The human musculoskeletal system is an organ system that allows humans the ability to move using their muscular and skeletal systems. This system provides support, stability, shape, and movement to the body and is the body’s framework. It is made up of bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, cartilage, and any other structure that helps in movement or stability.
At times, due to stress or disease, this system may fail to provide the body with maximum stability or mobility. There is a very wide range of musculoskeletal ailments that affect the general population. According to a study conducted in 2017, 1.3 billion people are affected by musculoskeletal conditions, of which 131,000 have died due to conditions that are attributed to musculoskeletal disorders.
The burden due to musculoskeletal conditions, unfortunately, has not been reduced since the 1990s and their prevalence is huge. So, are there modern-day superheroes who can save us from biomechanical suffering? Well, I call them PTerodactyls!
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy utilizes the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics as background theory in the assessment and management of patients. Musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy aims to give you back your independence by helping you restore your movement and function, it can also reduce the risk of further injury and prevent unnecessary wear and tear on joints and ligaments that are already damaged. MSK physiotherapy focuses on the biomechanical and structural rehabilitation of the client. Not only can physios who specialize in MSK alleviate non-specific pain, but they can also prevent surgeries, which is a major economic life-saver for thousands of people.
Here are some of the many qualities an MSK physio must have –
- Knowledgeable: To find solutions to what is troubling the patient, one needs to update their knowledge depth. The knowledge sources are plenty: scholarly journals, colleagues, or a tattered text. The clinical science behind physiotherapy gets better and more complicated. It is advisable to stay a lifelong learner.
- Sharpness: A physical therapist needs to observe and assess the situation of the patient to treat them properly. So, the observational skills have to be refined so that the problems of the patients are identified easily.
- Patience: It is very important to act patiently with the people that approach us. Sometimes, due to continuous exposure to patients with the same type of problems, we may consider their pain as “nothing”. Some patients deal with a lot of pain before getting their problems diagnosed.
- Comprehensible: As they deal with many patients, they will eventually know their suffering by diagnosing it. The main challenge is to explain to the patient the problem and how they can treat it. They should explain everything correctly but not scare them. It should be like scolding them or lecturing.
- Positivity: Being able to reject negative thoughts. The focus can be shifted to what is working and the improvements so far. If we believe in what we say, the patients will believe the therapy too.
- Being Realistic: A top physiotherapist knows how to highlight positive thoughts but they should be very realistic when it comes to goal setting. Extreme positivity can lead to unrealistic thoughts.
When literally millions of people suffer from MSK ailments, it is quite obvious that physios play a huge role in society as they have the power and knowledge to treat and prevent pain. Due to the increasing prevalence of these ailments, a day in the life of an MSK physio is not very forgiving, schedule-wise of course. Want to know what an MSK Physio does in a day? If so, then let’s get right to it.
Physiotherapist 1 – “My day is often harsh and very challenging, mainly due to the number of patients I see in a day. My shift is a total of 9 hours, including a lunch break of an hour. My day starts at 8 in the morning when I go to the private orthopedic wards. Here, I typically see around 7 or 8 patients. I typically treat arthroplasty cases every alternative day, yes, that’s how frequently I see them. I also look after post-operative ACL, PCL, and meniscal repairs as well. In the wards, the case is to be treated with utmost caution because they have just undergone surgery. I usually finish my rounds in the private wards at around 11:00 pm and then head off to the general wards. I tend to finish my ward duty at around 12:45 every day and then head out to lunch. After an hour of lunch, I enter the outpatient department and treat around 3 or 4 patients. I usually see stiff knee cases, neck pain, and back-related ailments. I finish my shift at 5:00 pm and head home, but my day doesn’t end there. I usually have a couple of home visits under my belt and typically finish them by 7:00 pm.
The biggest challenge I face in this field is the overwhelming amount of patients that come over to the hospital. Not only do I have to manage 2 or sometimes 3 patients at once but I also have to manage my time and make sure that each patient gets quality treatment. I also find it difficult to make heft or bulky patients walk because of my small stature, but I am never alone. Another very important obstacle I face is the extremely unrealistic expectations of patients. Patient education in itself is a huge hurdle and at times I have to make a conscious effort to keep a sound mind.
Having said that, I am extremely content with my job as I have received countless people from their pain. To be able to help people with their pain and have to ability to understand the body more than others is nothing short of a privilege and I am very happy to be an MSK Physiotherapist.”
Physiotherapist 2 – “My shift starts at 9 in the morning and ends at 6 in the evening. At the moment, my duty is in the outpatient department. Typically I see cases of post-operative joint stiffness and tendinopathies. I tend to use electrotherapy alongside exercise therapy to treat my patients as I believe that it works. I try to schedule appointments in such a way that the timings of 2 patients don’t clash. I usually spend at least an hour with my patients and try to give them my best.
The biggest hurdle I face is the overwhelming lack of patient adherence to their home exercise program. In cases such as stiff knees, without performing their HEP, it is nearly impossible to improve their condition. To overcome this, I try my best to educate patients about the importance of their HEP and how it is a very important factor in determining their well-being.
Having said that, I enjoy my work and am blessed to be in this field. I love how I am capable of helping people directly through my knowledge and skill.
MSK Physios are extremely important in today’s world due to continuous and drastic lifestyle changes. They help a patient come out of pain and also try their best to prevent it. With the patience of a hunting tiger and world-class knowledge, MSK physios actively bring out a change in the world.