How Often Are Physio Appointments?

So, you’ve recently been experiencing some pain and have decided it would be a good idea to visit a physiotherapist to get some guidance. You’ve never attended physiotherapy before, and you’re wondering how the appointments will work. How long will the appointments be? How often will you need to go in for appointments? What will happen during the appointments and what do you need to be prepared for?

These are all questions that many clients have when they’re attending physiotherapy for the first time, or even for the tenth time! Physiotherapy can vary so much depending on what clinic and setting you attend. Today we’ll discuss what to expect at a typical walk-in physiotherapy clinic.

What happens at the first appointment?

The first physiotherapy appointment you attend will need to be an assessment. The assessment typically ranges from 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the clinic. The assessment consists of both a subjective assessment and an objective assessment.

The subjective assessment is purely discussion, as your therapist tries to get an understanding of your pain or injury. Your physiotherapist will start by asking lots of open-ended questions to get an idea of what you need help with. The more information you can provide your therapist, the better! Physios like to get as much information as they can from you, so they can start figuring out how best to help you. Even information that seems irrelevant, such as how much stress you have at work, can be important when it comes to injury and recovery. So be sure not to leave out any details!

Once your physiotherapist has gotten a good understanding of you and your pain or injury, they will start the objective examination. This examination typically starts with your therapist observing and feeling the injured or painful area. They will also have you perform a series of movements to assess what you’re able to do with and without pain, as well as what makes your pain better or worse. Your therapist may also test your reflexes, sensation, and strength, depending on what problems you are experiencing. Once you and your therapist complete the objective assessment, your therapist will discuss their findings with you. Here they will talk with you about a treatment plan and the next steps going forward.

How often are physio appointments?

Now that your physiotherapist has finished your assessment, they will discuss a treatment plan with you. During this discussion they will outline what next steps should be taken, and how often you should follow up with them. While your physiotherapist will have a preference for how often you should attend appointments, they are very flexible. If your therapist outlines a plan for appointments that doesn’t work for you, let them know!

Physiotherapists want to work with you to develop a plan that suits your needs while also promoting healing and recovery. For more painful and acute injuries, your physiotherapist will likely want to see you two to three times per week. For injuries that are not as severe, your therapist will likely recommend coming to the clinic 1 time per week or 1 time every two weeks.

As you progress through treatment, your visits should slowly decrease in frequency, as you require less assistance and guidance. In rare cases, individuals who are very independent may attend appointments as little as 1 time per month or 1 time per six week period.

What will happen during my physio appointments?

Once you have completed your initial assessment, your following appointments will be treatments. Your physiotherapist may reassess you during these appointments, but they will mostly be treating your injury. Treatment can vary widely depending on the injury, the person and their goals, and the physio’s treatment philosophies. Most of the time physio treatments will involve education, exercise, a modality (a passive treatment such as acupuncture, TENS, heat, ice, etc.), and mobilization or stretching. The modalities and mobilization techniques can often help improve pain and reduce stiffness, while the education and exercise will help to solve the root of the problem.

Can Physiotherapists Diagnose in Ontario?

Once your physiotherapist has completed your assessment, they will provide you with a diagnosis. In Ontario, physiotherapists are allowed to diagnose within their scope of practice. Physiotherapists are therefore allowed to diagnose only physical dysfunction. They cannot diagnose medical or psychological conditions, and are unable to order diagnostic imaging (e.g. MRI, ultrasound, CT scan, X-ray, etc.). That being said, our body has many systems that interact with each other. So, your physiotherapist may also provide you with information about how other systems in your body are affecting your injury (e.g. stress and nutrition).

Still not sure what to expect with physiotherapy? Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable physiotherapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your injury. 


Liam Newlands
Physiotherapist at Strive Physiotherapy and Performance

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