By Andrew CoyleAUSTRALIA is a country where people with a range of conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia and spinal injuries are being treated for their symptoms using a range the government has labelled “physiotherapists”.
The latest edition of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has the number of sciatic nerve cases in the country at 2.3 million, which the Australian Medical Association says is one of the highest in the world.
But Dr Craig Williams, the chief executive of the Association of Physiotherapeutic Therapists, says it is not a sustainable problem.
“The problem is not that we have 2.6 million people out there who are not getting physiotherapy,” Dr Williams said.
“What we have is that physiotherapy is a very, very expensive, highly specialized service.”
The average cost for physiotherapy in Australia was $400,000 a year, and in some places like Perth, it is up to $1 million a year.
Dr Williams said the vast majority of people who need physiotherapy needed it for their back pain.
“They have back pain, or they have back spasms,” he said.
He said physiotherapy was a popular treatment in the north of the country because it was “one of the safest and most effective treatments for back pain”.
Dr Williams says the most commonly prescribed treatment for sciacutaneous sciaticitis is physiotherapy, with about two-thirds of the population seeing it for a few months.
He says physiotherapy can help relieve pain and reduce symptoms.
“It is not about taking a pill and getting off it,” he told the ABC.
“I do see it as a way to try and manage pain, but it is also a way of managing the condition, which is really important in people’s lives.”
Dr Williams has treated over 1,500 patients over the past six years, mostly women.
He has seen a dramatic increase in the number and severity of sciacuts, with more than half of his patients having back pain or spasms.
“We do have a large proportion of patients that we treat that do not have a history of spinal cord injury, but there is also significant evidence that there is a link between spinal cord injuries and sciatic conditions,” he explained.
Dr William said the treatment was “pretty straightforward” and it helped people with spinal cord pain.
He is optimistic that physiotherapies will become more widely available in the future.
“There is a recognition that it is something that needs to be done, we need to think about how to do it,” Dr William said.
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