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What to Expect from your Initial Physiotherapy Assessment

So, you’ve booked your first physiotherapy session with us, however you don’t know exactly what to expect from your initial physiotherapy assessment? That’s not a problem, as we are going to discuss what we will do in your first physiotherapy session.

Initially, our physiotherapists like to have a comprehensive chat about what has been going on, for you to book an appointment with Sano Physiotherapy. This will include questions regarding past injuries, your general health, medication, your job, hobbies and more importantly, what you have been struggling with, since having your injury. If you’ve been referred to us by your occupational health team or an insurer, you may have answered some of these questions before, but it is essential that we gather the information directly from you before we proceed.

Once your physiotherapist has built up a good picture in their head about what might be going on, then they will go into a physical examination.

What does a Physical Examination involve?

A physical examination is simply where your physiotherapist will ask you to complete a set of movements, e.g. of your shoulder or problem area to see which movements might be restricted or causing your pain. From here, they may test your strength to see if that is an area they may need to work on; this can also lead the physiotherapist to the structure or muscle that might be causing your pain. A key aim for your physio is to get to the root cause of your pain efficiently, so they can begin the recovery process as soon as possible. Your physiotherapist also has many “special tests” that target certain structures which are a good indicator of confirming a diagnosis. Once an understanding of your movement, and pain have been assessed, your physiotherapist will then look to examine certain areas such as the muscles and joints, to identify exactly where your pain is coming from.

What happens next?

After your physiotherapist has completed the initial physical examination they will explain exactly what is going on and the reason for the pain you are having. They will discuss the different treatment techniques and advice that will help you with your rehabilitation. Often, your physiotherapist will carry out some treatment after the physical examination, such soft tissue massage or joint mobilisations on your first visit to see how you respond.  You will also be given a few exercises and advice on things they would like you to do at home before your next appointment. Most often, people see physiotherapists on a weekly basis at first until they can manage their pain, then it might mean you only need to attend every couple of weeks or once a month to keep symptoms at bay. Eventually, as your pain settles you should be able to self-manage your symptoms with continuation of your home exercise programme and return to your normal activities/hobbies.

What should you wear to your first physiotherapy session?

During the physical examination, your physiotherapist will need to get to the problem area and direct treatment to this area if appropriate. It is advisable to wear a tank/strappy top or a top that is baggy enough to move out of the way; lower body, either shorts or jogging bottoms are a good idea. You may be asked by the physiotherapist to remove certain clothing but if you feel uncomfortable, just let your therapist know and they can work around this.