'Physiotherapy': the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage and exercise.
The Oxford English Dictionary
SOME COMMON TERMS A PHYSIOTHERAPIST WILL USE
Our 'core' muscles refer to the deep abdominal, lower back and pelvic muscles. These muscles hold us up and in. In other words, these muscles support and stabilise the mid-section of our body, thus enabling the rest of our frame to move without putting any strain on our backs.
This refers to the way we 'carry' ourselves. It is often an indicator of the state of our core muscles. During your first visit to a physiotherapist, close attention will be paid to your posture in order to establish whether it could be aggravating any of your symptoms.
Very few people demonstrate a good 'textbook' posture. 'Bad' posture generally implies that the muscles are not sufficiently supporting and protecting the joints, or 'holding' them in the correct position. This means that over time, the joints will be more vulnerable to injury by shocks, sprains and strains. Furthermore, recovery from injuries will take longer because the stresses will fall directly on the damaged/overstrained area.
This is when you feel pain somewhere different to the actual site of your injury.
This refers to pain felt in the leg due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve, a major nerve running from the spine to the leg. The pain is usually felt in the buttock, thigh and calf, but can go all the way down to the big toe. There are many causes of sciatica.
These are the body's 'shock absorbers' that sit between each of the spinal vertebrae (the bones in your back). They allow your spine to be flexible. Disc problems are a common cause of back pain, which in turn, is a frequent focus of treatment for physiotherapists.
These are the small joints between the vertebrae that allow the spinal column (backbone) to move. Sometimes these joints can be the cause of back pain.
These are the strong cord-like structures that attach muscles to bone, thus allowing movement to occur.
These are tough, fibrous bands that anchor the bones on either side of a joint, holding the joint together. Ligaments restrict movement, therefore providing stability to the joint.
Nerves are a massive collection of highly specialised cells that are connected in an intricate and complex manner. They form cable-like structures that are threaded together like wires throughout our entire body. Our entire nervous system can be likened to an upside down tree, where the roots and trunk are the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system), and the branches form the peripheral nerves that connect the rest of our body to the central nervous system.
This is the speciality of physiotherapy practice that encompasses all the 'hands-on' manual techniques and exercise prescription for the prevention and treatment of disorders of the nerves, muscles, soft tissue structures, bones and joints that comprise the human body. This is probably the largest area of physiotherapy in terms of practitioner and patient numbers and is the area of speciality most common to physiotherapy around the world. It is the culmination of detailed anatomic, physiologic and pathologic knowledge.
The body continuously renews itself. Osteophytes are overgrowths of new bone that form at the edges of osteoarthritic joints and alter their shape.
This is the clinical name given to the backbone. It consists of a number of vertebrae stacked one on top the other, separated by discs and linked together by ligaments and muscles.
The spinal cord runs down the spinal canal passing through each of the spinal vertebrae (the bones of the back). It contains the nerves that connect the brain to all the other parts of the body. Together the spinal cord and the brain form the central nervous system.
These are normal changes in the spine that occur as we grow older and can frequently be seen on X-ray.
This stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS machine is a small battery-driven device. Small dry pads are placed on the skin over the painful area and a low voltage stimulation produces a mild tingling sensation. This serves to relieve pain by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain.
This is a type of electrotherapy that uses two stimulating currents delivered via wet pads which are placed directly on the skin. Electrical interference where the two currents cross can help to relieve pain, reduce swelling, increase blood flow and enhance healing.
Therapeutic ultrasound uses sound vibratory energy waveforms to speed up tissue healing, reduce inflammation and enhance the quality of tissue repair.