I am often asked this question. Most clients would prefer to have as few physiotherapy sessions as possible and be back in action quickly.
My response usually includes the following advice:
Attend your scheduled physiotherapy sessions. Regular treatment, especially at the outset, will allow the cumulative therapeutic effects to develop more rapidly. Education, manual therapy, electrotherapy, medical acupuncture & dry needling and therapeutic exercise all help ease pain and promote tissue healing and recovery.
Take on board and apply all the education and self-management advice. A good physiotherapist will provide you with loads of tips and strategies to ensure the right environment is created, both internally and externally, to facilitate healing recovery from injury. For example, posture is essential, as is movement, not just moving regularly but moving in the right way. Diet plays a role in recovery, as does rest and sleep. Getting into the right mindset, thinking correctly and managing your emotive response to pain can have a significant impact. The advice provided will depend on the individual; careful assessment is essential.
Do your exercises. I do not believe exercises alone will fix an injury or pain issue; however, a few carefully prescribed exercises are essential as part of the physiotherapy treatment process. Exercises not only improve mobility and strength but can also if done in the right way, ease pain. After many years of trying all sorts of different approaches to therapeutic exercise, I have found simple, easy to perform exercises based on specific stabilisation (aka strength & conditioning done more accurately), functional movement principles, Pilates and Yoga to be the most effective. A home exercise programme which is accessible and easy to perform regularly will help you recover more quickly.
Be patient, go with the process, trust your physiotherapist to guide you through healing process bases on typical recovery time frames depending on your injury. Most physiotherapists will be doing everything possible; using the full range of techniques now available; however, patience and time is still an essential ingredient. If you allow yourself to feel stressed or anxious because you are not getting better as quickly as you would like, this can result in the release of stress hormones and suppress immune function, leading to a slower recovery.
There are instances when correctly prescribed medication, such as an anti-inflammatory or analgesic or neuromodulatory drug, can result in more rapid recovery, depending on the nature and stage of the injury. Your physiotherapist will guide you to a pharmacist or if necessary, arrange a consultation with your GP to arrange a prescription.
Finally, don’t delay seeking treatment from an experienced and qualified physiotherapist. The longer an injury or pain complaint has been present, the longer it tends to take to get better. Act early to recover quickly. Have the problem assessed, get the correct advice, treatment and exercises and perhaps only a few sessions will be all that is needed to get you fixed up.
By Simon Coghlan MSc, BSc Phys, DipMedAc