Definition and Overview

A physical therapy consultation is an appointment between a physical therapist and a patient. Its purpose is to discuss how physical therapy can help the patient, depending on what kind of pain or injury he is suffering from. This is usually offered by physical therapy clinics and specialists for free and is beneficial for anyone who is suffering from pain or injury and is considering physical therapy as part of an ongoing treatment as well as for anyone who has certain mobility and motion problems caused by other factors.

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of any medical problem that hinders individuals from moving normally and properly and keeps them from performing their normal activities.

At the end of the consultation, the patient will be given a recommended physical therapy plan, which he can follow alongside his medical treatment plan. Incorporating physical therapy into a medical treatment plan for pain or injury can help reduce the need for prescription drugs (which can cause side effects) and surgical intervention.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

A physical therapy consultation is beneficial for:

  • Patients who are suffering from chronic pain conditions
  • Patients who suffered an injury
  • Patients recovering from surgery
  • Patients born with developmental problems or birth defects

Some examples of conditions that may be treated with physical therapy include:

The purpose of physical therapy is to:

  • Improve or allow proper mobility and movement
  • Improve flexibility, coordination and balance
  • Reduce pain
  • Restore proper body function
  • Prevent progression of symptoms, such as further impairment and disability

At the end of a consultation with a physical therapist, a patient should be aware of how physical therapy can be of benefit to him and what kind of physical therapy programs he can undergo so he can make an informed decision as to whether to incorporate it into his existing medical care plan.

How the Procedure Works?

A physical therapy consultation occurs either at the request of a patient or when a physician refers a patient to a physical therapist. Physical therapists work in hospitals, private clinics, and special physiotherapy centers. The consultation usually takes only 15 minutes and does not involve any tests or procedures. It will mainly be a discussion of the patient’s physiotherapy treatment options, the risks and benefits that can be expected from the therapy, and how to proceed with the treatment, if the patient decides to include it in his medical care plan. All the information gathered from the consultation will help the patient decide if physical therapy is the right course of treatment for him.

A physical therapy consultation involves the following steps:

  • Assessment of the patient’s medical history
  • Discussion of the patient’s condition and symptoms
  • Discussion of the potential benefits of therapy
  • Discussion of a possible physical therapy treatment plan

At the start of the consultation, it is normal for patients to be asked to fill up an information form. To help the physical therapist provide an accurate treatment recommendation, patients should provide all necessary information about their condition and discuss their symptoms in detail. Patients are also encouraged to ask all the questions they may have, so they will have sufficient information to guide them in moving forward with their treatment.

If necessary, the physical therapist may order some tests after the consultation, but these are usually scheduled at a later time and are rarely performed in the same appointment.

Patients are not obliged to undergo the prescribed treatment plan provided during the consultation. It is normal for most patients to seek a second opinion and make a decision based on how the consultations go. This is because it is important for patients to find a physical therapist or a PT clinic that they will feel comfortable working with.

Possible Risks and Complications

The use of physical therapy as part of a medical care plan can help prevent several possible risks and complications associated with the use of medications and surgery.

The main risks in using medications include:

  • Over-treatment, especially when medications are used for the long-term management of chronic pain conditions
  • Side effects, such as:
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Constipation
    • Anxiety
    • Muscle pain
    • Drowsiness
  • Overdose
  • Drug dependence

Surgery also has its own set of risks, which include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Anaesthesia complications, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure elevation, allergic reaction, and many others
  • Delayed healing
  • Breathing trouble

Maximizing the potential benefits of physical therapy can help reduce the need for medications and surgery, thus protecting patients from their potential risks.


  • International Spine Intervention Society
  • Teens Health from Nemours: “Physical Therapy
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