These Frequently Asked Questions contain general information only and do not take into account your personal health, fitness or wellbeing circumstances, needs or objectives. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement by Avaana and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare, fitness or wellbeing professional. All site users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their health, fitness and wellbeing questions.
What does a physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists are trained medical professionals with experience in diagnosing physical ailments, restoring and maintaining physical function and mobility, and promoting physical wellbeing.
In addition to treating injury and disease, physiotherapists often educate patients on how to effectively use movement aid devices such as walking frames, callipers, splints, crutches, or wheelchairs. They may also teach patients at-home-exercises and prevention strategies for injuries. Physiotherapists also develop and implement fitness and wellness programs.
What is the difference between a physiotherapist and a chiropractor?
Physiotherapists and chiropractors both aim to treat similar conditions but tend to have different approaches. Both practices treat joint and musculosketal problems by reducing pain, improving movement, and enhancing strength. Chiropractic treatments predominantly focus on realigning joints through physical manipulation. Physiotherapists, on the other hand, reduce pain and restore movement with manipulation and massage techniques, electrical treatments, and are more focussed on physical exercises.
For this reason, Chiropractic treatment is seen more as reactive and instant for short term body complaints, whereas Physiotherapy requires more of a long term commitment to gain permanent benefits.
Should I take my issue to a physiotherapist or a chiropractor?
We understand that choosing the right type of healthcare in Sydney can be a bit confusing when dealing with musculosketal pain or illness. There are many options to choose from. As a general rule, a chiropractor should be consulted for relief from stiff, locked, or sore joints, often that have arisen out of a short term movement or injury, whereas a physiotherapist is more appropriate to consult for relief from soft tissue pain or muscular issues that may be the result of long term issues.
If you are still unsure whether to you should see a physiotherapist or a chiropractor, consult your general healthcare practitioner for advice.
What are some common physiotherapy treatment techniques?
Your treatment will be conducted in according to your specific health requirements. Your physiotherapist will choose from a wide range of suitable therapies, includingjoint manipulation, acupuncture, soft tissue mobilization, and hydrotherapy. Physiotherapists are also trained to use a range of treatment devices such as ultrasound, electrotherapy, and heat and ice packs.
What other services do physiotherapy clinics offer?
It is common for physiotherapy clinics to offer a range of related services, including:
- Acupuncture: the careful insertion of small needles into pressure points of the body.
- Massage Therapy: hands-on manipulation of soft tissue in order to reduce muscle tension, and facilitate healing with improved circulation.
- Customised Orthotics: an item that can be inserted into your shoe to support and align your foot to address poor patterns of walking, flat feet or arches, and imbalances between your feet.
- Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS): the use of small needles that can release or lengthen muscles that are causing chronic pain.
- Dry Needling: this involves inserting multiple filament needles into problematic muscle areas to stiffness or movement issues.
What types of issues typically require physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for a range of conditions from sports injuries, to shoulder and back pain, to post-surgery recovery. Some conditions that can benefit from physiotherapy include:
- Sports-related injuries: to rehabilitate and strengthen muscle groups in order to get you back into your sport
- Musculosketal dysfunction: such as back and shoulder pain
- Cardiopulmonary conditions: this includes cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Neurological conditions that impair movement: this can include stroke, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
- Pain associated with osteoporosis.
- Women’s health and pelvic floor dysfunction: this can include urinary incontinence, lymphedema, and also pregnancy back pain.
How long do physiotherapy sessions last?
The length of a session can vary dependant on the nature of the issue and the general state of your health. A typical physiotherapy session lasts for 30 to 45 minutes. The first consultation however can last for up to and over an hour as they assess your history, pains, exercise lifestyle, and movement abilities.
What will happen in my first physiotherapy consultation?
The first consultation with your Sydney physiotherapist will involve investigating your medical history, your current issues or pains, and general musculoskeletal health. This initial session may be longer than follow-up sessions and can last for up to an hour and a half.
The physio will begin your consultation with an interview to thoroughly understand your lifestyle, symptoms, and medical history. They will then conduct a physical examination of your condition. This may include an evaluation of your posture, muscular, joint, and nerve strength, mobility and flexibility.
The results of this assessment and history will be considered to diagnose what condition, if any, you are facing. With this information, your physiotherapist will prescribe and discuss a treatment plan for your needs.
You may receive treatment during your initial consultation, and tryout some of the prescribed exercises to get a feel for how you should be moving through them at home or in a gym, and if there are any struggles or concerns with the movements. They will then schedule a follow-up consultation with you to track your progress and if necessary, alter your treatment.
How many follow up physio appointments will I need?
The frequency of physiotherapy visits you will need often depends on how long you have suffered from your complaint or injury, in addition to the severity of your injury, your age, and overall body condition. Ask your physiotherapist how many follow-up sessions they expect you will need, and when they presume you will begin feeling improvements.
Do I need a GP’s referral to see a physiotherapist?
You will not need a GP’s referral in order to have an appointment with a physiotherapist. You may make an appointment directly at any time you like in Australia. If you are suffering from any work-related injury or vehicle accident and plan to claim rebates from an insurer, then you will require a referral and should speak with the insurer about their requirements and process.
What should I bring to my physiotherapy appointment? What should I wear?
It is best to wear loose comfortable clothing that does not restrict your range of motion. In most cases, complaints about the back, shoulders or knees will require that you remove certain clothing to properly review your condition.
Bring any important medical records such as x-ray or ultrasound results you may have with you to the appointment.
If you have a sports related injury, it is recommend that you bring playing shoes or boots with you so that your physiotherapist can determine whether they could cause further harm.
Will my physiotherapy session be covered by Medicare?
You can only claim a physio rebate through Medicare if you have been referred by your doctor under the Chronic Disease Management Program. This cover caters to individuals with terminal or chronic medical conditions.
Will the physiotherapist treat me in a private space?
Each session with your physiotherapist will be in a private room and your care will be confidential. If treatments (like hydrotherapy) require public spaces, your physiotherapist will discuss this with you before your appointment.
In some cases your physio will ask you to remove certain clothing to better assess your issue. Remember to mention if this would be uncomfortable for you and other arrangements can be made.
Will the physiotherapist give me self-management strategies?
Ongoing self-management of movement and exercise can be critical in the treatment and success of many musculosketal conditions. Your physiotherapist will discuss how you can treat your condition at home by educating you on prevention and exercise strategies. This may include certain lifestyle changes, postures, and regular exercise regimes.
Do physiotherapists allow walk-in appointments?
Although some physiotherapists may accept walk-ins, initial sessions typically take over an hour so to avoid disappointment we recommend booking in advance. If you can no longer attend your scheduled appoint, remember to cancel with at least 24 hours if possible to avoid potential cancellation fees.
What qualifications should a physiotherapist have in Brisbane?
Your physiotherapist should be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. This will ensure their qualifications are verified, and that they will abide by the registers Code of Conduct and Standards of Practice. Physiotherapists have to have completed a tertiary physiotherapy qualification such as a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in Australia.