If you're suffering from a musculoskeletal condition such as lower back pain, tennis elbow, foot pain or a sports-related injury, you may be wondering whether a visit to the physiotherapist is worth it. Indeed, there's a lot of confusion that comes with physiotherapy treatment.

Physiotherapists are professionals who can examine your medical history and current condition to recommend an effective treatment plan. They also provide valuable tips on how you can maintain proper physical activity without compromising your health. If you're wondering what you can expect when you visit a physiotherapist, here's an overview of what your first appointment will look like.

A review of your medical history

Each patient has unique symptoms and causes of pain in their bodies. This is why a physiotherapist will begin by reviewing your medical history to determine any potential causes of chronic pain from your previous activity. For example, if you regularly lift heavy items or spend hours in front of a computer while at work, the therapist can begin to get a sense of how ergonomics or body posture is the root of your discomfort. Furthermore, medical history can point to pre-existing conditions such as osteoporosis or prior injuries from sports/accidents.

A physical examination

While medical history gives your physiotherapist a head start on the cause of muscle pain, a physical exam will confirm the exact cause and treatment path that you might need. The exam may be done during your first visit or at a later date, depending on your extent of discomfort and medical history.

During a physical exam, physiotherapists aim to address the root cause of your issue. Their goal is to identify a specific muscle, tendon or any other body part that may be generating pain or discomfort. In this way, treatment can be directed towards that specific area so as to alleviate symptoms as quickly as possible.

A physical exam may be as simple as stretching your arms/legs back and forth, an examination of swollen areas or questions about how you feel when engaging in certain types of activity. These tests may be followed by imaging such as X-rays and scans to get a better view of affected muscles.

Development of a treatment plan

Once the root cause of your discomfort has been identified, the physiotherapist will proceed to develop a treatment plan. Treatment is carried from one patient to another. Some people may be told to carry out specific exercises several times a week, while others will be taped or placed in a brace to promote healing of sprained muscles or broken bones. The key behind physiotherapy treatment is continuous evaluation and fine-tuning your treatment plan.