Treating the cause of persistent aches and pains... not the symptoms
Pains and strains come to us all from time to time. They tend to be an occupational hazard for those of us who play sport regularly, or put in the hours at the gym. But it’s not only very active people who come down with niggling injuries and aggravations. They have an annoying habit of visiting us more regularly as we grow older... and it gets progressively harder to persuade them to leave!
The important thing is to recognise when you’ve got a nagging pain and take some time out to get to the source of the problem. Of course, most people’s first reaction is to reach for the painkillers – but a first reaction is exactly what this should be... and nothing more. Backaches, shoulder strains, tense headaches... it’s all too easy to pop a paracetamol and think you’ve addressed the issue when in fact you’ve just treated the symptoms. Which means that old familiar pain is likely to come back for a return visit before too long.
If you’re not certain what the cause of your pain may be, your GP should always be your first port of call. But sometimes, we find ourselves stoically putting up with long-standing aches and pains about which the only mystery is how to get rid of them.
In cases like these, it’s a good idea to look at all your options – including seeking the advice and services of a physiotherapist.
Getting to the root of the matter with physiotherapy
Physiotherapists are qualified healthcare professionals who specialise in the assessment and treatment of back, neck, muscle and joint pain.
Using a holistic approach, they consider the wellbeing of the body as a whole and can even help with conditions such as poor circulation and problems linked to the respiratory system.
Through a range of techniques including manual therapy, exercise advice, and self-management strategies, physiotherapists can help patients of all ages to effectively manage or resolve pain and restore normal movement and function. Any recommended exercises will take into account your general health and any other considerations linked to your personal circumstances and medical history.
How to access your treatment
Physiotherapy is available through the NHS –often without needing to see your GP first. . Your GP can advise about any self-referral schemes which operate in your area. It’s important to get a clear idea of what you can and can’t access under the NHS.
You can also choose to see a physiotherapist privately, in which case you’ll need to pay for your treatment unless it can be funded by a charity or voluntary group. Alternatively, you might want to think about taking out an insurance plan to provide some cover for physiotherapy treatment.
If you do decide to go private, it’s always worth checking that your chosen physio is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) – you can check their registration status by visiting the HCPC website at http://www.hcpc-uk.org/ . You also need to make sure you’re aware of the fees which will be charged and that they are within your budget.
Could it hurt to try?
Pain UK – an alliance of charities supporting people in pain – has estimated that 14 million people in the UK live with pain. Of course, not all the causes of chronic pain are readily treatable, or result from conditions which would respond to physiotherapy. But in many cases, it must surely be worth exploring whether this science-based profession could bring lasting relief to the torment persistent aches and pains can bring.
It has to be better than just reaching for the painkillers.