If you've not attended a physiotherapy appointment before it can be a daunting thought, especially if someone is suffering with high amounts of pain and are worried about what is happening to them and why they are getting these symptoms. Listed below are the answers to some frequently asked questions that physiotherapists talk to their patients about on a daily basis.
Frequently asked questions
At an appointment, what should I expect?
On your first visit the session will be split into two parts. Initially the physiotherapist will ask lots of questions about your problem, this helps the physio start to understand your symptoms and formulate a diagnosis. The second part involves some movements, tests and palpation of the area of concern to further confirm their findings. Once the therapist has a full understanding of the problem, the diagnosis will be discussed with the patient and treatment will then begin. This may involve soft tissue release, mobilisation of stiff joints, ultrasound electrotherapy etc (see 'Treatments offered'). At the end of the session it is commonplace to receive some exercises to help the problem at home and encourage self-management.
Generally, subsequent sessions require less time assessing and therefore include more time treating the problem. It is difficult to say how many sessions a particular condition will require as all patients present and respond differently. We will discuss this with you in your first consultation and do our best to provide a timeframe for you. Again, it is commonplace to receive some exercises to help the problem at home and encourage self-management.
Will I be sore after treament?
Some patients may be sore initially following a physiotherapy session. This is fairly common but all attempts are made to keep this to a minimum. Following the initial increase in soreness, patients often then report an improvement in the following days. If, however, the post treatment soreness is too much, this must be discussed with the physio as they may need to adapt their treatment pressure or modality to suit you. Every patient and every condition presents and responds differently and sometimes it is a combination of treatments, such as massage, mobilisation and acupuncture for example, that results in achieving the patients goals.
Whats the difference between Physiotherapy, Chiropractors and Osteopaths?
There is much overlap these days between the three professions and the lines are much more blurred than they used to be. As a guide a chiropractor traditionally focuses on spinal alignment and manipulations whist still treating the soft tissues and joints. An Osteopath may lean more towards treating the structure and mechanical dysfunctions of the body, restoring the whole body back to health. Physiotherapy would traditionally be based on the movement of the individual and their ability to be functionally fit and pain free, again through having a wide knowledge and understanding of anatomy and the human systems of movement. Like all professions, individually we all work differently and in this context it’s about finding what is right for the patient and their problem.
What happens if the physiotherapy treatment does not work?
If, following a number of treatment interventions it is evident that the patient’s problem is unchanged, albeit this is very rare, the physiotherapist will discuss options with the patient.
We can liaise with the GP and a referral may be made for further investigations such as x-rays, ultrasound scans, MRI scans or blood tests. This may in turn lead to a referral onto a consultant who specialises in the type of condition that the patient is experiencing. Be aware however that the option of surgery should always be a last resort and a conservative approach like physiotherapy and exercise should be considered first.
What should I wear?
To help the physiotherapist diagnose and treat your problem effectively, it is important that they can get access to the area at fault. It is suggested patients wear clothing that can be rolled up easily or wear/bring shorts to change into. If it is a shoulder or upper back injury patients may want to wear a strap type vest top to allow the physio easier access to the area. These items of clothing can be borrowed also from the clinic at no extra charge. It is also commonplace for the therapist to provide towels to cover patients and maintain dignity. Patients also have the option to bring a chaperone to the appointment with them if they feel more comfortable.