When Not to See a Physiotherapist

As physiotherapists, our primary goal is to help people to recover from injury, or to maximise their performance on the sports field. Physiotherapists are both accessible, affordable, and highly trained primary care practitioners. With thousands of people turning to physiotherapy, due to long waits at the GP, it’s inevitable that we are seeing an increasing number of injuries presenting for treatment.

It’s also important to remind people that physiotherapists are just one choice for patients, and if you suffer a serious injury, you need to get it assessed as an emergency in hospital.

Acute injuries may need X-rays

Patients who suffer with an acute or traumatic injury should consider going first to their local A&E, or minor injuries unit. For example, a sports injury where you have been tackled badly, and unable to weight bear through a joint. Or you have fallen badly and injured your shoulder. Acute and traumatic injuries such as these are best dealt with by the minor injuries unit. Patients need to be aware of the red flags, for example, the pain is waking you up at night, you have severe swelling or bruising around a joint or body part, the pain is uncontrollable, or you have difficulty weight bearing. Also if you have back pain with changes in bowel or bladder control, this is a more serious sign, and its best to bypass the physiotherapist and get more urgent medical attention. These types of problems are best dealt with at the minor injuries unit where they have the facilities to X-ray you.

Physiotherapists do a physical examination to screen you for serious problems, but if we are in doubt, we can refer for x-rays and MRI scans at your local hospital. If a physio is not getting improvement within 4 treatments, they will usually refer you for a second opinion, or a scan. We won’t treat you unnecessarily, and only treat you if you are improving with the treatment.

Physiotherapy is a fantastic profession that helps millions of people each year recover and rehabilitate from injuries, but patients with serious or acute injuries should first go to get urgent medical attention before seeing a physiotherapist for rehabilitation.

Should you require a physiotherapy appointment, call us on 0208 685 6930 and book your appointment with one of our qualified physios.