6 Surprising Cases for Physical Therapists

While we usually don't see a connection between conditions such as urinary incontinence or vertigo and physical therapists, they can actually offer a solution for those problems. What's the explanation for this?
6 Surprising Cases for Physical Therapists

Last update: 06 August, 2019

Physiotherapy is very interesting if we look at it in detail. The extent of its treatments may even surprise us. In this article, we’ll talk about the most uncommon problems that physical therapists must resolve for their patients.

Usually, most incidents happen inside the emergency room. But physiotherapy, which tends to be a quiet branch of medicine, also covers problem areas that aren’t very common.

The field of action for physical therapists

The word physiotherapy comes from the Greek physis, which means ‘nature’; meanwhile, therapéia means ‘treatment’. It’s a health discipline that diagnoses, prevents and treats different ailments, injuries, fractures, and diseases, among other things. To do this, it uses a wide variety of techniques.

There are several graduate specialties such as sports physiotherapy, veterinary, pediatric and respiratory, among many others. Physiotherapy also intervenes in many pathologies from other clinical specialties. Some of them are pretty unusual diseases, such as the ones listed below:

1. Lymphedema

Lymphedema or lymphoedema is the inflammation caused by an obstruction in the lymphatic system. It can also affect the circulatory and immune systems. Symptoms usually appear in the arms and legs of the patient. Lymphedema can also appear after certain cancer treatments.

Physical therapists treat lymphedema through lymphatic drainage massages or wrapping techniques that decrease swelling.

A physical therapist massaging the leg of a patient
Image: blovver.com

2. Vertigo

Vertigo is when you feel that everything around you is moving or shifting, and it can happen even when you’re immobile. This is due to an alteration in the organs inside our ears that manage the nervous system and regulate our balance.

Physical therapists help with vertigo through therapy sessions designed for the cervical column and spine, since sometimes vertigo happens due to a lack of mobility in the spine or due to some sort of vascular compression. By using this type of therapy, they can treat the condition without prescribing any medication for the patient.

3. Urinary incontinence,

Urinary incontinence tends to be more common in women, and this may be due to several factors, such as a weak pelvic floor, pregnancy, childbirth, surgery or general deconditioning.

A physical therapist can help to strengthen the right muscles to fight incontinence. Usually, after identifying the affected muscles, they’ll use contraction or relaxation techniques, Kegel exercises or electric therapy.

A woman doing kegel exercises to strengthen her pelvic floor

4. Headaches, an unexpected problem for physical therapists

Migraines or headaches can happen chronically or intermittently. You may also experience them along with nausea or vomiting. Therefore, constant headaches can become a problem that directly impacts your daily performance.

The most common type of headache originates from a bad posture, unhealthy eating, neck injuries or muscle tension. Physical therapists have the task of figuring out which type of headache is affecting the patient in order to apply the most appropriate treatment and offer relief.

The most usual treatment consists of different massages to loosen the muscles and release tension. But besides that, the specialist must also teach the patient the correct neck and upper body posture to decrease the tension, stress or muscle tightening that may be the cause of the pain.

5. Concussion

A concussion is the immediate loss of consciousness along with a short period of amnesia. The concussion occurs as a result of an impact to the head.

Concussions are quite common in extreme sports, which is very dangerous since they can cause long-term problems such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Balance problems
  • Headaches

Physical therapists can help with all of these long-term ailments. However, we must be careful to really comply with all the recommendations they give us to ensure a full recovery and avoid suffering sequels in the future.

Physical therapist giving his patient a neck adjustment

6. Jaw pain, a not so uncommon issue for physical therapists

What we know as a simple jaw pain may be actually temporomandibular joint dysfunction. There are many issues that can result from this condition. For example, a poor posture produces lots of stress in the joint.

Physical therapists can evaluate and apply certain exercises and techniques to improve the mobility and alignment of the joint. Because of this, the pain will decrease.

Physiotherapy is of great value in the health area because it can assist with unusual conditions. At the same time, it also intervenes in the recovery process of other medical problems, which makes it an essential tool for our well being.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kaplan, S. L., Coulter, C., & Fetters, L. (2013). Physical therapy management of congenital muscular torticollis: An evidence-based clinical practice guideline: From the section on pediatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association. Pediatric Physical Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1097/PEP.0b013e3182a778d2
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The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.