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A physiotherapist helps people to regain movement and function when they have been affected by injury, illness or disability. They can also provide preventative care to help people to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future.

What conditions does a physiotherapist treat?

The list of conditions that a physiotherapist can provide treatment for is vast and we have provided a few examples below:

Back pain • neck pain • shoulder pain • sports injuries • problems resulting from a stroke, parkinsons disease or multiple sclerosis • rehabilitation following a heart attack • treatment of COPD and cystic fibrosis.

Where do physiotherapists practice?

As the role of a physiotherapist is included in so many and varied areas of medicine and the treatment of illness, a physiotherapist could work from a number of areas including:

  • Private Practice
  • Hospitals
  • Health Centres
  • Sports Teams or clubs
  • Workplaces
  • GP Surgeries
  • Some offer home visits

What happens when you visit a physiotherapist?

On your first visit the physiotherapist will take detailed information about your problem and any medical history relating to it. They will also ask questions about your general health and lifestyle. The information you provide will be kept confidentially. You will need to confirm to your physiotherapist any medication that you are taking and any X-rays, scans, medical reports and a GP referral letter if applicable.

The physiotherapist will also perform a physical assessment to obtain a clinical diagnosis of your problem. During this time you may need to undress so that the physiotherapist can examine the problem area and surrounding areas more accurately. If you are uncomfortable with this, you may ask to take someone in to the session with you such as a friend or family member.

Following the assessment, a clinical diagnosis will be made and the appropriate course of treatment will be discussed with you. This initial consultation could take up to 60 minutes and if appropriate may include a degree of treatment.

Do you need a GP referral letter to visit a physiotherapist?

You do not need to have a GP referral letter to visit a private physiotherapist however, if you are claiming for your treatment via a private medical insurance policy then you will need to pre-authorise your treatment with your insurance provider.

About physiotherapists and their governing bodies

A physiotherapist is specially trained and a physiotherapy degree enables a physiotherapist to register with the Health and Care Professions Council. If they choose to take a programme that holds CSP accreditation they can also become a qualified membership of The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP).

The Health Care Professions Council is the UK regulator for physiotherapist professionals.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK’s chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers.


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