How to get the most out of seeing a physio

So you have decided to go an see a physiotherapist, hopefully, you read my last post about when to do this, or maybe you are still waiting for your doctor's referral... Either way, you are making the first step to addressing your issue. Congrats :) great decision!

Unfortunately, health and rehab is not straight forward, and there is no magic formula, quick fix, or guaranteed result by going to see a health professional like a physio, chiro, osteo, etc. Yes, all of these professions are excellent, and you are likely to do very well by going to see your chosen one, but it is not a passive process and there are cases that don't do as well as they should. You need to be involved and work to get the most out of your appointments and treatment plan. So here are my recommendations on how to get the most out of seeing a physio (or other professional).

  1. Communicate

Do not hold information back. The more information that you tell me about your symptoms, how they feel, their behavior, etc the better. Even if you don't think it is related, please tell me and let me make that decision with you. Tell me about your general health, your previous injuries, your previous rehab, and your hobbies, as well as your goals, timelines, and expectations for recovery.

I know you want to lie on the bed as quickly as possible for me to do some tests, but the more information you give me the more direct I can be with the tests, the more specific and the more accurate. It's interesting that I certainly find the clients that do not progress as well, are not able to give a good history of their symptoms to start with, or they don't see as giving the information as important. If you went to the doctor and said you felt unwell, there would be more questions so they can determine the best action to take. It is exactly the same in physiotherapy, and actually, if we do this questioning portion very well we should be able to diagnose and come up with a treatment plan before even doing any physical tests- these are just done to back up what we are already thinking! Side note- this is why virtual care works!

So prepare for your appointment, think about your symptoms and your history in advance so that it is easier to answer questions. I love it when clients will come in with a notebook of information for me!

2. Listen and ask questions.

The appointment is for you, not for me. Don't just let it pass by you and then get home without knowing what happened or what is going on. It is a bugbear of mine when I see a client who has recently been to another appointment and I ask them what they did -

Client: "I am not sure, they pushed around my hips and it hurt, then they suggested some exercises, but I only remember one of them"

Me: OK and what are you working on with them?

Client: "I can't remember what they said".

That doesn't sound productive right? I will guarantee you those are the same people that after 2-3 sessions are frustrated that they are not getting any better...

Ask questions. Be engaged. Learn. Clarify.

3) Negotiate the plan- rehab is a 2-way relationship.

There should be a very clear treatment plan in place for you. Hopefully, it is in place after the first appointment, but sometimes it may take 2-3 if your symptoms are complex in any way. The plan is a guideline for how you will get better and should be flexible and constantly adapted or modified based on how you are doing. It is not set in stone.

With this being said, you can negotiate the plan! You are the one who has to carry it out, it needs to be realistic for you.

Don't agree to an hour of exercise every day if you are not going to do it.

If you can't come for physiotherapy treatment for a few weeks- let me know so that I can adjust the plan for that.

If the recommendation is to take a short time away from an activity (eg 2 weeks off running) but you have an event you want to do this week first (eg a race you are looking forward to), let's find a way for you to be able to do that if it is safe to do and then have the rest period afterward.

There are lots of options, but only if we discuss them.

4) Have a positive mindset

Easier said than done, and I will do my utmost to bring positivity to your rehab and situation.

In the world of research, there is a regular association between expectations and outcomes.

More positive expectations lead towards more positive outcomes in a range of conditions

We understand that what you are going through is painful, frustrating, horrible, disappointing, tiring, etc etc. But the likelihood is you will get better, and having a positive mindset will certainly help with that.

5) Follow the instructions and be honest.

If you didn't do your home exercises or try any of our suggestions, don't tell us you did. We need to know how you have responded to your treatment, if you haven't done it very much we can't see how effective it is... what if you said you did it (but didn't) and we decide it's not working and change the strategy to something else- but actually the first strategy was right and now you are doing something else?! Tell us that you didn't do it and let's find out why and make some changes to it so that you do do it!

6) Communicate

Just communicate with us at all times 🙂 It really helps.

Now go and get the most out of your sessions and don't be a statistic that doesn't get better :).

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