Is physio an art or a science?

If over 13 years practising as a physio has taught me anything, it’s what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another.  Which has led me to question… is physio an art or a science? I’d love it if aches, pains, and injuries were black and white, so there was a specific, set thing you could give to a patient to resolve their symptoms.  And, if it solved them straight away, well, that would be brilliant, wouldn’t it?!  It would make my job a whole lot easier, but possibly a whole lot less interesting too!

I think it’s really important to not just think about the pain you’ve come in to see me with, but your lifestyle, and what you are looking for from the appointment so that you come away feeling the best you can.

For example, a few weeks ago, I had 2 people who came in to see me with very similar injuries.  On assessment, my diagnosis was that they both had rotator cuff injuries (pain in the tendons of the stability muscles of their shoulder).  Both patients were females, of a similar age.  

However, what they were looking for was very different.  One was desperate to get back to her swimming training, was worried about hands-on treatment making things worse, was really keen to spend the appointment completing exercises, and, despite having a busy life, wanted a programme she could complete at home daily.

The other came in and told me about how she had no time for herself as she was working full time, and spent her evenings rushing her children to clubs and trying to maintain her household.  Her shoulder was making chores at home difficult, and was really painful to lie on at night.

So, with the first patient, I spent the session completing a 1-1 Pilates session, focusing on shoulder stability and strengthening exercises.  I filmed her on her phone doing some of the exercises, so that she had a daily routine she could watch back and complete at home.

With the second, I completed some soft tissue work, releasing tension from the muscles around her sore shoulder.  I gave her just 1 exercise, which would take her just over 3 minutes to complete each day, and emailed her the link to one of my 5 minute relaxation sessions, to try if she felt she had the time for it (but no pressure).

I’ve seen both patients at a couple of follow up appointments since to continue to adapt and progress their tailored treatment programmes.  And, I’m really happy to share with you that both are much improved, hooray!  So, what does this tell us?  Is physio an art or a science?!

If you’re looking to reduce pain from an injury, ache, or niggle, I’d love to help!  You can book in to see me here.

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