Physiotherapists, help or hindrance?

Having been to Rheumatology at Guys Hospital, London, the Physio and Consultant said that they recommend Graded Exercise Therapy (GET). Unfortunately in the London Borough of Bromley Physiotherapy has been contracted out to a private company. I feel this is probably where the trouble starts.

I saw a gentleman who apparently was a Senior Therapist. Having been informed as to my diagnosis from my GP, I also have arthritis in my knees and right ankle, he asked me what my main problem was. If you go to Physio in Bromley with more than one injury or pain area it would seem that you are only allowed to have one area treated. I knew this from when I first went in Dec'11. Back then I was examined given some exercises and basically shown the door. As a sufferer of this debilitating illness as we all know it affect multiple parts of the body. My main area of pain is my legs and hips. I have terrible trouble with balance and therefore use a walking sticking. Also I have started suffering severe panic attacks again which also causes balance issues. The reason I had initially been referred was to have it documented that I need to use a stick and have an assessment of my mobility. This was refused by the physio even though it was the course of action I had been told to take by my OT. He told me that being middle aged many people have problems with joints etc and that I was practically making a fuss. He said that I didn't need to use a stick before he examined me and told me he was being optimistic about my mobility. I could not believe what I was hearing! "Optimism," I said "I am far beyond optimism" I say, "I am here to try and improve my mobility, I have a condition that I have come to terms with and am seeking GET, to deal with it!" "Well shall we get on with it then?" he said, "Yes!" I replied angrily.

Whilst being examined I lost my balance quite a few times. Then I was asked to lay on the treatment bed. Having been what I can only describe as manipulated by the Physiotherapist I ended up flat on my back. "OK you can get up now," he said. Unfortunately I cannot get up without assistance when lying down on my back. At home I use a bed bar and am fortunate enough to have an electric bed. I asked the Physio for help to get up and explained I cannot do this alone from this position. To my astonishment he point blankly refused! He then started to order me to turn on my side and put myself in the foetal position, all of which causes me extreme pain. I ask again for him just to help me get up, again he refuses. "I am trying to show you how to get up at home!" he explains abruptly. " but I have things to help me get up at home," I say angrily and frustrated! "this is not what I do at home and need help!" I explain again. Once in the foetal position, which has been hard to get into he says to throw my legs off the bed and lift myself up with my arm from underneath me. I just could not do this on such a narrow bed. Watching me struggle eventually he helps me up.

Left in excruciating pain unnecessarily once up I am left facing the window, with my back to him I sit there for a few minutes trying to compose myself. "What's wrong, are you in pain?" he asks. "Yes! immense pain," I said.

He then goes on to tell me to get up and dressed when I am ready. Once composed I get dressed with difficulty. "did you drive here today?" he asks, "Yes," I reply. "How long were you in the waiting area?" he asked. "Only a couple of minutes." I said. "You didn't exactly walk far or sit long did you?" he said. "No but as I said my mobility is very poor, I am in immense pain the moment I stand and start walking." I told him. He seems to be more bothered by my balance than anything else and says that he will have to inform the DVLA about this as I drive. I told him I already have and do not have balance problems when I am sitting down! I explained I know my obligation as a licence holder and am currently having my licence reviewed, due to my medical conditions. He said to me that in 10 years of practice he had never knew someone with Fibro to have balance issues

He then continues to write what can only be described as a thesis in front of me. "Do you know much about your condition?" he asks. "Yes," I reply, "I know that it is a neuropathic pain condition." He then leaves the room and comes back with a small pamphlet and says, "read this you obviously know little about your condition. It is not a brain condition it is a condition that affects the muscles but is not degenerative." I tell him I know all that but by this time I just want to leave.

Having told him that Guys Hospital suggested GET he said, So he taps away on his computer again and prints off 7 exercises. Take a look at these and tell me if you don't understand any of them. I look through them and most I could not do at this present time due to my disability. "Well these are the exercises we give for your condition." "Do 2 x 10 reps and I will see you in 3 weeks," he said. Over my dead body I thought are you seeing me again.

When I left I was extremely upset and furious about my ordeal I left the practice and started to drive home. I was so baffled about him saying I knew nothing about my condition so I pulled over to read the pamphlet. Under the heading, "What is Fibromyalgia?" part of it says about the brain sending out the wrong signals to your pain receptors. Is that not a Neuropathic condition? I rest my case.

When I get home I immediately go for the GET patient handbook given to me by Guys. This booklet has been compiled with experts in the field of Fibromyalgia from several different NHS Trusts. In the section that has a number of exercises towards the end of the only 1 of the 7 exercises given by the Physio is in it. What's more it says that in the beginning pick out 2 or 3 exercises to start with and hold each position from 2 to 5 seconds.

What a joke that man is! Senior Physiotherapist. I know you were not from this country and were probably trained abroad, but seriously???

In a nutshell I am wondering if I am alone in what I can only describe as barbaric treatment from the one set of people who are supposedly experts in treating Fibro? Please comment.

10 Replies

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  • I too have suffered at the hands of physio at my local hospital and refuse to go to any more...first time given neck exercises that the pain clinic told me never to do... Second time he tried acupuncture.. Left me sitting in pain as I am hypersensitive to all needles and have been known to faint.... My trigger point injection clinic treat me so kindly because of this. No help with acupuncture .. Third time he set me up on a neck stretching machine which I can only describe as a modern rack and left me for 20 mins while he went and left me alone with a panic button. I thought physio was meant to be hands on ... My physio refused to help me in any way with movement in case I had cause to complain about the way he handled me medically or ethically so was absolutely no use at all Health and safety gone into madness...

  • Have you considered making a formal complaint and letting Guys know what happened?

    I wrote a blog article a while back on Physio & Fibro which might help if and when you see another Physio!

    fibroaction.healthunlocked....

  • Yes Lindsey, I have been really depressed the last few weeks and it just about getting the fight in me and the motivation to do that. I know though that I owe it not only to myself but also to everyone of us that suffer with Fibro.

  • I have refused to go to physio as i know i could do better than them. I know what my body feels like and i try my best not to spend all day every day in bed. And i also have osteoarthritis in my knees and i walk with a stick as i have balance problems and some times my muscles refuse to move.

  • Hi do you mind if I print your post to take with me to ram down this guy's throat?

  • no i don't what you do but can you video it so we can all watch :)

  • Grrrrrrrrrrr. Dont they make you so mad .. Yesterday I see an NHS Pyhsio for pain in my right shoulder ..simple thats where it starts and thats where it hurts ... No it is not fibro after 24 yrs I can tell he differents . After asking me lots of questions and moving my shoulder and arms says .......... Not sure if I can do anything for you as you hurt everywhere .. Mmmmmm think I told him this at the start ...... Best questions .. Does the pain increase when you stretch to the.top shelve in the cupboard .do you take pain killers to help with shoulder pain ..... At this point I ask him does he know anything about Fibro .... Blank look , make an appointment for 3 weeks not sure if we can help I will ask others Physios if they have any ideas .... Help ....

    He too was surprised when I stubbled ........

  • physio was sheer torture for me,as i was leaving the hospital i was literally crying in pain and could hardly move.That was me finished with it,never again. I was luckier than you because at least the physio was lovely and explained that id probably get worse over time,and how right she was. this was about 9 years ago and ive only been diagnosed with fibro for about a year. You have been treated appallingly by this person,but try and not let it get you down. best wishes xx

  • I went to physio after a fall down stairs 18 months ago and they were very good and got me walking again, the OA in my knee didn't like the fall. But FMS is something they can't treat because nothing is broken or maybe the only thing that is broken they don't know enough about, mainly the mind. My advice don't stay in one position all day, don't stay in bed all day, if you are over weight do what you can to loose some. Try and go for a walk every day even if its just down the road and back or round the garden. Do little and often.

  • That is disgraceful treatment, I agree with Lindsey definitely cause for complaint x

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