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How to Cope with the Challenges of Physiotherapy

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Physical injuries can be devastating. Depending on their extent, they can alter your quality of life and become a source of great limitation. Although modern medicine provides hope for most cases through surgeries and other options, recovery is an intense process.

Physiotherapy is an integral part of regaining strength and recovering after an injury. Through a series of guided exercises, you are likely to see gradual improvements in your condition. That said, it can be an uphill battle that may test your resolve to its limits.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate the challenges that come with physiotherapy.

Psychological Preparation

Becoming incapacitated in any way by an injury often has emotional effects. For instance, if you are an athlete you may feel anxious about the outlook of your career. You may also have feelings of resentment or anger if someone else is to blame for your condition. Such feelings are normal and valid.

On the other hand, your mental state greatly impacts the outcomes of most treatments. Stress is more likely to exacerbate than improve your health challenges. Further, negative feelings may drain you of any motivation to show up and do your best at your physiotherapy sessions.

For these reasons, it is important that you process your feelings in a healthy way. Consider seeking emotional therapy or talking your feelings through with a loved one. Emotional support could go a long way in keeping you motivated through your treatments too.

Pain Management

back pain neck shoulder

Physiotherapy requires you to flex and exercise the part of your body that is recuperating from trauma. In the initial stages, experiencing pain during and after sessions is not uncommon. In order for you to keep up, you will need to manage the pain. Some pain management possibilities include:


Analgesic medication can either be applied topically as a pain relief cream or ingested in tablet form.  One of the main concerns regarding pain medication is an addiction to opioids which are usually prescribed for extreme pain. As a patient, you reserve the right to request your primary care physician to offer you alternative painkillers. You could also opt for pain management techniques that do not involve medication.

Laser Therapy

Lasers are non-intrusive devices used in different fields of medicine for curative and management treatments. Some of the benefits of laser therapy treatment include blocking off transmission of pain and stimulating cell regeneration. As such, besides pain management, laser treatment could also greatly ease and shorten your recovery phase. Consider asking your physiotherapist about incorporating it into your sessions.

Other Supportive Therapies

With the approval of both your physiotherapist and physician, you can explore other therapies that support physiotherapy. In some therapy clinics, you may even find them recommended and provided for patients. Some of them include:

Heat Therapy

Conditions such as arthritis present with muscle stiffness which is not only painful but also makes physiotherapy difficult. Heat therapy has been found to be beneficial when offered alongside physiotherapy as it:

  • Reduces spasms in muscles;
  • Relaxes stiff tendons and ligaments;
  • Increases overall flexibility.

Heat therapy can be administered through different methods. Sauna or steam rooms provide heat through moisture. On the other hand, infrared radiation is dry and can penetrate into deeper tissues. It is, nevertheless, crucial that heat therapy is introduced at the right time. When used too early in recuperation, it can cause more harm than good.


Hydrotherapy stretch

When patients are in a pool of water, the buoyancy of it makes exercising much easier. Their weight is no longer bearing on them and they are likely to feel less pain. Hydrotherapy pools have a variety of parameters that can be adjusted to suit the needs of the patient. The temperature, pressure, and flow of the water are all used to create a desired effect of relief.

Ordinary swimming and other water exercises can equally be beneficial and enjoyable for physiotherapy patients. One of the most prominent examples is President Franklin D. Roosevelt who suffered from Polio and used swimming to exercise.


As you proceed with your physiotherapy treatments, you continuously achieve recovery milestones. Your muscle tone improves and whatever body part was injured slowly becomes strengthened. However, consistency is very important.

Inconsistency will rob you of the painstaking progress you may have made. When you abandon routine, your recovering muscles can easily go back to become stiff. Moreover, getting back to physiotherapy sessions after a break can be even more painful than if you had stayed consistent.

One of the ways you can stay consistent is by having a ‘therapy buddy’. You could pick someone going through physiotherapy too who pushes and motivates you when you are low.

Managing Expectations

There are many incredible stories of miraculous recoveries aided by physiotherapy. Effort and commitment do indeed pay off. However, it would be remiss not to point out that every injury and body is different. What may take you a year to achieve may take another patient three years.

Managing your expectations will serve you well. Comparing yourself to others can be a terrible detractor. Furthermore, recovery is simply a journey never a competition.


Patience and finding the right care go a long way in getting the most out of your physiotherapy sessions. It may take you a while but you can certainly triumph over your injury. Do not be dissuaded by the challenges, there are better things ahead.

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