Back Pain

Updated 26 January 2017

What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is concerned with assessing, treating and preventing human movement disorders and restoring normal function.

Physiotherapy is concerned with:

  • Assessing, treating and preventing human movement disorders,
  • restoring normal function or minimising dysfunction and pain in adults and children with physical impairment, to enable them to achieve the highest possible level of independence in their lives;
  • preventing recurring injuries and disability in the workplace, at home, or during recreational activities and promoting community health for all age groups.

Physiotherapists use:

  • Skilled evaluation,
  • skilled hands on therapy such as mobilisation, manipulation, massage an accupressure;
  • individually designed exercise programmes,
  • relaxation techniques,
  • sophisticated equipment,
  • hydrotherapy
  • and biofeedback,
  • specialised electrotherapy equipment,
  • heat, ice and traction to releive pain and assist healing and recovery,
  • suitable walking aids,
  • splints and appliances,
  • and patient education.

Where can a physiotherapist work?

One of the wonderful aspects of physiotherapy is the wide choice of work situations which can be enjoyed. The therapist may choose to see patients in a particular age range - teaching a young mother in preperation for the birth of her child; handling tiny babies with lung infections or cerebral plasy, coaxing older children (and adults) to move again after surgery, injury or burns.

The therapist will learn to analyse and treat the aches and pains of approaching middle age, and in old aged homes may help the elderly to retain and regain their independence.

Physiotherapists may work in:

  • Public and private hospitals
  • Private practice
  • Community health centres
  • Day care centres and nursing homes
  • Sports centres and with sporting teams
  • Schools and pre-schools
  • Research areas
  • Occupational health units
  • Training institutions
  • Health policy development units
  • Special centres for people with physical disabilities

(Source: The South African Society of Physiotherapy)


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