Osteopathy and physiotherapy treatment – what happens at my first appointment?

We know that attending your first appointment with either an osteopath or physiotherapist can be a little disconcerting to begin with. We have created the following fact sheet that explains exactly what to expect when you visit one of our clinics and it answers some of the questions that you may have. If you have any other concerns, please contact us by phone prior to attending your first appointment.  All our osteopaths are registered with the GOsC and our physiotherapists are registered with the HCPC.

At the beginning of your first session, one of our osteopaths or physiotherapists will ask you to tell them about your problem. They will ask questions about your medical history and lifestyle as well as your specific symptoms. This is very important, as it will help them to make an accurate diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment. They will take notes and put them in your medical records. These will always be kept confidential in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and if you wish, you may ask for a copy of these notes.

Next, your osteopath or physiotherapist will need to examine the area(s) of your body causing discomfort. Sometimes the cause of the problem may be in a different area to the pain, for example, a difference in leg length may result in compensations in the upper back which might result in neck pain, so they may need to examine your whole body. They will need to feel for tightness in the muscles and stiffness in the joints and may need to palpate these areas to identify problems. They will explain what they are doing as they go along. If you are at all uncomfortable with any part of this, you have the right to ask them to stop at any stage without prejudicing your future treatment.

In order to examine you effectively, it may be necessary for your practitioner to ask you to remove some clothing as appropriate for the condition, which might mean undressing down to your underwear. If this is a problem for you, make your practitioner aware of this, and discuss whether it might be appropriate for them to treat you while you wear shorts and a t-shirt or a gown that is always available in the treatment rooms. A course of treatment will then be suggested, which may require several visits and an estimate of how often you will need to be seen, with any associated costs, usually by the end of the first session. Before your session, you will be asked your permission for the practitioner to provide treatment and you will be asked to sign a consent form.

If deemed appropriate, treatment will begin at your first appointment, but sometimes your osteopath or physiotherapist may require further tests first i.e. blood tests or scans. Very occasionally they may diagnose an illness that they feel they are unable to treat and may suggest that you consult your GP or another appropriate health professional.

You may experience mild discomfort with some of the treatment techniques used, which is normal, but osteopathy and physiotherapy treatment is usually a very gentle process. Your osteopath or physiotherapist will let you know if any discomfort is likely and it can be helpful to let them know what you are feeling. If pain does persists after your treatment and you are concerned, then please contact your practitioner for advice.

You are always welcome to bring someone with you for all or part of your consultation. Please ensure too that if you are bringing a child under the age of 16 for a consultation or treatment, then a parent or guardian should always accompany them.

As always, we are always only a phone call or an email away if you have any questions or need some advice.