Tips to get the most from your physiotherapy treatment

How to Get the BEST Results from Physiotherapy Treatment

There are many reasons why you may be seeking treatment with a Physiotherapist.  You could have woken up with a stiff neck, had a fall or an accident, strained your back or your knees while doing some work around the house.  Physiotherapists assess and treat a wide variety of conditions and injuries.  Knowing who to see and how to get the most out of your treatment session is important to ensure that you feel your best.

Taking care of yourself is an investment.  The cost to you may depend on what kind of benefit package you have or whether your injury is related to a work injury or a car accident.  No matter the situation, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your physiotherapy treatment plan of care.

5 Top Tips to be Successful with Physiotherapy Treatment

1.  Come prepared to your physiotherapy treatment session.

On your first visit you may want to arrive early to fill out intake forms or to provide insurance information to allow the administrative staff to set up direct billing for you.  Check in to your plan about what your available coverage is.  It will differ depending on the plan.

Make sure to wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to move with ease.  Your Physiotherapist will ask you to move your body to assess functional movement, range of motion and strength to get an understanding of what is going on.  It is also important to see the injured body part, so wear appropriate clothing to allow that to happen.  For example, if it is your knee that is injured, make sure to bring shorts or wear pants that can be pulled up well past your knee,  If it is your shoulder to be assessed, you might want to consider wearing a tank top.  You get the idea.

2. Communicate openly with your Physiotherapist

It is important to tell your story to your Physiotherapist.  While what’s important to you is that your shoulder is injured or that you have lower back pain, your physiotherapist will need more information to understand what the underlying cause might be.  Perhaps someone has already told you that you have some degenerative changes on an x-ray or MRI or that there is a rotator cuff tear.  That information alone is not enough information for the physiotherapist to establish a good treatment plan specific to you.  In fact, the imaging is not even necessary to have for the physiotherapist to understand your problem and create a treatment plan.

Some of the things your Physiotherapist is going to want to know.....

  • How did your pain start?
  • If you don't know when, why or how it started, what might have been different in your life in the days/weeks/months leading up to the injury or onset of pain? Were you doing more or less?  Or different activities?
  • How is the pain or injury impacting your life?
  • What are you having difficulty doing and what are the activities that aggravate the symptoms?
  • What are the things you have already discovered that make you feel really good?

This information will help your Physiotherapist direct the physical assessment and create a really good picture of what is going on and what the underlying problem might be

Once you have started treatment, it is very important to keep those communication lines open. Let your physiotherapist know how you feel when doing any exercises they have prescribed or how you felt during or after any hands on treatment sessions.  This information will help your Physiotherapist understand your tolerance to movement and activity and how to progress your treatment plan in the future.  It is possible that after a session, particularly after the initial assessment, when you went through a variety of different movements, that pain could increase.  This is really important information to share with your Physiotherapist.  They will use this information in future treatment planning.  Don't just assume that it means that physiotherapy isn’t for you!

3.  Set goals with your Physiotherapist

It is important to be clear on what your goals are.  What is it that you want to get out of your physiotherapy treatment sessions.  Most people might ask - Isn’t that obvious?  I want to have less pain or no pain!  

But think about what that really means for you?  If you have less pain, what will that mean that you are able to do more comfortably or able to return to doing?  Does it mean that you can walk for a half hour or go up and down the stairs comfortably.  Perhaps it means you are not afraid to pick up your child or grandchild.  Maybe it means that you can return to your sport.  

Being specific about what you want to achieve will make it easier to see how you are improving and for your physiotherapist to set up a treatment program that is really specific to your needs.

4.  Commit to your physiotherapy treatment plan

While you may feel your physiotherapist has “magic hands”, it is also really important to do the homework they give you.  If your physiotherapist is including manual therapy techniques in their treatment plan, they should also be providing you with a home program of movements or exercises that support their treatment in clinic.  It may not need to be a long laundry list of exercises but a few key ones that will help to reduce pain or restore mobility - whatever the primary need is.

Making time to do the exercises is very important, and quite honestly likely more important than the treatment provided in clinic a few times per week.  You have the opportunity to do these self care movements more often than your in clinic treatment sessions which will lead to reaching your physiotherapy goals.

5.  Be persistent and patient with your physiotherapy treatment plan

Remember that it takes time to make changes, not just changes in your habits, but changes to the tissues in your body.  You may be very fortunate and see a resolution of symptoms within a few visits.  But if even if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you should give up on your treatment plan.  You should, however, see some changes as you progress through your treatment plan.  If you are not seeing improvements,  talk to your physiotherapist about the plan of care. 

Your lack of progress could due to a few factors…

  • You are not doing the exercises often enough
  • You are doing the exercises or movements too much!  (Yes - more is not always better!)
  • The exercises are not being done correctly
  • The exercises are not the right ones for you and need to be modified or changed completely
  • You just need a bit more time to see change

This is where that communication with your Physiotherapist is important!

Talk about the impact or lack of impact on your symptoms and progress towards your goal.  Your physiotherapy treatment plan will need to change over time based on how you are doing.  Don’t just give up and assume this is not working for you.  Your physiotherapist will have a big bag of different tools to help you.  Work together to find the right tools for you.

Physiotherapy can have such a positive impact on your ability to move well, live well and be well. 

Our experienced team of Physiotherapists at Fit for Life Physiotherapy will work WITH you to help you meet your goals and to be Fit for Life!