DOCTOR OR PHYSIO – WHO SHOULD I SEE ?
At Physiologic Physiotherapy we often get asked “Should I see the doctor or come straight to physio”? Traditionally doctors have been the first port of call when a person injures themselves or requires advice and management of an injury. The field of musculoskeletal and sports type injury has become somewhat of a specialised area in recent times. In medicine we now have Sports Physicians (Specialists) and in physiotherapy we have titled sports physios and sports specialist physios. In a private practice type setting such as Physiologic physiotherapy our “bread and butter” very much is in the management of musculoskeletal injuries both in sports people and the general public. So to answer the original question – The truth is that either is acceptable. For those of us who have been to a doctor and seen a physiotherapist for a musculoskeletal injury – often the experience can be quite different. The following will help answer some common questions
DO I NEED A REFFERAL TO SEE A PHYSIO ? -You dont require a formal referral to see a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are known as “first contact” practitioners which means that we have the necessary skills to examine, DIAGNOSE, treat and advise our patients with no previous input or referral from a doctor
WHO IS BETTER EQUIPPED TO DIAGNOSE MY INJURY ? – Both doctors and physiotherapists have the necessary skills to diagnose your injury. Interestingly the most important thing is that there is a DIAGNOSIS made ! Often we see clients who have been sent to physiotherapy from the doctor with no formal diagnosis. in my experience it is very difficult to treat a patient without a diagnosis. Can you imagine trying to make a cake without knowing that it was a cake ? it doesnt matter who you see so long as the diagnosis is made clear to you.
WHO IS BETTER EQUIPPED TO MANAGE/TREAT MY INJURY ? – In summary it depends on the injury. Often both parties have input into an injury. For example it is not uncommon for the physio to refer to the doctor to ask for a script for some anti inflammatories as these are not able to be prescribed by a physio. In general you will usually get more detail and coverage under the guidance of the physio where a musculoskeletal injury is concerned. Our range of skills in this area is extensive and we are able to correctly advise you also.
WHO IS ABLE TO PRESCRIBE EXERCISES ? – Typically this is the physiotherapy domain. Most people who see us will know that we commonly give out drills/exercises to help with your rehab. I have no problem in saying that doctors do not readily do this and probably arent great at doing it either !
WHAT IF I REQUIRE SCANS ? – There are two options here. Both parties can send for scans although the rebates through medicare are different for some scans if a physio send you. The physiotherapist can either refer directly for a scan or send you to the doctor to get a referral for one. In summary it depends on the scan ! Interestingly a large part of our training centres on referring appropriately for scans. They can be costly and some scans have a radiation dosage associated with them. It is important that scans are adminstered correctly and the physiotherapist can direct you on this as well as most doctors.
HOW DO PHYSIOS AND DOCTORS WORK TOGETHER ? – Above all things the most important thing is the well being of our patients. We work closely with doctors for some of the following reasons. Referrral for scans, injections, to specialists, to other health professionals, for medication etc. Most good physios will recognise the need to refer to doctors and likewise most doctors will see when physiotherapy is indicated.
If you are unsure about who to see send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 55787155 and chat to one of the physios.