So, you are injured, experiencing pain and dysfunction, and you have considered or been suggested to see a physiotherapist. You’ve never been to a physiotherapist, or you have, and you didn’t quite “click” with your therapist. How do you go about finding a new physiotherapist? What does a physiotherapist do? What should you be looking for? And what are the non-negotiables to a good therapeutic alliance? I am glad you asked.
I am a physiotherapist and have written the ultimate guide to help you choose your new therapist! This list isn’t all-inclusive, but it will provide you with the fundamental criteria for searching for and choosing the best physiotherapist who aligns with your goals, expectations, and needs. Here goes:
Find someone you are comfortable with.
A physiotherapist is there to diagnose and help you understand your physical ailments, develop a tailored management plan, and guide you through your rehabilitation process. The diagnostic process should consider when your injury occurred, how it happened and why it occurred. This means your physiotherapist will ask you a LOT of questions to try and understand you and your injury, what it means for you, and what needs to occur to get you recovered.
Finding a physiotherapist whom you feel comfortable talking with is paramount! The diagnostic process will also involve some hands-on assessment by your physiotherapist to test things like the range of motion of your joints, strength of your muscles, and special tests to help rule out specific conditions. It is also important that you approach a physiotherapist whom you feel comfortable with during the assessment process.
Knowledge is power, and so is finding a physiotherapist who can explain the issue, why it came to be, and how it can be solved.
Understanding your injury is empowering and can give you the agency and self-efficacy to manage your pain and dysfunction. This is important because your physiotherapist cannot be with you 24/7! If you want to know how to tell if your physiotherapist is good, observe how they respond to your questions. A good physiotherapist will answer your questions in detail, satisfy your curiosity, and actively involve you in the rehabilitation process is key!
Some physiotherapists will specialise in certain areas of the body, specific demographics, particular sports, or different types of conditions.
It is not always necessary to find a specialist physiotherapist, though it may be of value to seek out a therapist who has experience with your injury. For example, women with pelvic pain may benefit from seeking a women’s health physiotherapist. An intermediate runner might benefit from seeing a sports physiotherapist with a special interest in running. At the same time, a patient with a cardiorespiratory condition may seek out a cardiorespiratory physiotherapist.
Quite often, you can seek a recommendation from your general practitioner. It is worth contacting a preferred clinic and discussing with them who may be the most appropriate physiotherapist in the clinic for you rather than choosing a therapist out of mere convenience or availability.
The most experienced physiotherapist is not always the best physiotherapist for you!
This is a crucial factor when asking yourself how to choose a physiotherapist. With age comes experience, but with youth comes innovation, new knowledge, and curiosity. Physiotherapy is an ever-changing field of allied health, and staying up to date with the most current research is important. Clinical expertise is precious, though it is more important to find a therapist who challenges themselves to learn continually, challenge the status quo, and always strive to provide the best quality care.
Physiotherapists, depending on their clinical experience, competition for further education, and school of thought, will offer different therapeutic interventions.
Find a physiotherapist who can provide you with a service that meets your expectations, whether that is that you would like hands-on therapy, dry needling, exercise therapy, mobilisation and manipulation, quality education and self-management strategies or access to specific assessment and treatment equipment, such as hydrotherapy or Pilates equipment.
Physiotherapists have a toolbox of treatment modalities, some of which work for some and not for others. Your expectations should be considered when it comes to developing a tailored management plan, so it is important to find someone who is able to meet those expectations. However, a physiotherapist is more than just a clinician who administers a treatment, so be willing to find a therapist who may challenge your expectations and offer you evidence-based rehabilitation.
Accessibility is important, but convenience should not be the only consideration.
Your physiotherapist will appropriately schedule review consultations with you depending on the type of treatment you are receiving, how much assistance you need with managing your injury, and how often your management plan needs to be reviewed and progressed. Finding a physiotherapist who is accessible and affordable is important, but this should not come at the expense of quality care. Keep this in mind when typing “best physiotherapist near me” on your favourite browser.
So, there you have it. A foundational list of considerations on how to find a good physiotherapist! Everyone’s ideal therapist is very different and unique to their goals, expectations, and needs. A great therapeutic relationship with your physiotherapist paves the way for excellent clinical outcomes. You best be on your way to finding the therapist for you!
Blog by Brittany Romas – PhysioChoice Hampton Victoria.
Link to her online bio: https://www.physiochoice.com.au/hampton
Brittany holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Master of Physiotherapy from La Trobe University. She is currently studying for her Masters of Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy at La Trobe University.
She is an avid powerlifter and has a strong interest in strength conditioning, acute sports injuries, and occupational-related conditions. Brittany has spent time in South East Asia working with paediatric patients with a large range of neurological disorders; she has developed a keen interest in providing disability support in conjunction with the NDIS.
Brittany believes in a holistic approach to her client’s rehabilitation and treatments, including Hydrotherapy, Dry Needling and Clinical Pilates.