5 Questions to Ask Before Your First Physiotherapy Appointment

5 Questions to ask before your first physiotherapy appointment

  1.  What do I need to bring?

When you come to your first physiotherapy appointment, please bring with you your:

  • medicare card,
  • referral or paperwork from your doctor or specialist, 
  • paperwork from other bodies such as Workcover or insurance companies,
  • a list of any medications you are currently taking,
  • and if relevant, your health fund card.
  • Also, if you have any relevant reports or imaging scans, please bring these with you as they may give us more information to help you better!

As for what to wear, please wear comfortable loose fitting clothes that will enable your physiotherapist to adequately assess the injured part of your body, and also be appropriate for exercising in. If coming straight from work, it may be helpful to bring a change of clothes. Also, please arrive for your first appointment at least 10 minutes early to fill out relevant paperwork. 

  1. What treatment options do you use?

In recent years, physiotherapy research has given us greater insight into which treatment options are more effective for treating musculoskeletal pain, and also which ones tend to provide less benefit. Recent evidence indicates that electrotherapy modalities (such as therapeutic ultrasound, interferential machines and TENS machines) are not as helpful as we used to think they were. At Sycamore Health, we don’t use these machines as we prefer to employ other treatment options which will give you more bang for your buck!

The treatment options we use depend on the type and stage of your condition, working in collaboration with the client as appropriate. We don’t use recipe approaches to treatment but advise clients on the best treatment options to get the greatest outcome for each individual. Treatment options may include:

  • Targeted exercise therapy and rehabilitation
  • Hands-on techniques such as soft tissue massage and joint mobilisation
  • Taping eg. sports taping, kinesiology taping
  • Dry needling and Western Acupuncture
  • Prescription of devices such as braces, crutches etc.
  • Expert advice and education on how to manage your condition and recover faster

  1. Will physiotherapy hurt?

While we make every attempt to make your physiotherapy session as comfortable as possible, with certain types of pain and conditions (and different stages of recovery), rehab treatment can be uncomfortable. During the session, we continually monitor your response to treatment to ensure that you find it tolerable. It is important to note that discomfort during a session does not mean that further damage or injury is occurring, and is often due to sensitised structures being stimulated or de-conditioned tissues being "woken up".

While discomfort isn’t always a bad thing, treatment doesn’t have to be painful to be effective. Many clients quote the saying “no pain no gain” - while this is sometimes true, you don’t always need to be sore to benefit, as many of our treatment techniques are very comfortable and pain-relieving.

So, expect some soreness, but know it 1) will be within YOUR level of tolerance, and 2) will be helping you towards your goal!

  1. How long will I have to keep attending sessions? 

It’s almost like asking the age old question of how long is a piece of string? The answer is twice half of its length. In reality, the time for physiotherapy to work depends on a variety of factors.

The number of physiotherapy appointments will vary depending on factors involving the client (e.g. work or sport commitments) and the condition (e.g. severity, time of onset). Some of the most common complaints and expected treatment times are;

  • Lower Back Pain – 3-8 sessions pending on severity
  • Wry Neck (waking up with a sore, restricted neck) – 2-6 sessions
  • Ankle Sprain –  3-8 sessions

There are several factors that need to be considered when measuring the effect of physiotherapy:

  • Client’s age and general health status.
  • Injury/disease commencement (how long ago?) and progression.
  • Injury/disease severity.
  • Other current and past health conditions/issues.
  • Occupation/hobbies etc.
  • Current/previous sport and exercise.
  • Compliance with physiotherapy-recommended modifications and home exercise program.

If you are not seeing progress with physiotherapy, discuss other options with your therapist such as seeing your GP or undergoing an investigation (e.g. x-ray, MRI). It is important to continue seeing your physiotherapist until they are happy to discharge you from their care. This ensures your injury/condition is completely rehabilitated, while also giving you the best possible chance that your symptoms will not re-occur in the future.

To find out more about the types of treatment and how long physiotherapy can take to work, continue reading below or give the team at Sycamore Health a call on (07) 3046 1700.

  1. What should I expect in the first session?

The main goal of the first session is to find out about you and your situation so that we can work together with you to achieve the best outcome.  Very likely, we will ask you questions about:

  • Your area of pain (or other symptoms)
  • The type of pain you are experiencing
  • Things that may have caused the injury or pain
  • How the pain is affecting your life
  • How long you’ve been experiencing the pain
  • Whether this is the first time this has happened
  • What YOUR recovery goals are
  • Your general health (as this can impact your recovery)
  • Lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, exercise, beliefs about your injury

This is usually followed by a thorough physical assessment of your area of pain (and other relevant areas). We don’t just leave it to guesswork!

This information will give us lots of clues about why you are experiencing this pain and how we can best work together with you to help get you back on track. We will start treatment on the first day, which will involve educating you regarding your pain, and inform you of the things that you can do between sessions to recover quicker.

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