I have been having a leg ache for quite some time now and an MRI scan is not showing any cause for alarm. Should I consider seeing a physiotherapist?
Yes, that can be an option. First, we must establish the cause of the pain – whether on the leg, knee or calf. If the pain is originating from an area that does not show muscle, bone or ligament problems, then we can do tests to see if it’s a clot so that we don’t treat things that should be treated by a doctor.
My baby is two and she has not started crawling or walking. I know babies develop differently, but I am worried.
You need to take them to a physiotherapist and start development training. When children have developmental delays, a mother tends to feel the need to carry the baby all the time, which is wrong. One needs to give them developmental training like laying them down on their stomach so that they can start crawling and lift their heads up so that it can stimulate the action. From six months on, a child should be making an effort to sit, and if not, you need to see a physiotherapist soon.
What else do physiotherapists do besides massages?
Well, physiotherapists do a lot more than massages and treatments for bone aches. Especially now during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are assisting a lot in the ICU where we do suctioning, manage nerve conditions, head injuries and patients who are in need of cardiac rehabilitation. Athletes come to us due to the many injuries they get, and we also manage patients who have experienced burns.
We are also in schools where we help in the developmental growth of children, people with Parkinson’s disease, among so much more.
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What are some things I can do from home as I recover from a stroke?
Medically speaking, everyone is supposed to exercise at least a total of 150 minutes per week. But there are exercises that are specific to certain conditions, for example, if someone experienced a stroke and it is affecting one side of the body. Such exercises need instructions so that one does not over-exercise or under-exercise, resulting in slow progress to healing. So I would advise that you see a physiotherapist who will tailor a programme for you . Also, physiotherapy is key to your recovery. Most times, such patients think they are okay but that is the problem. What you suffered from will not go away by itself. Yes, the blood pressure may be settled but still there will be weakness and paralysis present that need rehabilitation.
I have had arthritis for three years now, and I suffer so many aches and pains. Would physiotherapy help?
The two enemies of arthritis are weakness and stiffness. We will look at which joint is affected, especially if it’s the weight-bearing joint, and find ways to offload the weight. Some people tend to overwrap the suffering area because of pain but this only results in weak joints over time, and then increases your chances of injury from falls. A big percentage of the population will have arthritis in one part of their body in their lifetime and surgery is always the last option.
I usually go to the gym, but lately I have been experiencing unending pain on my shoulder. Should I stop?
The pain should be evaluated first. It could be a micro-trauma that occurred in the gym from overusing the wrong technique. If you can establish what caused the pain, like you used heavier weights than normal, you can back off a bit from the exercise and let it heal.
I have already gone for 10 of 13 recommended physiotherapy sessions after a road accident. Should I continue even though I feel okay?
You need to have a conversation with your physiotherapist first because usually when you start to feel okay, we should start placing you on a home programme where you can do exercises from home. Just don’t stop exercises because you feel okay so that you don’t lose the progress you have made so far.
My back pain does not seem to go away, what should I do?
Most patients have no idea what caused the pain and as a result end up staying on drugs for long time without knowing that drugs will not help them. For such, you will find that the medicine is taking the pain away but the cause of pain has not been treated. It becomes necessary for one to start accessing physiotherapy services so that the cause can be rehabilitated. A physiotherapist will establish if there is a disc that is touching your spine and causing the discomfort, and prepare you on exercises that you will need to do to offload that pain.
Are there rehab physiotherapy centres in the country?
Yes, we have a few and people don’t need to go outside the country. There is Restore Physiotherapy in Karen and Spinal Cord and Injury Hospital, among others. Public hospitals and many other private hospitals will have physiotherapists and physiotherapy services for their clients.
By Dr Catherine Wambua as told to Saada Hassan. Dr Wambua is a physiotherapist at Restore Physiotherapy Centre.