Choosing a physiotherapist is not easy! A physiotherapist is someone you can trust, someone who will listen to you, understand your problem and also your goals. As you could possibly be spending a lot of money on your treatment, you will also want someone who will give you value for your money and be honest with you about the amount of treatment needed and how long they could go on for.
Fortunately, most therapists are honest and trustworthy and at Find-a-Physio we only have Chartered, Health and Care professions registered physiotherapists working in the clinics we list on the website. You can be assured that you will receive the best care available.
Physiotherapy is a three-year, university degree course. There are accelerated two-year courses for those who already have a relevant qualification, for example, Sports Therapy but both options still require a student to complete a minimum number of clinical hours (time spent with patients) before qualification.
Once qualified, a physiotherapist is a safe and effective practitioner in many areas but as a ‘Junior Physiotherapist’ they may not have the specialised knowledge required to treat complex cases. This knowledge is gained in the first few years of practice, often in a rotational scheme within a hospital or practice, which allows experience in many different clinical areas.
How Do I Know If A Physio Is What They Claim?
All physiotherapists have to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before they can call themselves a physiotherapist or practise as one. This is a legal obligation and you can check whether someone is on the register by searching the HCPC database. www.hcpc-uk.co.uk
The HCPC has the duty to regulate this and many other professions, excluding doctors and dentists who have their own regulatory bodies. The HCPC investigates complaints, takes action against individuals who have violated the rules and ensures the continuing competence of practitioners.
The vast majority of physiotherapists belong to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy: our professional and representative body. However, this is NOT a legal requirement so your physio may still practice without becoming a member.
What Kind Of Physio Is Best For Me?
The answer here is similar as for doctors: If you have a kidney problem, you don’t book in to see an knee specialist. Find-a-Physio feel it is worth narrowing your search down to the therapists with the specific areas of expertise which suit your problem. You will find this in the ‘About Us’ and ‘Treatment’ sections on a clinics profile.
However, for more general problems, most physiotherapists will be able to carry out an appropriate assessment and treatment plan. You may wish to seek the expertise of a specialist for the following issues:
- If you are a high-level sports person or have a specialised need, such as rehabilitation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. For cases such as this, it would be worth finding a practice who routinely manage such conditions.
- For pregnancy or incontinence problems; there are physios who specialise in women’s health.
- If you have a complex musculoskeletal problem that has not seen any improvement after previous attempts at treatment, you could look for a therapist with MACP (Manipulation Association of Chartered Physiotherapists) or M.Sc. Manual Therapy qualifications. Both of these qualifications involve masters degrees and practitioners in these fields are highly skilled.
- If you have a long-term pain problem which has been extensively investigated and treated without much success, a physio specialising in pain management might be the best choice. They usually work as part of a team and a review by the Pain Management Clinic in your local hospital would be a good first step.
A Good Physiotherapy Clinic
There are a whole series of checks you can make as you go through the process of making and attending an appointment. You should feel comfortable the whole way through and feel you know what is going on. This starts with the reception welcome and the efficiency and accuracy of the booking process.
- Your therapist should greet you, introduce themselves and give you an overview of how the appointment is going to unfold. There will be the subjective examination where you will tell your story and respond to the questions of the therapist.
- This is followed by the objective examination, where your therapist will look at the part of your body suffering from the problem. Generally, you will need to remove at least some of your clothes for the physical examination. If you have a neck problem, you will need to remove your upper body clothing and for a lower back pain problem, you will need to remove lower body clothing also. You should feel very comfortable during this process. If you would prefer a female or male therapist please inform the clinic before you book in.
- After the examination is completed, your therapist should give you a working diagnosis and the kind of treatment they have in mind with some idea of how long that should go on for. Once you consent, the treatment can go ahead. It is important for you to understand what the aim of the treatment is and why various techniques are being used.
Most physiotherapists are very communicative and friendly so it is likely that the whole process will be as described.