Health & Fitness

Disadvantages Of Physiotherapy


In physiotherapy, trained professionals treat abnormal physical functions of your body. They provide physical relief against an injury, disability, disease, or condition. Are there any disadvantages of physiotherapy? Let’s find out!

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), a physiotherapist is a professional and licensed medical care provider who has experience in diagnosing physical abnormalities, restoring body function and mobility, regulating physical function, and supporting physical activities and proper functions of your body. You can find a physical therapist in a range of healthcare settings such as outpatient offices, private practices, hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, home health, schools, sports and fitness centers, hospices, occupational settings, research centers, and government agencies.

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What are the outcomes of physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy involves taking care of the patients in all phases of care and healing, from the initial diagnosis to the restorative and preventive phases of recovery. It can either be the only option of treatment or it may simply support other treatments. You may be referred to a physiotherapist by your doctor, but other patients may typically seek therapy themselves.

In physiotherapy, you undergo a physical exam and evaluation which also includes your health history. Certain sorts of testing and procedures are performed, like movement and flexibility, mobility of the muscle and joint, performance, and evaluation of posture. During treatment, a patient receives a clinical diagnosis, treatment, exercise, plan of care, short-term, and long-term goals. Physical therapy treatment and intervention normally depend on the therapist’s evaluation, exercise method, and diagnosis. You may also get self-management recommendations, pieces of training, or exercises that they can do at home. Better performed training or exercise at home will help you function more effectively.

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Common conditions of physiotherapy

Physical therapists can provide a wide variety of treatments for medical conditions, based on their specialty. Some basic conditions that can benefit from physiotherapy treatment include:

  • Cardiopulmonary conditions, like cystic fibrosis (CF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), rheumatoid arthritis, and post-myocardial infarction (MI
  • Hand therapy for diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger
  • Neurological malfunctions such as traumatic brain injuries, severe depression, multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, vestibular dysfunction, and musculoskeletal dysfunction like back pain, rotator cuff tears, and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
  • Pediatric conditions like cerebral palsy, irregular hands and feet movement, developmental delays, immobility, and muscular dystrophy
  • Sports-related injuries and accidents like concussions and tennis elbow
  • Women’s health and pelvic floor abnormality and dysfunction, such as lymphedema and urinary incontinence
  • Burns
  • Wound care
  • Diabetic ulcers

What are the Disadvantages of Physiotherapy?

There are some disadvantages of physiotherapy other than its several positive pros.
A physiotherapist is checking her patient.

It is generally safe when practiced under the expert eyes of a professionally trained physiotherapist. However, some minor complexities cannot be ruled out. Physiotherapy can sometimes be known to aggravate complicated situations like:

  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue (can be severe in some cases)
  • Burns and rashes
  • Back pain
  • Increased pain
  • Swelling
  • Excessive sweating
  • Injury
  • Muscle soreness
  • Muscle pain/tension
  • Increased heart rate

Even though physical therapy has several positive pros, there are a few disadvantages of physiotherapy. Normally, it is done in case of minor distress that lasts for a long period. When the goal of therapy is to enhance the movements in the body, then other treatment approaches may be suggested.

For example, patients with spinal cord injuries should consult a physiotherapist to accomplish the best results. This injury may end up as unchanging damage if left untreated for a long time.

1. Pain and discomfort

One of the significant disadvantages of physiotherapy treatment is pain. Your significant pain can become more as soon as you rehabilitate. While you are recovering, physical therapy can lead to confusion and poor motivation. So, you must discuss these questions with your physiotherapist. You should determine first if the alternative healing interventions can lower the pain and discomfort. It can also allow you for better participation and results.

Your physiotherapist may recommend you oral pain medicines 30 minutes before a session in order to reduce your pain. Heat, ice, and topical treatment can lower your pain after a session, as recommended by a doctor.

2. Environmental stress

There are various hospitals, fitness centers, clinics, and physical therapy centers that are overcrowded and very stressful for patients. If you are under observation, a therapist may first need to reduce your stress and calm you down.

The last thing you would also want for yourself in recovering from pain or injury is stress. Stress can disturb you in the long run and can slow down your recovery period.

3. Inflammation

Physiotherapy often causes inflammation or swelling. It is because your muscles pull out. During the physical therapy session, your physiotherapist challenges your muscles, ligaments, and tendons to strengthen your tissues together. As a response to this, your body may cause increased swelling or edema.

Edema can cause additional functional limitations, severe swelling, inflammation, and pain. You should discuss this problem with your physiotherapist to find alternative treatments. You may try using a hot and then cold or trying an ice post-therapy. It will help you control inflammation, which will alleviate the pain, and swelling, as well as facilitate circulation.

4. Expensive treatment

Physical therapy can be very costly as the patient has been suffering from a disease or has got a severe injury. The treatment is costly even when a patient has come from the same hospital lately. 

You will be forced to use a lot of money in hospitals. At the same time, hospitals require to pay for their physical therapy. This might be the biggest problem for some people. Health insurance may cover some of the cost but it takes plenty of time and other several procedural follow-ups. You have to pay for multiple weekly appointments which you may not be prepared for. The treatment sessions can also take much time. And even the cost of your physiotherapy treatment is much high.

5. Limited equipment

Physical therapy involves the use of large size of equipment. The availability of these larger equipment and tools used for physical therapy can be a challenge for some time. Patients that need intensive therapy that might be too expensive and complicated to attain remain disadvantaged. It may be due to the therapist’s unavailability and the lack of capacity to acquire them. Sometimes it is almost impossible to acquire comprehensive therapy because of the lack of major and minor therapy equipment.

6. Lack of outcome

In any medical therapy, participation is not guaranteed. There are cases in which physiotherapy does not restore or fully resolve the symptoms. You may become disappointing and stop the therapy treatment in the middle of the session.

Nevertheless, if you decide to discontinue the physiotherapy session in the middle, it won’t be encouraged as it can worsen your case. You’re more likely to receive re-injury and long-term pain. Talk about your personal goals with your therapist. Also, adjust the supervision of treatment according to your requirement. You should try making possible lifestyle changes to help improve results.

7. Age barrier

Age problem is also one of the significant disadvantages of physiotherapy treatment. Most of the patients who need physical therapy are aged people. They already have been going through several complications and health issues. While dealing with aged patients, physiotherapists try performing simple and painless exercises along with genuine rehabilitation.

There are many exercises that aged people need and are beneficial to them, but unfortunately, their bodies can not perform well.


Not all discomforts and pain can be treated by physiotherapy. Multiple physical conditions like diabetes, pulmonary conditions, and cardiac conditions can’t be fixable by performing physiotherapy. As a result, patients start exploring additional treatments for certain conditions.

For example, if you are suffering from diabetes, a doctor should consult you to inhibit or lower the existence of hypoglycemia. Even though physical therapy causes diverse health benefits, it can also have some disadvantages. If the pain is prolonged or severe, discuss it with your physician first before going for physical therapy. You might just need to follow your doctor’s instructions in order to avoid further injury to your body.

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