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  • Writer's picturePiotr Karcinski

First Physiotherapy appointment - what to expect, how to prepare and what awaits you.

As probably many people, you are struggling with musculoskeletal problems such as pain, stiffness and similar, and after a long, or, I hope, shorter time you have come to the conclusion that it is time to see a specialist. Perhaps you do not know what to expect, how to prepare and what awaits you. To help you avoid unnecessary stress I have written the following post.

It is worth to be on time for the first and subsequent appointments! It will not always be possible to extend the appointment, because the next patient may be already waiting. Every minute of being late might result in an incomplete history being taken, examination cut short, the therapist will have to hurry and may make a wrong diagnosis.

Depending on the clinic, the process may vary slightly, although the first appointment always consists of an initial examination and a treatment session if possible. Many patients who have not seen a physiotherapist before expect immediate tissue work without "wasting time" on conversations. It is true that taking your medical history and examination take a lot of time, but even leaving aside legal requirements, it gives us a basis to diagnose the problem and determine how we can help.

During the initial examination and subsequent treatments, it will be necessary to uncover the painful area for assessment and comparison with the healthy side. I emphasise that only what is necessary must be exposed. For your own comfort, bring a change of shorts with you and for ladies, a vest type top or/and a sports bra.

Before the session begins, the therapist will introduce themselves and briefly describe what the session will look like, then it will be necessary to fill out the personal data and consent forms - it is necessary for legal reasons.

After completing the formalities, there will be time for taking your history. During one appointment you should focus on one area, the one that causes you most problems. The therapist will ask a number of questions, such as about in what situation the pain appeared for the first time (often the patient does not remember the specific situation, although it could be a change in everyday activities or a new activity), the nature of pain, severity, changes within 24 hours, daily habits and pain management strategies. For people who are worried that they might forget something, it may be useful to write it on a piece of paper.

Then questions about medical history come next, they are necessary because many of the complaints have their roots in past injuries. Some diseases / health problems require a special approach or are even a contraindication to physiotherapy. It is also worth bringing a list of current medications you take, it will you save time during your session.

Ultrasound, X-ray, MRI results - if possible, please provide copies of descriptions in a paper form, as not all computers are fast enough / have appropriate software to work with results on CDs.

After the history, it is time for the physical examination, in which the therapist is able to make a preliminary diagnosis and present a treatment plan after assessing the posture, scope and quality of the movement, special tests and palpation. Each patient has the right to refuse all or part of the proposed treatment, although this will affect its effects.

The last part of the first appointment, if time permits, is the initial therapy session using techniques aimed at alleviating pain symptoms / improving the patient's condition in accordance with the diagnosis as well as presenting strategies for the time between the sessions. The proper treatment will begin during the next session. It is important to be aware that although you may feel much better after the first session, it is a process in which we help your body regenerate / work with loads more efficiently, and this requires time.

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