Picture this: you’re in the midst of a home workout (we’re in lockdown remember and the gyms are off limits) and you’ve sprained your ankle in an accidental twist. What’s that? Workouts aren’t your thing? Ok, you’ve been slouching on the lounge while binging your favourite series and now you have a sore neck and a headache is brewing. So who should you call upon to treat your injury or manage your aches and pains – your GP or a physiotherapist?
How do I choose between my doctor and physiotherapist?
If you’ve sustained a serious injury, the answer is a no brainer – go straight to the emergency department without delay. Otherwise, you would naturally think to head to your doctor for medical attention. But don’t discount the abilities of physiotherapists who are also healthcare professionals and specialise in reducing pain and restoring movement.
A GP and physiotherapist are both trained professional practitioners who undergo extensive training, and are medically registered. Both will ask lots of questions to assess, diagnose and treat a problem. Both will listen to your concerns and both will tailor their treatment to help get you better.
The key is to get a speedy diagnosis so that suitable treatment can start early to avoid further setbacks. If you can’t get in to see your doctor immediately, there are some physiotherapists that offer same day appointments.
The advantages of seeing a physio before the doctor
Given that both a doctor and physiotherapist have your well-being front of mind and both will strive to help you recover, is there are an advantage in consulting with a physiotherapist in preference to your GP?
If your injury is impacting your mobility, it makes sense to see a physiotherapist. They specialise in musculoskeletal problems – the sorts of ailments that impact your ability to move and function (like neck and back pain, muscle strain or tendon injuries), hence why physiotherapists are regarded as experts in restoring movement and getting you back to health, pain free.
A physiotherapist uses proven and effective physical methods or manual therapy to treat an ailment (think massage or targeted exercises), while a doctor may prescribe drugs as a course of treatment for your injury. But those who have wearied of consuming prescribed anti-inflammatories that offer little or no relief may prefer a physiotherapist who promotes pinpointing the source of pain and formulating a treatment plan to fix the problem.
Sometimes it takes a whole team approach
There are benefits to doctors and physiotherapists working together to ensuring the best outcomes for the patient. And it does happen. Doctors may refer patients to physiotherapists for injuries that require their expertise (however you don’t need a doctor’s referral to see a physio). Similarly, a physiotherapist may refer a patient to their GP for further investigation, scans or medication.
Am I alienating my doctor if I choose physiotherapy?
Of course not! Whichever medical professional you seek out, you’ll be in safe hands. So the next time you sustain an injury from a home workout or slouching on the lounge, keep in mind you have nothing to lose from seeing a physiotherapist for treatment and plenty to gain by acting quickly.
Remember, physiotherapists are specially trained to carry out manual therapies such as massage, stretches and strengthening exercises that re-establish movement and optimise your health. They also teach you what to do should your aches and pains flare up in the future.
If you’re still unsure, give us a call and we can discuss your concerns and answer your questions.