So, you’ve made the decision you need a physio, so, where do you start? This post will hopefully give you some helpful hints and tips on getting it right, first time.
As with most services, there is nothing more powerful than a word of mouth recommendation. There is no guarantee of course, that just because your auntie/ friend/ spouse improved, you will, but the service they received should have been a positive one. People generally base a recommendation not just on outcome, but on overall experience, and this could include anything from ease of contacting, personality of the physio, treatments used and of course, the end result! Physiotherapist is a protected title (in other words, you can’t just call yourself a physiotherapist), so they should be chartered and registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC). BUPA recognition is also a good way to check your physio is up to date, as they have strict guidelines and criteria before a physio is one of their providers.
For the best will in the world, if someone has recommended a physio and they are 40 miles away from you, this may not be the best way forward, particularly if you have an acute problem – spending a long time sitting/ travelling may well outweigh and benefit received from treatment.
Have an idea of how far you’d be happy to travel, and this may depend on your own symptoms/ how complex they are/ how long you have had the problem/ previous response to treatment including physio. Some of our patients are local to Durham but we have a significant number of patients who travel 30 miles by train or car to attend treatment. Your choice of physio may depend on the service or treatment you require.
All physios treat the same things don’t they? Yes and no! Most ‘neuromusculoskeletal’ (a long term but essentially includes anything to do with the muscular, neural and bony systems so anything to do with spine/ joints/ ligaments/ muscles/ fascia/ nerve) physiotherapists will be familiar and regularly treat all things spinal/ pain/ sports injuries/ work related issues. However, some may be more ‘expert’ than others. Some physios will have more experience treating your particular problem, some will do acupuncture/ craniosacral/ occupational health/ rehabilitation, some will have access or work alongside other health care professionals and services. Some may be relatively newly qualified, some may have years of experience. The key here is, is your physio up to date with training and courses? Do they have good manual/ hands on skills as well as using other modalities of treatment? You’d hope someone who is 10 years post grad they’d be good, but if they’ve not done a course for 4 years, not read a journal, and not kept up to date with their CPD (continuing professional development) then they may not be the physio for you.)
You need to make your decision on what is right for your particular problem, and if you can’t decide, ideally ring and speak to a physio – a conversation is a great way and usually the quickest way to guage if this physio is the right choice for you. Be patient, if they don’t ring you straight back, they are probably treating patients! But if you’re waiting 2 days for them to return a call or email, they don’t deserve your business (in my opinion!!)
Most of us will do our own research before we decide to buy into a product or service, and physio is no different. This is a good place to check they are registered with the HPC.
What is parking like? How quickly can you get an appointment and are different times of day offered? Would you prefer to be seen by a male or female physio?
Check out their website and social media presence – this can give you a lot of information on a number of factors, but should also give you patient reviews/ testimonials which can be helpful in making your decision.
5. Initial appointment
So, you’ve decided on your physio, you’ve made your appointment and today is your initial assessment. What should you expect?
Interaction, and connection with your physio is everything – whether it’s a baby with colic, a middle aged golfer with low back pain, a triathlete with acute shoulder pain after an event, or a 75 year old recovering from knee surgery, you need to feel, and know, that your physio ‘gets you’, you need to have confidence in them, and their technical ability. They need to be personable, natural and have a friendly manner that is genuine and honest. You should be doing most of the talking. I always try and let patients ‘tell their story’ and only interject at certain points. The information gained from listening to you will help form a ‘ hypothesis’ of at least 2 or 3 things your problem could be, and the examination should help to prove or disprove that theory.
Thereafter, a plan should be made between you and the physio, based on YOUR goals and YOUR expectations, not the physio’s, and progress should be made, depending on your prognosis ( that’s for another discussion, on another day! ).. GOOD LUCK!!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope it helps you find the right physio, for you.
My name is Vicky Smith, and together with my husband Mark, we are Taylored-fit Physio, if you’d like to know more please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org