quite common to feel pain when sitting at your desk all day. This could manifest in the form of backache or headache for example. Our bodies love movement and staying in one posture for too long can mean that our muscles and joints can start to strain, causing pain. Regular breaks from the desk, even if it is just to stand and stretch or move your neck, upper back and arms can be really helpful.

You should also ensure that your desk is set up correctly. Take a look at our physiotherapist’s guide to a better posture at work and talk to your HR representative or line manager about getting an individual desk assessment that will take into account your specific needs.

3. You’re in constant pain

When you suffer an injury you would expect to feel a certain amount of pain which would normally settle as the tissue heals. If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, for example, you would expect it to hurt and for you to limp for a couple of weeks, perhaps. As the ligaments heal the pain should decrease until you were back to normal. But sometimes the pain doesn’t settle as expected and becomes chronic. This is particularly common with lower back and neck pain and can be attributed to many factors.

Physiotherapists can work with you to assess the issue and provide a targeted exercise and rehabilitation programme that will ease your suffering and get you back to your best.

Treatments for pain can include pain education, massage, manipulation and exercises to help you support your damaged body part better and prevent the injury from happening again.

4. You’re not moving as easily as you used to

If you’ve noticed that you don’t feel as flexible or movement isn’t as easy as it used to be - you can’t touch toes any more, for example - then you may benefit from seeing a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists can assess the problem and provide a series of exercises to strengthen the supporting tissues and relax the muscles allowing you to slowly increase your flexibility.

5. You’ve begun to urinate uncontrollably

Urinary incontinence (the uncontrolled passing of urine) is very common, with an estimated three to six million people suffering from the condition to some degree in the UK. It is more common for women than men and becomes more likely as we get older, but that doesn’t mean we will have to live with it forever.

There are two main types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence happens when your bladder is under pressure, for instance when you cough or sneeze. Urge incontinence is when urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards. Many people suffer from a combination of both.

Pelvic floor exercises can help improve the condition, particularly for stress incontinence sufferers. Take a look at our pelvic floor exercises film or get in touch with one of our physiotherapists for individual support.

If urinary incontinence has occurred suddenly, is out of character, and particularly if you are suffering spinal or nerve leg pain you should see a doctor immediately to rule out the potential of any more serious conditions.

Last updated Monday 5 August 2019