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Physio NHS Inform

Physiotherapy

Introduction

Physiotherapy, often referred to as physio, is a profession that uses physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, to promote healing and wellbeing. Physiotherapy treatments are often used to help restore a person’s range of movement following injury or illness.

Physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who have trained specifically in physiotherapy. They work in a number of different places including:

  • hospitals,
  • GP surgeries,
  • private practices,
  • workplaces, and
  • the community.

When physiotherapy is used

Physiotherapists frequently treat problems that affect the:

  • muscles,
  • joints, and
  • heart, blood circulation and lungs.

Physiotherapists also help people with mental health conditions, neurological conditions (those affecting the brain and nervous system) and chronic (long-term) health conditions.

Physiotherapy techniques

By using a number of different approaches and techniques, a physiotherapist can help a person to overcome injury or short-term health problems, or manage long-term disability.

The techniques and approaches that physiotherapists use are wide-ranging and include:

  • massage and manipulation – using the hands to relieve muscle pain and stiffness and encourage blood flow to an injured part of the body to help recovery,
  • the use of heat, cold, electric current, light and water,
  • remedial exercise – exercise that takes into account a person’s current level of health and any specific requirements they may have, and
  • providing support – to help patients manage chronic conditions.

Physiotherapy techniques and approaches can improve a person’s ability to use parts of their body that are affected by a health condition or injury.

For example, arthritis is a chronic condition that causes painful, stiff joints and is often associated with ageing. Physiotherapists can help to keep the joints mobile and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

See how it works for more information about the different techniques that are used by physiotherapists.

Who can physiotherapists help?

Physiotherapy can help people of all ages and social backgrounds. In particular, physiotherapy can help rehabilitate (restore to health) people who have:

  • had a stroke – when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off,
  • heart problems and breathing difficulties,
  • a sports injury, and
  • recently had surgery that affects their movement and/or mobility.

Almost all people who have an injury or a physical disability can benefit from having physiotherapy, including children and the elderly.

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