Living North: On The Move

Living North talks to the experts at Newcastle Sports Injury Clinic about the benefits of physiotherapy, the importance of posture, and improving sports performance.

Q: Why should people choose physiotherapy as a treatment?

A: Physiotherapists have in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and are able to diagnose musculoskeletal problems throughout the whole body. This includes joint pain, muscular pain and nerve pain. In terms of training, physiotherapists undergo similar structured training to a doctor or a dentist.

Q: What should a patient expect from a visit to Newcastle Sports Injury Clinic?

A: All physiotherapists working at the clinic are chartered and all have undergone a range of post-graduate training in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Following a detailed assessment, our clinicians provide every patient with an excellent understanding about their problem. Depending on the needs of the patients, treatment techniques including soft tissue mobilisations, joint manipulations and exercise advice are given and the physiotherapist will discuss with the patient their ideal treatment plan. This may also include the possibility of diagnostic scanning including MRI or referral to consultants for further investigations. Physiotherapy is a science and consequently as a profession, we are always learning more and more about the best way to manage injuries. Physiotherapists working at the clinic keep abreast of the latest research on musculoskeletal injury to ensure all our patients receive the
very best treatment.

Q: What’s special about the way you approach treatments?

A: All clinicians working at NSIC treat the very specific needs of our patients. Our approach is very
patient-orientated; we take into account the nature of the problem and the many lifestyle factors that may affect the onset of injury. These may include a patient’s occupation or hobbies, both can play an important role in the management of someone’s injury. When assessing any patient, we also consider a patient’s goals and aspirations. We are interested in what the patient wants to achieve out of our service. This ranges from some people wanting just a diagnosis and an understanding of their injury, to others wanting treatment and advice until they are totally fit again. We always treat the cause and not just the symptom, that way we ensure that we achieve excellent long term results.

Too often injuries are examined considering only the local area that is hurting. That leads to a very narrow-minded approach which does not lead to very good results. We take the time to listen to our patients and explore the full history, that way we can gain a full picture of the injury and tailor treatment accordingly.

Q: What kind of injuries do you see most often?

A: We see a huge range of injuries at the clinic. In addition to sports injuries, we also treat a lot of non-sporting injuries. Treating musculoskeletal injuries is complicated, patients often attend with something like elbow or leg pain and following a comprehensive assessment, the clinician may suggest it is coming from their neck or lower back. It is essential that the patient receives a clear explanation regarding the processes involved in their problem, that way they can understand how to improve the pain.

We see everything from office workers with neck and shoulder pain, to ramblers with knee problems. On a weekly basis clinicians carry out a wide variety of tasks including work station assessments, education sessions and one to one physiotherapy assessment and treatments. Our therapists see an awful lot of posture-related problems. Our therapists use their expertise in manual therapy to treat the pain. Unfortunately the majority of us are sitting for longer periods therefore we are more prone to such problems.

Q: Do you have any advice for people suffering with lower back pain?

A: Unfortunately we see it too often, patients delay attending the clinic due to time constraints. As a result of the delay, the problem turns from a relatively minor problem to a rather more complicated one. As every clinician will testify, the sooner a patient receives treatment, the sooner the problem is likely to improve. As a result of this, they will require less input overall. Delays in seeking the correct advice can lead to compensatory changes which can only add to the complexity of musculoskeletal injuries. An example of that is someone suffering from acute lower back pain. The patient may delay seeking treatment which leads to a worsening of the problem and deterioration in movement patterns. The clinician may spend the first session trying to address the compensations before they can get on and improve the real underlying problem.

Q: Can you tell us about the work you do with elite athletes?

A: We treat a number of elite athletes from all around the country. Many people travel from far afield and use our experts as consultants to help guide a more local physiotherapist. All our clinicians have a passion for sport, a number have competed at Olympic and World Championship standard and as a result they understand the sporting performer. Prevention is better than cure; we carry out a lot of screening assessment where we put sports men and women through a series a tests to identify the potential for injury. Such screening often helps them to stay on the field or the track throughout the course of the season. These include running golf and dance screening.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your work?

A: One of the most challenging scenarios is when a patient arrives at the clinic for the first time and they have been everywhere else and have been told 10 different things. I love the challenge; it can be hard work to get someone to listen when they have received such conflicting information. It is great when I do something and they feel better and they say ‘I wish I had come here in the first place’. The vast majority of people attend the clinic having been referred from a friend, relative or work colleague. As a result of this they have very high expectations of the service that is provided and we are very fortunate to have a fantastic team that can live up to these high expectations of our patients.

Q: The clinic has recently moved premises to Saville Place, are there any more expansion plans afoot?

A: In August we moved to our new clinic at Saville Place. Our new clinic offers modern treatment rooms, a dedicated pilates and rehabilitation studio and still the convenience of a city center location. In addition to our Alnwick Clinic, May 2015 will see the opening of another clinic in Jesmond so watch this space.