If you’ve ever had surgery – or even if you haven’t – you’ve probably encountered a physiotherapist.
Physiotherapy is one of the trusty keystones of the NHS, found everywhere from hospitals and surgeries to sports clubs and health centres.
But how does it actually work? And when would you use it? Meet Mark Randall, a long-term friend and colleague of Chris Bailey Orthopaedics. We called Mark and fired some key questions at him…
Mark, thank you for joining us on the blog.
No problem! Thanks for having me.
When did you first get into the world of physiotherapy?
Back when I was 14! I did work experience at a military hospital near Cambridge, and I really enjoyed it. We were rehabilitating army guys back to full health. You’d see them arrive in a bit of a state but end up being able to head out and do their roles again. That’s what I like about physio. It’s about identifying problems and working on them. It’s a very problem-solving approach.
What kinds of roles have you had over the years?
After qualifying I joined the physio department at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) in Winchester. I enjoy sport, and I’ve worked with a lot of sportspeople: athletes, judo competitors, cricketers. I spent 12 years as head physio at Basingstoke Football Club. I also looked after the Basingstoke Ice Hockey team for two years.
Did you ever play ice hockey?
No! I spent a lot of time watching them, and I was quite happy to treat injuries, but you weren’t going to catch me on the ice rink. It’s not for the faint-hearted!
In a nutshell, how would you describe physiotherapy?
Basically, it’s treating and preventing physical conditions by using expert assessment, advice, exercise and hands-on techniques – things like soft-tissue massage, manipulation and joint mobilisation. It’s a purely physical practice. We don’t use any medicines. The idea is to set functional, achievable goals that return you to full health.
Which parts of the body do you treat?
Everything. I’m a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, so I literally treat muscle and joint problems from head to toe: the jaw, spine, shoulders, knees, hips, elbows, wrists, fingers. Even headaches, if they’re caused by a neck problem.
Why are surgeons so keen to recommend physiotherapy?
Because it works on so many different levels, with many different kinds of people. Post-surgery it’s very important for your rehab, for instance. As Mr Bailey will tell you, in most cases surgery is only 50% of the solution. Strength, conditioning, optimising the range of motion in joints – these are the things that give you the best outcome after surgery.
How often do you work with Mr Bailey?
We work very closely, in the NHS and privately. If I feel someone isn’t going to get better without his help, I’ll refer to him for a surgical opinion. Likewise, if Chris feels a patient doesn’t need surgical intervention, or if it would be best to try physio first, he’ll send that person to me. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
When would a person need surgery rather than physio?
A classic example would be an ACL rupture, where the tissues won’t rejoin on their own. Or a meniscal tear, where torn cartilage needs to be removed or trimmed. But both Chris and I would agree that surgery should be a last resort. If we can avoid it, it’s always better to take a conservative approach.
Let’s say I have had an op, though. What happens next?
If it’s something simple like keyhole surgery, I’d see you about five days later. For something bigger, like a knee replacement or a cruciate ligament reconstruction, it’ll be a week to 10 days. I’ll have a clear note from Chris about the surgery he’s performed. Then I’ll assess you and chat with you about your long-term goals: what do you want to get back to doing? And we’ll come up with a plan.
What might that plan involve?
To put it simply, physiotherapy is about symmetry: we want your left and right joints to move in the same way, have the same strength and the same ability to balance and coordinate. So we’ll look at some specific exercises you can do. It’s very functional and individualised.
Muscle soreness is the bane of many office jobs. Any advice for people with desk jobs?
My main advice is to keep mobile. Don’t sit there for hours at a time. Get up every half an hour. Move around. Have a bit of a stretch. Depending on where the problem is, we could give you some specific exercises to work on too.
Why does movement help?
It’s mainly about getting blood supply to the joints. Your joints aren’t designed to be held immobile for long periods of time. The longer you sit down, the more stiff and achy you’ll feel when you get up. Movement helps avoid that. It also reduces blood pressure and increases heart rate. It has so many positives.
If people want to contact you direct, how can they do that?
The best thing to do is to go to my website [for details, see below] and give me a call. I like to chat to people – it’s much better than an email! So I’ll find out what your problems are and maybe arrange an appointment. I can usually do that within a few days.
Mark is just one of the many experts who keep Chris Bailey Orthopaedics running smoothly. You can find out more about Chris and his team on our website, or call in to book an appointment. To get in touch with Mark, visit his website. (Please note that we are not responsible for the content of external websites.)