Frequently Asked: “GP or a Physio?”

Sometimes we hear from patients who have woken up in pain, and they call up asking “should I see my GP or a physio?” We asked our Wilmslow based Physio Chris to give us his thoughts.

“One in five people consult a GP about a musculoskeletal problem each year (Arthritis Research UK, 2009).

17-30% of GP appointments are for MSK problems (Jordan et al., 2007).

Most musculoskeletal conditions can be treated by a physiotherapist. It is rare that neck or back pain has a more serious cause.

Physiotherapists can identify symptoms that might not be of a musculoskeletal nature, and then make recommendations for onward referral i.e pain relief, orthopaedic referral, scans, underlying health issues (red flags).

Neck and back pain may have a more serious cause if it is persistent and getting progressively worse, or if there are additional symptoms, such as a lack of co-ordination, problems walking,  loss of bladder or bowel control, a high temperature (fever), unexplained weight loss.

A serious cause is more likely if you have had a recent, significant injury. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, or had a fall, or you have a history of cancer or conditions that weaken your immune system.

At Harris and Ross we would begin with an assessment initially. This would establish the extent of the problem and the likely diagnosis. Treatment would be based on the findings of the assessment.

Physiotherapy treatment can be in a number of forms; hands on treatment such as manual therapy and acupuncture; exercises in the form of a tailored exercise programme as well as advice on how to manage pain and prevent recurrence.”