Top 10 Phrases Heard During a Physiotherapy Session

   1. “I didn’t have time to do my exercises… (or other physiotherapist mandated activity to do outside of treatment sessions)”

Most of the time, the key to a successful resolution is home exercise. An improvement requires commitment. The excuse that you did not have time to find 10 minutes in your day to do your prescribed exercises is won't wash with us and it won't help you achieve your goal of getting better. You have to help to help yourself.

   2. “I looked on Google and think this is the problem/do you think this is the problem?…”

Google is a useful resource, undoubtedly. In the hands of the uninitiated this can be a problem, in the hands of the hypochondriac this can border on an unmitigated disaster. The patient will usually think worst case scenario and it becomes the unenviable task of the health professional to help convince them otherwise.

   3. “I’m not sure physiotherapy is for me/it will work”

We know you may be skeptical what we can do, but please give us a chance, you might even like it. Physiotherapy is of great benefit for a great many conditions or injuries and most scepticism comes from not knowing what a physiotherapist will actually do.

   4. “I did my exercises every day just like you asked me to…”

Patients who do their exercises are a rare breed. Telling us what we want to hear is no good in the long term if you are not actually doing your exercises. The only person being cheated is yourself. If you are not doing your exercises, please tell us, we can look into what we can do to modify your exercises to make them doable/attainable.

     5. “I have a high pain threshold” followed by a 10/10 for later in the assessment when asked “how would you score you pain on a scale of 0 to 10?”

Pain scales are always a difficult subject. It is a subjective experience and will vary massively. The above is a contradiction to the previous statement unfortunately. Please do not make such bold claims if you do not have the necessary evidence to substantiate them.

    6. “I’ve arrived early/late for my appointment, please can you see me early/do you still have time to see me?”

You could argue this one might not be said during a physiotherapy session. The idea of a diary system with allotted times for patient appointments is a foreign concept to some unfortunately. We understand you have arrived early/late but there are people to be seen before and after you. Please be patient or do your utmost to turn up on time. If we can, we will still try to see you.

    7. "What did you study at university?

Physiotherapy, funnily enough. It does seem like an innocuous question, but when making small talk with a patient you will be surprised how often this question is asked.

    8. "Do your hands not hurt after doing this?"

This one will usually be asked to the manual therapists out there. Sometimes, they may hurt, but we are trained in such a way that we aim to minimise any occupation based pains and aches. However, thank you for your concern.

     9. “It hurts all the time” in response to the question “What makes the pain worse?”

This is an important part of the assessment. Yes, I appreciate it will hurt a lot of the time but I am trying to discern your aggravating factors and structure a plan to help you get better.

    10.“I want you to do this exercise 3 times a day, with 10 repetitions, and I want you to hold it for 10 seconds each time”

The only one this list by that you will frequently hear from a physiotherapist. It is a classic physiotherapy trope and one that will probably stick around.


By Adam Meak 

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