As physiotherapists it is our job to assess and treat musculoskeletal pain. Part of this process, is attempting to define the source of the pain in terms of movement/activity (as well as anatomical location). This is important because if we treat the symptoms without changing the movement pattern, chances are the pain will return.
We see a broad variety of patients here at Inspired Physiotherapy, here are a couple of examples:
Hairdresser with persistent shoulder and neck pain – due to the posture adopted while working. The nature of the work dictates this posture, so while we can’t change the root cause we can strengthen up the back and shoulder muscles and teach self management strategies (using a tennis ball to massage the upper back for example).
Pole dancing instructor with elbow pain – due to the repetitive loading of grip work, during a period of increased classes / teaching load. Again, the nature of the activity in this case is not the problem but the volume/load of that activity was too much to recover from, leading to an inflammatory response. Better management of the training load and treatment for the musculoskeletal symptoms saw this issue resolve.
Labourer with lower back pain – poor lifting technique performed repetitively leading to back strain and eventual herniation of the disc. Often, repetitive tasks can cause overuse injuries or lack of attention leading to poor movement patterns.
Ice cream retail worker with shoulder pain – pain was in the non-dominant side, which was used to brace on the bench when scooping ice cream. Additionally, other workers were not pulling their weight in terms of restocking duties, leading to a large lifting load each shift. Being more aware of the bracing shoulder, and asking workmates to pull their weight, has seen quick improvement.
So next time you have an ache or niggle, think about the potential ‘why’ – it goes a long way to improving the issue.
Chris Mooney – Physiotherapist