Good answer Jason. Physiotherapists definately do not just treat the local area - in the case of the shoulder injury, physiotherapists will look at the local area and the pathology, stage of pathology at the local area, but also look at whether the shoulder is actually the source of pain - often it will be a referral from the neck for example. As Jason pointed out, as well at making a diagnosis regarding the presentating problem, physiotherapists will look at other causative factors such your sporting technique/posture/neuromuscular control and so forth and address these areas so prevent recurrance of injury (or from injury ocurring in the first instance).
The treatment will be reflective of the assessment findings and how the physiotherapists has prioritised those assessment findings for the individual patient and will include local areas, referral areas, caustive factors and so forth and techniques may include joint mobilisation, joint manipulation, massage, trigger point therapy, dry needling, taping and bracing, electrotherapy, neural mobilisation, posture correction, movement correction, neuromuscular control training, stretching, education, ergonomic correction and so on and so forth.
Always a big part of Physiotherapy treatment, is getting the patient actively involved in their treatment and allowing the patient to become independant. Physiotherapists want to get you better, so you don't have to keep coming back forever - we may do a check of exercises once every few months if necessary, but this is more about ensuring that you are able to look after yourself.
Physiotherapists don't just work in the sports and musculoskeletal areas, but in fact work in almost all areas of medicine - so you will see physiotherapists working on cardiac wards, on respiratory wards, with developmental issues in babies and the list goes on. This is a very important distinction because in the training for physiotherapy you look at the entire body and all the systems of the body and how these all interact. I'm a sports physiotherapist - but I use things I learnt about the rehabilitation of stroke patients, the development of infants and respiratory conditions every day.
Physiotherapists have also been very active in research and place enormous emphasis on evidence based practice.
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