The simple answer to this question is Yes! The advanced answer is that it may work to a certain point for certain injuries.
As you can imagine not every injury is the same nor are people the same. The same grade I ankle sprain on one person could be different for the same diagnosis on another. Their age, health history, athletic ability, their previous injury to that same area may affect: the healing rate (how fast it heals), their prognosis (how likely it is to heal) and how chronic of an issue will it become.
Physiotherapy has been proven to be effective in assessing, diagnosing, treating and managing acute and chronic conditions. It can also help decrease disability while increasing someones health and well being. Physiotherapy treatments are done by trained professionals with a background in injury and lifestyle management.
Physiotherapists can perform multiple treatment tactics to help someone heal. They may offer modalities such as ultrasound therapy, cold laser therapy, electrical stimulation, shockwave therapy and hot/cold therapy. They may also provide soft tissue release, joint mobilisation, acupuncture and corrective exercises. All these tactics can be done by a trained physiotherapist for different musculoskeletal injuries. Providing one form of therapy or multiple all have value as they are designed for different purposes on the body.
Back to the question, does physiotherapy really work? Yes, it does work. The physiotherapist is helping to promote healing using the different tactic mentioned and their expertise to find the right balance. However, certain patients may have other associated issues that won’t allow for a full recovery- this is not always due to poor treatment.
The other factor to consider with physiotherapy is the patient. The physiotherapist can only do what they can during the treatment, however the patient has to take the education and advise from the physiotherapist and be compliant. Home care exercises, stretches, hold/cold regimen, resting schedules need to be followed to ensure the best efficacy of treatment. The art of treating an injury is a partnership between the patient and the physiotherapist, so both need to come prepared to work for it to truly work.
The best parameter when thinking of how well physiotherapy works is when goals are set during treatment. The physiotherapist will help the patient identify their goals with care and keep them focused on those goals during treatment. The patient will have to bring their intention into the treatments and at home, however if goals are laid out there is a path of healing to follow.
Written By: Dr. Giuseppe Caruana DC
Ontario Physiotherapy Association https://opa.on.ca/about-physiotherapy/