When you break a bone or twist a joint then you will likely get a lot of pain at the source of the problem – on the bone or joint itself. This then leaves you focussing on that area and thinking only of that part of your body as what's damaged.
However this can be a big mistake and if you understand the body fully then you'll know that a broken ankle can cause a range of different problems throughout your body, as can a broken wrist of anything else. For instance if you have a broken knee then you have to realise that not only is the joint damaged, but also that your muscle may well waste as a result of your not using your leg. At the same time you will find that some muscles in the leg become stronger than others and this can cause an imbalance – causing further knee problems, or even hurting your back. Then there's the fact that having a bad knee can cause you to walk incorrectly and to develop bad habits, leaving you with an awkward walk that could damage your feet, your legs or more – or just make you more likely to fall and hurt yourself again.
This is why it's important to focus on not only healing the injury itself, but also on making sure the whole body is operating fully and as well as possible. This is where physiotherapy comes into play – a series of exercises and manipulations designed to help you regain full control of the area and to prevent any other problems that could occur during the healing process.
Thus the purposes of physiotherapy are:
• To help manipulate the joint, bones, muscle, tendon etc to prevent it from becoming stiff and to encourage healing.
• To strengthen the supporting muscles and prevent imbalances.
• To check for potential problems before they develop.
• To alleviate pain.
• To improve balance and coordination and avoid bad habits so as to prevent future difficulties and accidents.
Visits to physiotherapist then will involve being manipulated and it will be much like a massage focussing on the problem area. However in order to strengthen muscle, coordination and flexibility, these exercises and manipulations will need to be practised regularly – and that's why you will be set home exercises to perform yourself.
You will be shown the exercises and walked through them with your physiotherapist and will usually be given a piece of paper to take home with the instructions on it. These will then be repeated once or a few times a day, and they will mostly consist of gently flexing or moving your joints – either on their own or by lightly pulling/pushing them with your hand. They might also recommend other more general exercise such as swimming which is low impact.
If you perform these home exercises regularly exactly as instructed, then you should find that you quickly improve and you recover faster than you would otherwise have.