Physiotherapy is a field of contemporary clinical medicine that applies various forms of energy for therapy, rehabilitation and prophylaxis. It stems from the natural therapy originally that has been originated in historical methods that are scientifically proven and significantly developed in modern times. Physiotherapy could be an autonomous therapeutic method or can complement other therapies e.g. pharmacotherapy and surgery or may constitute a basis for rehabilitation and prophylaxis. In other words, physiotherapy constitutes therapy by nonspecific stimuli targeting recovery of state of equilibrium.
The methods applied in physiotherapy belong to so called natural healing/treatment methods due to reasons: they act on natural and physiological mechanisms of a homeostasis and they constitute natural element/component of an environment. There are different name of physiotherapy in literature, like physiatry, physicotherapy, physical medicine, or physical therapy. All these terms come from Greek language where φύσις = phusis means nature and θεραπεία = therapeīa means cure or healing.
Physiotherapy should be a constant element of fibromyalgia treatment plan. One of main tasks of physiotherapy is protection from muscles weakness and/or atrophy by applying its various types. The muscles are typically affected in fibromyalgia due to low physical activity and reluctance for physical exercise as a result of constant pain and tiredness. It is extremely important to tailor physiotherapy programme and methods for each fibromyalgia patient individually. The some type of physiotherapy could give relief to one patient and exacerbation to the other.
Among various types of physiotherapy one should list mostly following:
- KINESIOTHERAPY (therapy by movement – it is the core element of physiotherapy. Motion (physical activity) has eminent impact on the whole body and constitutes basis for other forms of physiotherapy and rehabilitation).
- PHYSICAL THERAPY (electrotherapy, magnetic field therapy, phototherapy, therapeutic ultrasound)
- THERMOTHERAPY COLD and/or WARM (should be matched individually)
- SPA TREATMENT and CLIMATE THERAPY i.a. with use of peat baths and natural healing waters (so called peloid therapy) and climate therapy, is based on use of the natural environment. Air-baths, sun-baths, sea-baths, inhalation of sea aerosols belong to that.
The optimal model of fibromyalgia treatment seems to be a combination of light physical exercises and whole body cryotherapy (WBC), which shows distinct pain reducing effect. However, this optimal model has to be set up together with an active use of fibromyalgia patients.
Kinesiotherapy or Kinesitherapy or kinesiatrics, from Greek κίνησις = kinēsis means movement and θεραπεία = therapeīa means cure or healing, is the therapeutic treatment of disease by passive and active muscular movements (as by massage) and of exercise. It is the core element of physiotherapy. Movement, as a therapeutic mean, has an impact on all body's organs and tissues as natural therapeutic stimuli.
The role of therapeutic movement and physical exercises was appreciated in ancient China, Egypt, Greece and India. Hypocrites, except of the famous "primum non nocere" said also that the medical knowledge rests on two pillars that are physical exercise and dietetics.
Kinesiotherapy (treatment by movement) is also described as rehabilitation by movement, medical training, therapeutic exercise, and as physiotherapy, recently.
The kinesiotherapy techniques comprise of passive forms of movement – passive kinesiotherapy and active forms of motion – active kinesiotherapy. The choice of an appropriate technique is based on functional status of a patient, location of disease process, illness or injury. The therapeutic exercises could be divided depending on their range of impact into limited range of movement – local kinesiotherapy, e.g. increase in knee joint movement and/or general kinesiotherapy – a general motion having impact on the patient general physical performance, improving circulatory system, respiratory system and also engaging musculoskeletal and nerve (kinetic) system.
Amoung various methods of physical therapy we can list the most common:
- Hydrotherapy also called water cure, is a part of naturopathy that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. The term encompasses a broad range of approaches and therapeutic methods that take advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.
- Thermotherapy it a treatment that uses termal energy. The energy can be delivered to the body (warm treatment) as well as it can be received (cold treatment). The particular type of cold treatment is cryotherapy. Cryotherapy is widely used to relieve muscle pain, sprains and swelling either via soft tissue damage or postoperative swelling. It can be a range of treatments from the very low technology application of ice packs or immersion in ice baths (generally known as cold therapy) to the use of cold chambers (whole body or partial body cryotherapy) and or face masks or body cuffs with controlled temperature, sometimes called hilotherm.
- Therapeutic Ultrasoud is a modality that has been used by physiotherapists since the 1940s. Ultrasound is a method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin's surface using very high frequency sound waves, between 800,000 Hz and 2,000,000 Hz, which cannot be heard by humans. It is applied using the head of an ultrasound probe that is placed in direct contact with your skin via a transmission coupling gel.
- Electrotherapy is the use of electrical energy as a medical treatment. In medicine, the term electrotherapy can apply to a variety of treatments, including the use of electrical devices such as deep brain stimulators for neurological disease. The term has also been applied specifically to the use of electric current to speed wound healing. Additionally, the term "electrotherapy" or "electromagnetic therapy" has also been applied to a range of alternative medical devices and treatments.
- Magnetic Field Therapy uses different kinds of magnets on the body to help boost your overall health. It may also help treat certain conditions. There are several types, including: Static magnetic field therapy – in this, magnet touches skin somehow. You might wear a magnetic bracelet or other magnetized jewelry. It could be a bandage with a magnet in it, or you may wear a magnet as a shoe insole. You could also sleep on a special mattress pad with a magnet in it. Electrically charged magnetic therapy (electromagnetic therapy): The magnets you use here have an electric charge. Treatment with electromagnetic therapy usually comes through an electric pulse.
Among various form of electrotherapy it is worth to mention TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) with low voltage current. This therapeutic method is based on gate control theory. TENS is done with a small, battery-powered machine about the size of a pocket radio. Usually, two electrodes are conected (wires that conduct electrical current) from the machine to skin. The electrodes are often placed on the area of pain or at a pressure point, creating a circuit of electrical impulses that travels along nerve fibers. When the current is delivered, some people experience less pain. This may be because the electricity from the electrodes stimulates the nerves in an affected area and sends signals to the brain that block or "scramble" normal pain signals. Another theory is that the electrical stimulation of the nerves may help the body to produce natural painkillers called endorphins, which may block the perception of pain.