There are many reasons why you might want to see a physiotherapist. Most people probably associate the profession with treating sports injuries, and many physios specialise in this field. Nonetheless, there is a range of other issues which can be treated with physiotherapy.
Selecting a Practice
Given the variety of areas that physiotherapists can work in, the first thing to consider is whether they have experience of working on the type of issue you want help with. Most commonly this will be a sports injury or perhaps a back problem, but, whatever it is, check out the experience and qualifications of the physio you are considering. The physio should be fully qualified and a member of the appropriate professional body. You will probably be able to see an online biography, which should enable you to identify their area(s) of specialisation. This emphasises one of the major advantages of going to a physio who works as part of a larger practice, either on one or several sites. At such practices, the physios will be expected to keep abreast of current developments in the field by means of continuing professional development, and their qualifications will have been verified. Furthermore, there will normally be a range of physios with different specialisations at these practices, so it is more likely that your treatment needs will be met within a reasonable timescale. The best practices will often be spread geographically so that they can offer local physiotherapy services.
Identifying the physio you want to work with
At your initial appointment, the physio will need to begin by asking lots of questions about your medical history and the specific problem you are having. This is essential, as the pain you are suffering could be related to a number of things, and the physio will only be able to help if they can identify the underlying cause. After this, they will normally check out the injury, and perhaps investigate your posture and strength. They may use ultrasound or acupuncture to promote healing or relieve pain. In the vast majority of cases, they will finish by demonstrating a set of exercises which they believe will gradually restore full function in the affected area, and may suggest that you book a follow-up appointment so that they can check your progress. At this stage, you can decide whether you want to continue with this physio. Ask yourself whether they seemed knowledgeable and appeared to have experience of your specific problem. Did they explain their diagnosis clearly, and, crucially, did they give you a written or printed summary of the exercises you need to do? There is nothing worse than leaving with four exercises to do each day, and realising later that you only remember two!
The ultimate test of a physiotherapist
This is, of course, whether your injury or condition shows an improvement. Remember, this can take time, and more than one consultation, and you must keep doing the recommended exercises.