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What to Expect from your Physiotherapy Appointment

What happens when you attend your first Physiotherapy appointment?

You should arrive 5 minutes early to fill out the registration form. Your Physio will then greet you and bring you into the clinic room. They will start with a detailed medical history to get all the information about your current issue. From here they will do a complete assessment to figure out what the issue is. They will then explain the findings of the assessment to you and answer any questions you have. This assessment allows the Physio to develop a specific treatment plan for you, this will be started in the first session and depending on the plan will include hands on treatment.

Your Physiotherapist will do their best to be on time, however in certain circumstances they may run a few minutes late.

What does the assessment involve?

Depending on where the issue is the Physio may ask you to remove some clothing. Is advisable to come with shorts if it is an issue with your lower back, hips or legs and perhaps a singlet if the issue is in your back, shoulders, neck or arms. It’s important that you are comfortable and that the physio can see the area well. Don’t worry if you don’t have shorts, the clinic will have a spare pair.

The Physiotherapist will then observe as you do some basic movements in standing, sitting or lying. They may also move your limbs to check flexibility or may palpate (feel) to get a sense of what is happening in the tissue.

Generally, the tests are pain free but some may cause mild discomfort. Be sure to give your Physiotherapist feedback on how it is feeling. This will help them determine what tests to do and will help narrow down to find the true cause of the symptoms.

What will the treatment include?

There is a huge array of treatments that Physiotherapists can do. Below is a list of the most common treatments:

  • Soft tissue massage

  • Trigger point therapy - direct pressure is applied to the area and held still

  • Joint mobilisations - pressure is applied to the joints to increase movement

  • Dry needling - very fine needles are placed into the tissue. It can cause a small twitch effect in the area.

  • Postural correction and exercise prescription - this can start as simply as some things to remember about your posture on a daily basis, to gentle exercises at home, progressing to gym exercises and return to sport programs.

  • Advice and education - This will cover what to do to help yourself and what to avoid.

Your Physiotherapist will decide upon what treatments will be the most effective for your issue. It’s important to remember none of them are compulsory, if you would prefer not to have a particular type of treatment you can always opt out.

What can you expect to feel after the treatment?

You may feel a little sore after the assessment and tender after the treatment. Generally speaking, you will leave feeling better, unless otherwise outlined by your Physiotherapist.

Now you have completed the first appointment what will the follow up entail?

After the first appointment, your Physiotherapist will have a treatment plan in action. They will start with a quick chat to determine how you have been doing since the previous appointment. They will then complete a condensed assessment to monitor your progress. The remainder of the session will be then focussed on the ongoing treatment.

How many appointments do you need to attend?

This varies a huge amount from person to person depending on what the issue is. This depends on several factors:

  • Which structure is causing the symptoms

  • The extent of the injury to this structure

  • How long you’ve had the symptoms

  • Your fitness levels and lifestyle prior to the pain

  • How good you are at following the treatment plan

Following your first appointment your Physiotherapist will outline how many sessions they think you will need to have and will re-evaluate this as the treatment continues.


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