What to expect in your first physiotherapy treatment?
Although your doctor will have taken the history of your injury and examined you before referring you to the physiotherapist, the treating physiotherapist will need to reassess you before beginning your treatment.
Why is this necessary?
Although your doctor’s assessment may have been very thorough, the information he / she seeks may be very different from the information your physiotherapist needs in order to plan your treatment.
Your doctor looks at the injury / symptoms to ascertain the underlying pathology and order any further investigations if necessary, to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
If your doctor refers you to a physiotherapist, the referral states the diagnosis, but relies on the physiotherapist to perform a more functional biomechanical assessment, and decide on the appropriate treatment.
If your injury is related to sport, the physiotherapist needs to know the skills necessary for you to participate in your chosen sport, the shoes you wear, the surface you play on, the history and mechanism of the injury etc.
If not related to sport, the physiotherapist needs to know how this injury is affecting your life (e.g. how long you have suffered from the pain, what increases / decreases the symptoms, what it’s stopping you from doing, what kind of work you do, how long the pain lasts, whether it is worse on movement or at rest, whether it disturbs your sleep etc.)
The physiotherapist examines the affected area, looking for swelling, bruising, redness, flexibility / joint stiffness, muscle spasm, exacerbating movements, muscle weakness, deformities, abnormal movement patterns etc. gradually building a picture of the underlying causes and appropriate treatment of the condition, before actually commencing treatment.
While this may be time consuming, this initial assessment is a vital part of your first physiotherapy session to ensure accurate problem solving and effective treatment.
At each subsequent session, a reassessment is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of your previous treatment, but will usually only occupy a few minutes of your 40-minute time slot.