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Why Your Physio Asks All Those Questions Pain

When you book in to see the physio you expect to be asked about your problems but may be surprised by the number and range of questions the physiotherapist asks you before he or she starts to do something. There are a number of important reasons why all these questions are being asked and they relate to finding the specifics of your condition and making sure you don''t have anything seriously wrong with you from a medical point of view.

The physio will usually start with the pain as this is the overwhelmingly most frequent reason why anyone consults a physiotherapist. Pain is a very complex phenomenon and the type of pain and its behaviour can give a physio valuable clues as to the nature of the underlying problem. First thing is the location of the pain. Pain is commonly located directly over or very close to the structure which is responsible for generating it. Many pains are referred, in other words the pain appears in an area distant from the presumed anatomical cause. These patterns of referral are often predictable and the physiotherapist is looking for common patterns they can ascribe to a particular problem.

Once the physio knows where the pain is they will want to know what the level of pain is, a very subjective matter which can only be estimated by the patient. The scale of nought to ten is used where nought is no pain and ten is the worst pain imaginable. This estimated level will serve several purposes: it will allow the physio to gauge the progress of treatment as the pain (hopefully) reduces in intensity; it will tell the physio how irritable the pain is and how careful they need to be in treating the problem; it indicates the seriousness of the pain and the potential for becoming a chronic problem.

The nature of the pain is the next thing the physiotherapist will want to know. Acute injury pain is strong and achy with sudden sharp pains on movements, chronic pains from soft tissues are aching and deep in nature while nerve pains are often very sharp, burning and abnormal feeling. These types of pain are not clear cut but give the physio clues as to the likely underlying tissue problem. How the pain behaves to stress is next, with the aggravating and easing factors giving valuable information about what is being stresses in those activities.


Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth

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