Physiotherapy methods can constitute either a stand-alone or a supplementary treatment. Their primary aim is to stimulate the body’s defence mechanisms and improve their efficiency. Physiotherapeutic action is considered as indirect, having the aim of stimulating the body to fight disease. We cannot, therefore, expect immediate results.
Our bodies were adapted to receiving various stimuli thanks to the existence of a multitude of receptors, such as the mechanoreceptors, which are responsible for the sense of touch, for instance, and the thermoreceptors, which handle the sensing of temperature.
Physiotherapeutic methods make use of physiological stimuli, which is to say stimuli that originate in the external environment and act incessantly on the human body to a greater or lesser degree; heat and cold may both serve as examples here. They are thus stimuli with which the system is familiar and for which, thanks to its natural regulatory mechanism, it is prepared. The body receives the physiotherapeutic stimuli working on it as a disruption of its internal equilibrium, its homeostasis. This causes the activation of compensatory mechanisms, which then endeavour to restore the balance. The administration of a series of repeated stimuli constitutes its own kind of training for the mechanisms of homeostasis. The body begins to adapt to the new conditions and the natural self-regulatory mechanisms are ‘coached’ and, in consequence, bolstered.