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Choosing a physiotherapist

Physiotherapy treatment can be highly effective for a range of issues and injuries from back pain to sports injuries, arthritis, and many other conditions. It uses a series of manipulation, exercise, and massage techniques to assist with rehabilitation, and provide drug-free relief from pain and injury, helping you to get moving again more easily and more comfortably.

Physiotherapists are trained practitioners who have a comprehensive understanding of the way your body works, how injuries occur and how to help them heal. Their training takes at least three years and includes over 1,000 hours of hands-on practice.

But with so many therapists to choose from, how do you know which is best for you?

This article on choosing a physiotherapist is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.


Qualifications

There are two main bodies that regulate physiotherapists in the UK. Before you arrange treatment it’s worth checking your therapist is a member of one of them.

All physiotherapists should be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC) which regulates professional conduct, quality of treatment, and a range of other matters. To check whether a physiotherapist is registered visit the HPC website and check for their name on the database at www.hpcheck.org.

Most physiotherapists are also registered with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. To become a member, physiotherapists must prove education, safety, and competency, as well as good health and good character. Members must also hold professional indemnity insurance. Society membership is not compulsory but does give you the reassurance that your physiotherapist has had to achieve certain standards.

If you have a particularly complex problem, you should consider seeing an advanced therapist. Look for either membership of the Manipulation Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, or an MSC in Manual Therapy. Both of these qualifications indicate qualification to Masters Degree and a high level of expertise and skill.

Specialist

Most general physiotherapists can deal with common physical problems very competently. However, if you have a more specific need you should look for a specialist therapist. For example, some therapists specialise in sports injuries and will understand the demands of sportsmen and women to get back to action as quickly as possible. Other therapists specialise in women’s issues, such as incontinence problems following childbirth and the unique musculo-skeletal strains of pregnancy. Alternatively, if reducing the pain from your injury is more of a priority than a swift recovery you can look for a physiotherapist who specialises in pain management.

Your GP or private clinic will be able to advise you on the best kind of therapist for you, and suggest a few local alternatives.

Personal preference

It is worth bearing in mind that physiotherapy is a very intimate treatment involving direct manipulation of your body. It is therefore is vital you feel comfortable with your therapist. Although all therapists are professionally trained to put patients at their ease, you may still wish to meet him or her before your first session to ensure you’ll feel able to relax with them. You can, of course, specifically request a male or female therapist.

You should also choose a therapist you feel you can trust, especially if you’re paying privately. A good physiotherapist will always explain the treatment in advance and give you an indication of how long, and how expensive, your private physiotherapy treatment is likely to be. This is very important, as you need to understand the treatment and have realistic expectations of the outcome, if your course is to be a success. If you’re worrying about what will happen, this can produce tension which will be counter productive to your treatment.

Benefits

Physiotherapy treatment can bring huge benefits for a wide range of problems and injuries. With just a few simple considerations, you can ensure you get the maximum benefit from your treatment by choosing the right therapist for your condition, and for yourself.

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Choosing a physiotherapist
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