When do I see a physio, and when do I see a doctor?


There are often times in life when we get pain and just don’t know whether to see a doctor or go directly to the physiotherapist. Here in New Zealand physiotherapists can lodge ACC claims directly without you having to see a doctor first. But how do you know?

Here we have prepared a simple list of questions to help you decide who should be your first phone call, Back In Action Physiotherapy or a doctor.

Are you suddenly bleeding profusely, have 10/10 pain that is un-relenting, or your limb is distorted?
Go to a Dr immediately, in-fact go straight to the hospital or a 24 hours medical centre.

Do you have pain that is 9 or 10/10 and there is no position or movement that can ease it slightly (even to a 7/10)?
You will need to see a doctor for pain relief. They may refer you to a physiotherapist for treatment once your pain is under better control.

Do you have night pain that can not be relieved by rolling over, moving to a different position, or taking over-the-counter pain medication?
Once again, you will need to see a doctor to get your pain and inflammation under control before seeing a physiotherapist.

Have you done this injury before and it feels similar and the doctor just referred you straight to a physiotherapist?
Call your physiotherapist and during your initial session, they can help you fill out the appropriate forms. Start your rehab immediately.

Have you had a niggling injury that just isn’t going away? Does it come and go throughout the day but you can sleep through the night fairly easily? Is it stopping you perform your best at home or in your chosen sport?
Call your physiotherapist and they can help you figure out the cause of the discomfort. They will help you return to full daily living without pain again. They can also give you some home exercises and stretches so you can help yourself if the pains return.

Does your child get pain whenever they exercise or by the end of a school day? This pain is usually in the knees or ankles and may be related to a sudden increase in height.
Call your physiotherapist and they can assess your child’s biomechanics (the way they move). We also look at training load to see if there is a physical cause for your child’s pain. Physiotherapists can give you advice on home exercises, stretches and treatment techniques so you can help them as well.

It is important for your child to be seen by a physiotherapist so they do not end up with long term pain or compensatory injuries. They can often continue with a level of activity that is appropriate for them specifically.
If you see your doctor and they diagnose growing pains we recommend you also see a physiotherapist. The therapist will help prevent further damage or compensatory postures and return to sport better, faster.

Have you hurt yourself but your pain or swelling has come on a day or more later?
Call a physiotherapist and book an appointment. We see this commonly in our clinic where patients are able to continue playing their sport or going about their normal daily business but do not realise they have injured themselves until a bit later on. If you are in discomfort we can help you so give us a call.

Have you had an injury for years but now you just live with it thinking nobody can help?
Give us a call at Back In Action Physiotherapy. We are highly skilled therapists who look at your whole body to determine the cause of discomforts and injuries so we can often help you get better.

So if you have made it to the bottom and you landed on ‘Call your physiotherapist’ then give us at Back In Action Physio a call. We are on 021 438825, or text, or email to [email protected] or message us on Facebook. We will get you booked in and on the mend as soon as possible.

Are you still unsure? Give us a call and we can give you some free advice over the phone.

If for some reason you have come to see us but you should go and see your doctor as well, then we can refer you. We can easily refer you back to your GP, directly to a Sports Doctor, surgeon, podiatrist, and even directly for an ultrasound or x-ray.

We look forward to meeting you and helping you get better, faster!

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