This is quite a difficult review for me to write as I've recently come to the conclusion that years of physiotherapy (from this point for the sake of my fingers referred to as physio) has not achieved anything.
I have some loose joints. One in my pelvis, one hip, one shoulder, some in my spine and both knees so I'm the complicated person who requires more stability which is far harder to achieve than loosening anything.
Initially I saw 2 Osteopaths who didn't know what to do with me, then 2 Chiropractors who diagnosed the loose joints but made me worse with their aggressive treatments then my GP who offered me a life of painkillers and all that goes with that, thanks but no thanks. Then onto a physio.
I pay for my physio and have paid for all of it as the NHS had a lengthy waiting list and just couldn't fit me in. It's £35 a session which is crippling but thanks to my thoughtful partner I have health insurance which pays me half of this back.
The first physio had 30 years experience but frankly I found her a waste of time. She mobilised the already loose joints, didn't look at the other restricted areas, didn't understand the muscle imbalances this had caused and gave me exercises I can only describe as dangerous. After 9 months of regular appointments I was no better and she insisted I should be.
This infuriated me, I'd paid for 9 months of treatment only to be told I "should be better" and she wasn't prepared to accept I wasn't or even look for the reason why I wasn't so I cancelled all further appointments with her.
The next one advertised as a physio but I found she was just a massage therapist. To make things worse she didn't massage with any logical method to align me better or loosen tight areas and leave loose areas, she massaged everything which changed nothing. She also liked to finish the session with an exercise which involved pulling the legs away from the body. Very dangerous in people with back issues so I stopped seeing her quite quickly.
The next one was pregnant so I only got a couple of months treatment before she went on maternity leave but I can credit her with starting off my now extensive knowledge in muscle imbalances. She informed me the exercises the others had given me were doing more harm than good and to stop them (I already had) and gave me some different ones but she too didn't look very far beyond the obvious loose joints. They are very apparent when I move but they are not my only issues.
While she was away on maternity leave I got busy learning all about my problems and working towards helping myself as much as possible. I had one appointment with a male physio but he was a large man who cracked my back so much I was in agony for 2 weeks afterwards. I didn't go back.
Six months later the other physio returned to work and I rang to say I still needed help. She found me a very different person mentally and was amazed at how much I'd learnt in six months and admitted I probably knew more than her about the implications of the muscle imbalances. Not very reassuring as she's the alleged professional!
She did however book herself onto a course to catch up with me and I lent her my research books to study and then we were on the same page. However, she just didn't look at the whole picture and continued to only see the very loose areas. She did and does allegedly align me every couple of weeks which I thought was a good idea until recently.
I've told all these physios over the years the left side of my torso is very tight and my left hip doesn't feel like there's room to move about.
Last week I saw a pilates instructor who specialises in muscle imbalances more than your average pilates teacher. She took one look at me, reeled off all the imbalances I've been complaining about to the physio and getting no help with then added another to the list that is in my back so I couldn't see it but the physio should have. She then told me, after 4 years of treatment, I'm still so out of alignment she couldn't do much with me and my left hip is jammed into the socket and doesn't move properly.
After 4 years of treatment I'm no better aligned! This amazes me, all the physios claimed to have been aligning me and that my alignment was improving only it hasn't and isn't. I'm obviously devastated about this too, I've wasted years being in pain every minute of the day and thousands of pounds I couldn't afford. My life has changed beyond recognition, I can no longer do simple things like go out for the evening, go on holiday, go to weddings, stand for any length of time, sit for any length of time, walk very far, I have to avoid lots of types of exercise, have to drive an automatic car and have constant pain. And then I find physiotherapy has done nothing for me even though I've done all the exercises recommended.
So, physio is not always a good thing, if your problems are widespread and complicated often it does not help at all. Mine started with a horse riding accident and if I'd been treated correctly initially I'd be fine now, I wouldn't have had to become a virtual recluse for the first half of my 30s and I'd be doing normal activities like all my friends are.
For minor problems it works ok to have joints mobilised and take exercise advice. My brother incurs the odd injury while bodybuilding and physio usually helps to a degree.
My next appointment is a few days away and the very well informed pilates instructor is coming with me to discuss this whole alignment issue so I will update in the future. I think given my experience with physio and the amount of therapists I've seen it cannot just be an individual who isn't as informed as they should be, although many get behind on the latest research, it seems to be the method itself. Often they don't look beyond what's very obvious and they should if treating the obvious doesn't help.
I'm sure I'll receive some comments about how physio has helped people and that's fair enough, I have said it helps minor problems and I've rated it 2 stars for this reason, if I was rating for my condition I wouldn't want to give it any. I also understand some physios are up to date with research and do look at the whole picture but I've yet to find one in our area so this is not a pop at all physiotherapists, it's my experience with physio.
I was a gymnast for some fifteen years or so. Although never making it to anything higher than the county team, I trained heavily for a long time. Now, this is not a rant against gymnastics – I still love the sport and my eight year old daughter is now a gymnast – and if a child trains well under a good coach at a respectable gym club, you shouldn’t have any problems. I believe my health problems were due to gymnastics, but because I was stupid enough to train while injured and not take a sensible approach to my future health. Once I started studying for my A-levels, I was allowed to train by myself in P.E. class, so I would spend an hour or more throwing myself into back somersaults. I believe this caused a form of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), as well as some damage to my ankles, which were already weakened by a long history of sprains and strains. About eight years ago, I developed fatty lumps on the backs of my ankles, which were investigated. I had an MRI scan and thankfully, it wasn’t anything serious, but the lumps (now disappeared) were the start of my problems. By the time I went to see my local GP two years ago, my wrists and ankles were painful, stiff and weak. I had problems with mobility, as my ankles seemed to seize up from time to time and I had problems walking, especially first thing in the morning. My wrists were sore too and I found things like turning door knobs, holding the iron or turning taps very difficult. I was eventually diagnosed with tendonitis. After trying all sorts of treatments suggested by the GP – gels, creams and so on – I was offered physiotherapy on the NHS. I accepted and began a course of treatment at the local hospital. On my first visit, I was asked a lot of questions and examined, then over a period of several months, I was seen – usually by the same woman – and given exercises to do. I found everyone there very friendly
, but there were obviously constraints on what could be offered and for how long, which seemed to be due to financial considerations. Of course, this is unlikely to be the fault of the particular hospital, and is much more likely to be due to NHS cuts - but I won't go into the politics too much here! After I’d been receiving treatment for some months, I was told there was a long waiting list and I would have to stop receiving treatment, so as to allow others to use the service. I could understand this was fair, but it felt like I was being abandoned, and that I would have benefitted from further treatment. The physiotherapy did not cure my condition, but it definitely alleviated some of the pain and increased my mobility and the tasks I could complete. I can walk better now, although I still get aching and stiffness in my ankles and wrists, as well as occasional shooting pains up the back of my legs, but it is bearable. My wrists are stronger and I can now iron, write for longer periods of time and do most things around the house, although my partner usually has to scrub the dirtiest pots, wash floors and do the jobs that require more elbow grease! The exercises I was given to do during the physiotherapy sessions were useful and I still do them now, from time to time. I also find localised massage helps and use this quite often. I found the gels and creams useless and try not to take painkillers, but the exercises and massage keep the pain under control and although it will never go away completely, I feel it is much more manageable now. So overall, I would recommend physiotherapy if your GP suggests it would be beneficial. But you will be expected to do 90% of the work yourself at home, and do expect to be ‘dismissed’ when they need your space.