Some of the things you can expect when you go to your first physiotherapy assessment:

· You should see a physio before the pain gets worse
· The area of concern will be assessed, so dress appropriately
· You will be asked questions about the injury
· A physical assessment testing the strength and flexibility as well as the level of pain will be carried out

The first thing to do is to book an initial assessment with a physiotherapist before the pain gets worse.

It is important to wear comfortable, loose clothing. You can bring clothes to change into for the appointment if needed. There are shorts available at the physio if you forget to pack something suitable for the assessment.

If the area of concern is your neck, shoulder injury, or back, you may be asked to remove your shirt so the physiotherapist can look at your posture, joints, and muscles. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, there are towels that can help to cover up a little. It is advisable to wear a strappy top under your clothes if you feel uncomfortable taking your top off.

If it is your 1st time at the physiotherapy practice, please arrive 10 minutes early for your appointment so that you can fill out the necessary forms.

The subjective assessment

Most of your first session will be an in-depth discussion to find out more information about your current problem. This will include taking a full medical history as well so that you can be assessed holistically. This part of the session is called the subjective assessment.

Questions that may be asked include:

· The area of pain, how did it happen, when did it happen, was it an injury or a gradual onset
· Have you had any further investigations or treatment for this condition
· What aggravates and eases the condition
· How is this affecting your life (social, physical, emotional)
· What are your hobbies, sport and work

A full medical history along with current medication will need to be discussed to check if your current problem may be linked to an existing condition. This will also impact what advice is given regarding recovery times and physiotherapy intervention. This will assist in determining your goals and expectations for physiotherapy treatment and management.

The Objective Assessment

The next part of the assessment is to physically assess your injury. This is called the objective assessment. You will be asked to perform various relevant movements and your pain levels, joint movement and muscle activation will be assessed. Some special movement tests may be performed to fully assess the problem area. Some of these tests may be a little painful. It is important to keep channels of communication open with the physiotherapist so that she can optimise your session. This part of the assessment, along with the subjective examination will assist the physiotherapist to effectively diagnose the injury. This will also determine whether a specialist referral is necessary. A key aim for your physio is to get to the root cause of your pain efficiently, so that you can begin the recovery process as soon as possible. Once a hypothesis regarding the injury has been established, you can ask questions such as “How long do you think it will take to get better?”, “When can I return to sport?” A treatment plan will be proposed based on your goals.

Your session will end off with receiving some clinically and research-based treatment techniques. This may include soft tissue release, joint mobilisations, neural mobilisations, postural advice, exercise prescription, advice and education to name a few. Your physiotherapist will explain what she is doing and what she is hoping to achieve through the various techniques used. If you are unsure or uncomfortable, it is important that you voice your concerns to the physiotherapist. It is vital that you take part in the rehabilitation process for optimal results. Ultimately your physiotherapist will empower you to achieve your goals.

It is normal to feel a little tender after a physiotherapy treatment, but this should not last longer than a day or so.

How many physio appointments will you need to attend?

This varies greatly from person to person, but generally the sooner you get an injury seen to, the quicker the recovery. Often, we see people weeks or even months after the injury occurred. This can delay the recovery process. There are a few factors that influence the recovery period: which structure is affected, the extent of injury to this structure, how long you’ve had the injury/symptoms, your fitness level prior to the injury, your lifestyle and how good you are at following the treatment plan and home programme.  

Your physiotherapist will discuss time frames with you during your assessment. This is a very individual topic and very specific to various factors.            

Most often, people see physiotherapists on a weekly basis at first until they can manage their pain, then it might mean you only need to attend every couple of weeks or once a month to keep symptoms at bay. Eventually, as your pain settles you should be able to self-manage your symptoms with continuation of your home exercise programme and return to your normal activities/hobbies.

For more information or to book an appointment a physiotherapist in Durban, please call  031 563 1314 or email



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