What is Physiotherapy | Applications, Treatments, Techniques 2020

What is Physiotherapy?

The form of treatment that helps heal the body’s movement and function when it is affected by injury, illness, or unfitness is known as physiotherapy. It does not use a lot of medicines, injections, or surgeries. It helps to heal the body through physical recovery and injury prevention.

It helps prevent weakness and injury, controls chronic and acute health conditions, manages and improves the patient’s physical performance, provides rehabilitation from the damage, and educates patients on preventing further recurrence.

Who are Physiotherapists?

Physiotherapists are healthcare professionals who help patients’ bodies to attain a maximum range of movement and physical ability at any stage of life when movement and function are frightened by aging, injury, diseases, disorders, conditions, or environmental factors.

Some physiotherapists are trained to work with children and teenagers, known as pediatric physiotherapists. They have a skillful perception of child development. They provide treatment, management, and education to enhance children’s health and well-being and maximize their participation in everyday activities.

What are the applications of Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy can help people overcome a wide range of physical health problems, including:

  • Bone and joint injuries
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Neurological conditions – Injuries to the spinal cord, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, trauma to the brain, and vestibular dysfunction
  • Childhood conditions – Cerebral Palsy and other developmental disorders
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Trigger finger and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
  • Persistent pain, perhaps after a surgery
  • Heart problems, breathing difficulties, thrombosis, muscle atrophy, and joint mobility

Physiotherapy helps treat health condition problems that affect the patients’ bones, joints, or tissues, such as neck pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain. It also helps people suffering from mental health conditions and neurological conditions (conditions that affect the brain and nervous system).

What are the types of physiotherapy treatments?

Physiotherapy types:

Orthopedic: This therapy heals the musculoskeletal system diseases, which includes repairing the muscles, bones, ligaments, joints, tendons. This therapy reduces the pain, increasing the mobilization limit, treats soft tissue damage, and rectifies skeletal damage.

Neurological: This therapy helps to treat the loss of balance and coordination, excessive weakness of the muscles, loss of function, muscle contractions, and reduction in sensation. This therapy establishes body parts mobility. It heals the body’s functional disorders, which occur due to nervous system disorders like brain injuries and Parkinson’s.

Pediatric: This therapy improves the critical injuries observed in children at the time of birth, which involves several genetic defects or delays in physical growth. Several exercises are performed to strengthen the body’s affected part and enhance the body parts’ movement.

Geriatric: In this type of physiotherapy, age-related matters are treated, such as osteoporosis and arthritis. In these, specific body movements are restricted to avoid the pain, but, on the other hand, patients are given aids and exercises to improve the body’s overall mobility.

Vestibular rehabilitation: This therapy helps bring back the body’s balance, caused by a problem in the inner ear that destroys the balance and gives vertigo and chronic sensation dizziness.

Cardiopulmonary: This therapy helps prevent, rehabilitation, and compensate people suffering from injuries affecting the heart, chest, and lungs, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiac arrest. This therapy focuses on telling or educating patients about exercises and techniques to improve the quality of life. This treatment includes:

  • Circulation exercises
  • Tactics to help you manage shortness of breath
  • Positioning for optimal lung expansion
  • Pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation
  • Proper breathing techniques

Physiotherapy for women: This type of therapy addresses the female reproductive system’s problems, childbirth, fetal and postnatal care, and infertility issues. This therapy helps women to:

  • Get rid of the lower back, pelvic, and hip pain during and after pregnancy
  • Stimulate pelvic floor
  • Diminish lymphatic swelling
  • Help control urinary incontinence

Physiotherapy Techniques

Physiotherapists use a wide range of strategies; some of them are mentioned below.


Moving the soft tissues and the joints for better circulation, excluding excess fluids from the body, and loosening tight muscles and spasms using hands, is known as a massage. It is used to:

  • Improve the blood circulation of various parts of the body
  • Help flush fluid from body parts more efficiently
  • Promote muscle relaxation and movement of different parts of the body
  • Lower down blood pressure
  • Relieve pain and help you relax

Conditions such as neck problems, headaches, and stress are usually treated using the massage technique.


Exercises, such as cycling or swimming, are recommended for the people recovering from a disease or injury that alters their mobility.

Exercises help to strengthen body movement and improves the range of motion. Exercises can be passive or active. Passive exercise requires you to relax while your physiotherapist applies stress to your body. For instance, hamstring stretch is a passive exercise in which your physiotherapist lifts your leg to stretch the hamstring muscle on your thigh’s back. Active exercises are practiced under your potentials, such as hip-strengthening, lift weighting, and jogging.

Energy-based therapies

Energy-based therapy, also known as electrotherapy, uses different energy types, such as electric currents or impulses, to stimulate the nervous system. The electric impulses make your muscles contract and promote healing. This include:

Ultrasound – This therapy uses high-frequency sound waves to treat deep tissue injuries by stimulating blood circulation and cell activity. It facilitates the healing process, diminishes pain and muscle spasm. It helps to treat musculoskeletal conditions such as sprains, epicondylitis, or tendonitis.

Light or Laser therapy – In this therapy, lasers are used at a particular wavelength to improve injured tissues’ healing process. This treatment is painless. It is used to treat arthropathies such as rheumatoid arthritis, pain management, and soft tissue injury.

TENS – TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation) helps reduce pain around injured tissue. It uses low voltage electrical current to get rid of the pain. TENS is used to treat both acute as well as chronic pain, such as low back pain, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, and diabetic neuropathy.


Hydrotherapy is a water-based therapy, which utilizes the relaxing, pain-relieving benefits of warm water. It is done in a warm, shallow swimming pool or a unique hydrotherapy bath. The warm water helps to loosen and relax the muscles.

FAQ (Frequently Aksed Questions)

Are there any side effects of physiotherapy?

Yes, there are some side effects of physiotherapy. Some of the common side effects are:

Pain: Your pain may increase while you recover. Heat and cold therapy can help you get rid of such pain.
Swelling: You may get a bump as the tissues, muscles, and ligaments are stretched to strengthen them. Swelling is a common thing to occur while practicing physiotherapy.


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3 Sources

  1. American Psychological Association. Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. 2016. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx
  2. Karlsson, H. How Psychotherapy changes the Brain. Psychiatric Times. 2011.
  3. Wiswede D, et al. 2014. Tracking Functional Brain Changes in Patients with Depression under Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Using Individualized Stimuli. PLoS ONE. 2014. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0109037