By: Blair Milne, Physiotherapist
When you’re a patient in physiotherapy, the sessions are generally set up to be once-a-week appointments for a certain amount of time. During those appointments, your physiotherapist will dig into whatever issues you’re dealing with that day, whether it’s pain in your knee or weakness in your hip. And then you go home again and have another appointment the following week.
Once you leave your initial period of physiotherapy though, things get trickier. How often should you have physiotherapy from this point onward? Is there an ideal frequency?
To answer this question (and many others like it) we reached out to some experts on the topic: physiotherapists! Here’s what they had to say about how often you should have therapy after finishing your initial sessions:
How often should you have physiotherapy?
This will actually depend on two things: the injury or ailment you’re working on and your physiotherapist’s recommendations. Why the injury? Well, different injuries require different amounts of therapy. A bad sprain, for example, will more likely require longer appointments than a torn rotator cuff.
Why the physiotherapist’s recommendation? Let’s say you have a torn rotator cuff. Your therapist will likely prescribe intensive, longer-term care. However, if you’re back to normal activities after a few weeks, then a few times a month might be sufficient. Once you’ve had an initial assessment, your physical therapist will recommend a treatment plan that matches your physical activity and health condition.
After an injury or episode of pain.
If you’ve just had a spell of pain or an injury that caused you to see a physiotherapist, the best course of action is to continue to have physiotherapy services. This is the perfect time to get some long-term care. You want to keep the therapy going to make sure any lingering issues are treated and that you’re strengthening and stabilizing your injured areas. Most likely, your physiotherapist will want you to come in as often as you can so that you can make the most of the sessions. (If you’re in some sort of work-related pain, though, you’ll want to check with your employer to see if you can take the time to go to therapy. It’s up to your company to decide how much time off is fair.)
To prevent re-injury and strengthen your body.
If you’re just trying to maintain your current health, you probably won’t have to go to therapy as often. You might just want to go once every couple of months to make sure all systems are go. If you recently had surgery or you’ve been recovering from a knee injury or crunched-up shoulder, though, you’ll want to keep up your physiotherapy. Injury prevention is the goal here. Your body is weak and unstable after an injury, and you’ll want to go and have your physiotherapist help it get back to normal strength. You can also have your physiotherapist put you on a “preventative” maintenance plan so that you can go less often but still keep the risk of injury low.
To address chronic pain and muscle weakness.
If you have chronic pain or weakness in your muscles, you’ll want to go to physiotherapy as often as you can. The therapy sessions can help prevent the pain from becoming worse, and the physiotherapist can help you do exercises in your day-to-day life that might help alleviate pain. You’ll also probably want to see a pain management doctor so that you can get some medications that can help manage your pain. And, if you have weakness in your muscles, you’ll want to go to physiotherapy as often as they recommend you go. Your physiotherapist can help you strengthen your muscles by prescribing exercises you can do at home, and they can teach you how to move your body in a way that helps put your muscles in the right place.
Bottom line: It’s up to you!
Really, the frequency of your visits is up to you and your experienced physiotherapist. You can go as often or as infrequently as you want (within reason). You don’t want to go so often that it feels like a chore, but you also don’t want to go too infrequently and fall behind on your treatment. It’s entirely up to you and your physiotherapist to figure out how often you should be going. Call Peak Health & Performance and get started on your physio treatment plan today.