How quickly does physiotherapy work?

Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that involves the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, as well as physical impairments related to cardiorespiratory and neurological conditions. When you see a physiotherapist, they’ll need to first perform both subjective and objective assessments prior to providing treatments.

The subjective assessment consists of getting a detailed background history of your health and current condition. On the other hand, the objective assessment includes a physical examination of your condition as well as your mobility, strength, endurance, and flexibility. An assessment usually takes between 45-60 minutes.

Once you’ve finished the initial assessment, your physiotherapist will outline their assessment results, as well as their recommendations for the following treatment and management of your condition. It’s important to note that physiotherapy is a profession that can involve multiple different treatment strategies.

Physiotherapy treatments typically focus on education, exercise, manual therapy, and modalities (e.g. heat, ice, acupuncture, etc.). It’s important to note that the speed at which these treatments work will largely depend on your condition, and what you define as working.

For example, for injuries that are acute (new), you may find treatments are effective immediately or within a few sessions. For injuries that are long standing, it may take many physiotherapy treatments in order to notice a change. In some cases, it may take weeks or even months to notice improvement.

That being said, it’s important to be consistent with treatment if you really want to get better. Many individuals give up on physiotherapy because they don’t experience immediate results. One way to think of this is if we compare it to losing weight. Even if you adjust your diet and exercise significantly, it will still take time to see results. You can’t exercise for a week and expect to notice a huge change in weight. Weight loss often takes at least the amount of time it took to gain weight. Similarly, recovery often takes at least the amount of time you’ve been experiencing the injury before starting to receive help.

That means if you’ve been experiencing low back pain for 1 year, you can expect that it will take around 1 year to recover from it. Now, there are many factors that play a role here, such as diet, sleep, exercise, and more. So, the recovery may be faster or slower depending on those individual factors.

Either way, like all good things, recovery happens with consistency over time.


Should I see a physio or a doctor?

It can be hard to know whether you should see a doctor or see a physiotherapist. Both doctors and physiotherapists are primary healthcare providers. This means you can go straight to a physiotherapist without a doctor’s referral.

However, some insurance companies will require a referral from a doctor in order to receive coverage. It’s important to figure out whether or not your insurance company will require a referral, so that you can be covered for your therapy.

That being said, it’s also important to make sure you’re seeing the appropriate healthcare provider for your condition. A good rule of thumb is that you can go straight to physiotherapy for any musculoskeletal conditions or physical impairments related to other conditions. Some examples include any joint pains or sprains and muscle strains. Whether longstanding or new, it’s important to seek help for your injury as soon as you can.


Is physio a waste of money?

Physiotherapy is never a waste of money. It always starts with an assessment, followed by subsequent treatments. In some cases, you may be able to manage your condition or injury independently. In this case, it’s valuable to at least see a physiotherapist for an initial assessment, so that you know exactly what to do to manage on your own.

In other cases, you may need more guidance with managing your injury or condition. Either way, it’s important to see a professional in order to make sure you’re not missing anything when it comes to managing your condition. A physiotherapist will be able to collaborate with you to develop a plan that suits your individual needs.



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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