Physiotherapy FAQ’s

What do physiotherapists do?

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) states that:

Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. 

They maintain health for people of all ages, helping patients to manage pain and prevent disease.

The profession helps to encourage development and facilitate recovery, enabling people to stay in work while helping them remain independent for as long as possible.

Physiotherapy is a science-based profession and takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health and wellbeing, which includes the patient’s general lifestyle.

At the core is the patient’s involvement in their own care, through education, awareness, empowerment and participation in their treatment.

Will I be seen face to face?

We offer face-to-face appointments to all our patients. We have clinics across the county so there will be a clinic within 30minutes travel of you.

In some cases people prefer a telephone call and this can be more convenient – often this might be a good option as a follow-up to check on progress, but in the vast majority of cases a face-to-face appointment is preferable and beneficial, and is therefore chosen.

Why can’t my GP refer me directly to a consultant?

Your GP is able to refer you directly to the orthopaedic team via the Single Point of Access (SPOA.)  All referrals are clinically triaged and sometimes the referral may be directed to the physiotherapists in line with the clinical pathways which have been produced collaboratively with our GP colleagues in primary care and the consultant colleagues at the hospitals as it is felt to be the correct initial route for you.

Physiotherapy is often the start of the patient journey as it is frequently the appropriate non-operative option, and for many people and problems surgery is not required.  If non-operative management isn’t working then your physiotherapist can refer you onwards to the orthopaedic team if appropriate and in line with the agreed clinical pathways.

In Suffolk we have evidence based clinical pathways for patients relating to different conditions. These have been developed and agreed with the orthopaedic consultants and clinical leads in primary care, and aim to encompass best practice and ensure that patients are seen in the right place and at the right time.

The recommendations of Getting it Right First Time (“GIRFT”- a national programme designed to improve the treatment and care of patients.), the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (“NICE”) and also clinical research help to guide clinical pathways.

If I’m not improving will my physiotherapist refer me on?

If you aren’t improving as hoped then it might be appropriate to refer you onwards for further investigation or perhaps more invasive treatment.  We have agreed clinical pathways to help guide your treatment and management

What happens if I am referred on?

Some referrals might be directly from the physiotherapist to another team (such as podiatry or the community therapy teams), whereas some referrals will be to the orthopaedic or rheumatology team for further assessment.  Your physiotherapist will help advise you on the estimated waiting times for different clinical pathways or treatment where possible.

Will I get “hands on” treatment?

Sometimes manual therapy is a useful adjunct to management of musculoskeletal conditions, however “hands on” treatment is not always indicated or appropriate. Your physiotherapist will include you in making a treatment plan and will explain the rationale for the proposed management.  If you are unclear or unhappy then please discuss with your physiotherapist.

Can my physiotherapist order x-rays or MRIs?

It is important to note that imaging often doesn’t help diagnosis or change treatment plans therefore isn’t required in all situations.

In order to ensure imaging is appropriate and we have best use of resources, our local clinical pathways suggest when imaging is required.

Your GP is able to organise certain images/investigations, and in some specific instances your physiotherapist will be able to organise an x-ray, otherwise it will be arranged by the orthopaedic team at the correct time.

How long are waits to be seen and how long is it between appointments?

Referrals triaged as urgent will be offered an appointment within 10 working days; routine appointments are offered within 20 working days.

The gap between appointments will depend on what is required clinically depending on the treatment offered. For example, if a strengthening program is recommended, it is appropriate to allow a longer period between appointments to allow the exercises to take effect before reviewing and progressing them.