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Physiotherapy – 5 things to expect from your appointment

January 27 | 2022
Posted by Sharon Tierney

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There are more and more people who are using physiotherapy services to help them recover from their injuries and pain conditions.  However, there are also a lot of people who do not understand what physiotherapy can offer.  Physiotherapy plays an important role in keeping people healthy and active.


What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is a health care profession that helps people regain their strength and function.  A Registered Physiotherapist will do an assessment that helps them understand the nature of the patient’s problem.  They will then develop a treatment plan.  More specifically, the treatment plan will address the limitations that is not allowing them to live out their best quality of life.  The main goals of physiotherapy is to restore, maintain and improve strength, function and movement.

What kind of symptoms can physiotherapy help treat?

  • Pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Weakness
  • Limited flexibility
  • Loss of function
  • Poor balance
  • Dizziness/Vertigo

What kind of injuries can physiotherapy treat?

How do you go about seeing a Registered Physiotherapist?

Most people have at least one friend or family member who has received physiotherapy for an injury.  For example, people will usually ask their friends or family for clinic recommendations.  If none are available, then most people will do a quick google search to see their options.  Once they find a clinic that appears reputable and is easily accessible, then the next step is to call the clinic and book an assessment.  A lot of first-time patients feel some anxiety about starting physiotherapy because they do not know what to expect from the appointment.

What is a physiotherapy assessment?

The assessment is an important first step in starting your physiotherapy program.  During the assessment, the patient will meet with a registered physiotherapist who will assess the patient’s condition.  What are some of the typical things to expect during a physiotherapy assessment?

1. Conversation with the physiotherapist.

The physiotherapist will ask some details about the patient’s pain or injury.  This helps the physiotherapist gain an understanding of their specific condition.  More specifically, the answers will help the physiotherapist form some potential diagnoses.  For example, some questions the physiotherapist may ask include:

  • When did the pain start?
  • Was there a specific incident that started the pain?
  • Has the pain changed since it first started?
  • Is your pain better in morning, afternoon or evening?
  • What activities or positions make the pain feel worse?
  • What activities or positions make the pain feel better?
  • Have you had this type of pain in the past?
  • Have you had any other injuries in the past?
  • What kind of work do you?
  • How is your general health?

2.  The physical assessment.

During this part of the assessment, the physiotherapist will ask the patient to do certain movements and tests.  The physiotherapist will observe what happens to their pain in response to these tests.  The type and amount of testing that is done will depend on the specific injury.  The physiotherapist may also check a patient’s strength levels, neurological signs, balance and any other tests that will help them arrive at a potential diagnosis.

3.  The patient should expect to do a fair amount of movement during the appointment and should be dressed in comfortable clothes.

Comfortable clothing, such as gym or yoga wear, is recommended for physiotherapy sessions.  For patients who have knee injuries it is suggested that they wear a pair of shorts.  Patients who are coming in for shoulder injuries, should wear a sleeveless top.  This will help give the physiotherapist better access to the injured areas so that they can see and feel what’s happening.

Physiotherapy is an active treatment program and patients should be dressed the part!

4.  The physiotherapy treatment.

Once the physiotherapist understands the patient’s condition, they can develop a treatment plan to address their limitations.  In most cases, treatment is started immediately after the assessment.  Furthermore, the exact type of treatment that the physiotherapist will provide will depend on the patient’s condition.  For example, a physiotherapy session may consist of a number of different treatments, including:

  • Education

    • The physiotherapist will help explain their assessment findings and their impression of the condition
    • Additionally, the physiotherapist will explain some of the DOs and DON’Ts to help the patient achieve their best recovery
    • They will also educate on best postures and the use of ice or heat for pain management
  • Manual therapy

    • The physiotherapist may find it beneficial to do some hands-on work for the injury
    • More specifically, manual treatment may include soft tissue releases, joint mobilizations and passive stretches
  • Exercise therapy

    • A key component of physiotherapy is helping to regain mobility and strength
    • The physiotherapist will provide exercises that will help regain any lost range of motion and strength
    • The physiotherapist will also continue to progress the exercises as the patient shows improvement with their exercise program
    • The goals of the exercise program are to improve the functional abilities of the patient and help them get back to their regular activities
  • Electrical modalities

    • A physiotherapist may use some electrical modalities to help manage pain or promote healing depending on the injury
    • Some examples of electrical modalities include Interferential Current, Ultrasound and Laser

5.  The patient should expect to be present at the clinic for at least 1 hour for their assessment.

The amount of time that it takes to complete the first visit can range anywhere between 45 mins to 1 hour.  More specifically, if the condition is very complex or the patient has a lot of movement limitations, the assessment may take longer.  The physiotherapist needs a good amount of time to do a thorough and accurate job of understanding the patient’s injury.

Once the assessment and first treatment are complete, the physiotherapist will make recommendations for future appointments.  For most patients, it is recommended that they book at least two appointments a week for 3-4 weeks and then depending on their recovery, they can start to wean off.  Some patients will have a quick recovery and may not need a lot of treatments.  Others may have more chronic or severe injuries that may need several weeks or months to improve.  The physiotherapist will make sure that the patient is receiving the amount of treatment that they need to get the fastest possibly recovery.

Physiotherapy has an important role to play in the recovery and management of a lot of conditions.  Its focus on active participation and exercise makes sure that patients maintain their function and experience a better quality of life.  Call PhysioNow today to book your physiotherapy appointment!


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