If you are nervous about visiting a physio for the first time you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, I will discuss what to expect when visiting a physio clinic for your initial consultation. I will also cover the different treatments that physio’s offer and give you some tips on how to prepare for your first physio appointment, for example, what to wear.
What To Expect When Visiting A Physio
It is normal to be nervous when visiting a new place for the first time. I want to make your first physiotherapy experience as comfortable and relaxing as possible.
When you arrive at a physio clinic, you will be greeted by a receptionist, they may ask you fill in an intake form, which your physiotherapist will go over with you during the consultation. They will then give you a brief overview of what to expect during your physio appointment.
Next, you will meet with your physio. They will ask you about your health history and current condition. They will ask questions like “when did your symptoms first begin?” and “what activities are your symptoms stopping you from doing?”.
They will then perform a physical examination to determine the severity and potential causes or contributors to your injury or condition. The physical assessment is based on your presenting complain and history. The physical assessment may include some of the following:
- Observation – Your physio will look at the symptomatic area for discolouration, swelling, changes in muscle tone, or bruising. They will also observe your overall posture.
- Functional Assessment – Your physio may ask you to perform certain movements that provoke your symptoms, for example, a squat or reaching over head or walking, to determine the quality of your movement, and to determine if the way you perform these tasks could be modified to prevent symptoms, and to determine a starting point for treatment – these movements can be repeated after the treatment session to see if symptoms have improved.
- Palpation – Your physio will palpate the symptomatic area of changes in muscle tone and sensation, and to localise the pain to a specific structure, be it muscle, ligament, bone, or tendon.
- Range of Motion – Your physio will also check you mobility or flexibility of the affected joint(s) and the surrounding joints, and the length of the surrounding muscles.
- Strength – Your physio will assess the strength of your affected or symptomatic joint or muscle and compare it to the unaffected or “normal” side to determine if there is a deficit in strength.
- Grip strength – Your physio may also examine grip strength if your symptoms are in the upper extremities, for example, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis or nerve pain down one arm.
After the physical examination, the physio will develop a physiotherapy treatment plan specifically for you. This will likely include a combination of exercises, manual therapy, and education. The physio will then explain the treatment plan to you in detail and answer any questions you may have, and ensure you are happy with the treatment plan and there is no confusion.
How Long Does A Physio Session Last?
You can expect your first physiotherapy appointment to last approximately 30 minutes. However, subsequent appointments may be shorter or longer, depending on your individual needs.
How Many Physio Sessions Will You Need?
Your treatment plan may include 6-8 sessions, however, everyone is different, if the condition is quite severe, some clients may #
]need 15-20 sessions, the range is very broad.
What Types Of Treatments Do Physio’s Use?
Physio’s use a wide range of different treatments, depending on the clients needs and preferences, and the physio’s expertise. When you visit a physio they may use some of the following therapies and treatments:
- Manual Therapy – which may include massage therapy, stretching, and joint manipulations and mobilisations.
- Exercise Therapy.
- Activity Modification.
- Laser Therapy.
- Shockwave Therapy.
- Dry Needling.
- Ultrasound Therapy.
- Breathing Exercises.
- Intrinsic Core Strengthening.
- Non-surgical Spinal Decompression.
Do I Have To Undress During Physio?
Your physio may ask you to partially undress to enable them to treat the symptomatic area. However, if you are not completely comfortable with partially undressing, your physio can modify the treatment session and use a different treatment modality, such as exercise therapy, that does not require exposing the area.
What Should I Wear To A Physio Appointment?
It is a very good idea to wear comfort and stretchy clothing so that you comfortably perform exercises during your appointment, and your physio can stretch and assess the flexibility of a certain joint easily without the need to undress. It is also a good idea to bring shorts to your appointment so your physio can, for example, easily assess the hip, knee or ankle without resistance from tight jeans. And without the need for you to undress down to your underwear.
Is Physio Supposed To Hurt?
Physio can sometimes be uncomfortable and even challenging, but it should always be within a tolerable range.
The principle behind some treatment modalities, i.e. stretching tight joints and deep tissue massage, which can be unpleasant to some clients, is that the physio is trying to stimulate a change in the body – stimulate an increase in blood-flow to a specific area, as blood-flow is essential for recovery, and to desensitise a sensitive area to give the brain the information that movement is okay and safe to do, which reduces tension and stress in that area.
I hope you found this blog helpful and you now feel more at ease heading to your first physio appointment. If you have any questions about physio or topics you would like us to write about next, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected], I would be happy to help.