what to expect at your first physiotherapy appointment

What is physiotherapy?

You may be a self-referrer for physiotherapy or you may have been referred via your GP, Consultant, employer or insurance company. Physiotherapy can treat most of the areas in your body and can be beneficial if you have musculoskeletal pain or nerve problems. Physiotherapy can help control and reduce pain, strengthen weak areas and help loosen stiff areas. Therefore, treatment can aid post-operative rehabilitation, sports injuries, back pain and many other conditions.

What happens at the initial assessment?

Your initial consultation and treatment will last 45 minutes and any follow up will be 30 minutes. At your initial consultation your physiotherapist will ask you lots of questions about your symptoms, including any previous medical problems and any medication you may be taking so they can make an informed diagnosis.

They will then ask to assess the problem area. To assess you properly the treating physiotherapist will need to observe the affected area(s) and this will normally require you to remove an appropriate level of clothing (but never your underwear).  Be prepared to remove upper garments for neck, upper back or shoulder problems and for lower limb (leg) problems, to remove lower garments. Please bring a pair of shorts to the assessment with you if you need to remove lower garments.  We always have clean shorts available at Roundwood if you wish to borrow some.  Just ask your physiotherapist. For people with lower back pain, it is important that your physiotherapist can see the whole of your spine and legs, or problems contributing to your symptoms may not be picked up.

Please let your physiotherapist know at any time during your consultation if you feel unhappy exposing any part of your body. At any time, prior or during the assessment you can ask for it to be stopped.  You are welcome and encouraged to ask any questions so you remain fully informed at all times.

According to your wishes the assessment can be modified. After you have been assessed, your physiotherapist will tell you what problems they feel are contributing to your symptoms and propose a plan for treatment. Your physiotherapist will explain their reasoning for the proposed treatment plan, giving you options for going forward with treatment. An example of a treatment plan may include “hands on treatment” or an individual exercise programme.  Although many of the treatment techniques that a physiotherapist use and suggest are unlikely to worsen your symptoms, some may result in some temporary soreness.

Other procedures such as acupuncture and manipulative therapy can carry some risks –  your physiotherapist should offer potential benefits, risks and alternatives. Your decision whether to agree to treatment (or not) will not impact upon your care in any way. Once you have given your consent further appointments will then be arranged, at a time convenient to you, wherever possible, to allow you to continue with your treatment.

What am I agreeing to?

Unless you have given your consent, your physiotherapist will not begin any form of objective assessment or treatment. Consent may be given verbally or maybe required in writing for some procedures such as acupuncture.   Before saying ‘yes’ to any part of your assessment and/or treatment, you need to feel fully informed about what you are agreeing to. It is your responsibility to let your physiotherapist know if you have any reservations or unanswered questions about the proposed treatment. Your physiotherapist will make sure you understand all your treatment options and will answer any question that you ask regarding your treatment plan.

What might the treatment plan involve?

Treatment offered may include a mixture of acupuncture, manual therapy, ultrasound and soft tissue work. In addition, it is likely that your physiotherapist will give you some exercises and advice to do at home to assist your recovery.

How many sessions will I need?

Your physiotherapist will give you some indication of expected recovery times after your initial assessment. Generally speaking, if you do not feel an improvement after 5 treatment sessions, your physiotherapist may discuss with you about further options at that stage. If you have had your symptoms for a long period or if you have had surgery then some conditions can take longer than others to resolve. If your physiotherapist doesn’t think they can help you with your symptoms, they will explain why and may contact your GP or other healthcare professional with your consent.

What happens at the end of my treatment plan?

If you have been referred to us via an insurance company, your GP or Consultant your physiotherapist will make every effort to inform them of your progress during treatment and may send update reports as requested. When your treatment has completed a final report will be sent to your referrer indicating what treatment you have undergone and the outcome of these treatments subject to your explicit consent.

Can I bring someone with me to my appointment?

Yes, you can, and they are welcome with your consent to stay with you while you have your assessment and treatment. Roundwood Health Clinic do operate a chaperone policy with prior arrangement.

Can I see my health records?

Yes you can request your records at any time by writing to the practice manager of Roundwood Health Clinic.  We will need to speak with the physiotherapist to obtain their consent regarding any opinions in the notes before we can release them to yourself. Your physiotherapist will be able to explain the procedure for doing this to you.

If I wish to make a complaint, how would I do this?

If you have any concerns regarding your physiotherapist or treatment then please speak directly with the practice manager or a director who will work to resolve matters.  If your complaint is not resolved please do write to us and we will respond to you directly:

The Directors

Roundwood Health Clinic

110, Dodworth Road


S70 6HL


Thank you.