How Long Does it Take for Physio to Start Working?

Breeze Academy March 10, 2023
Physiotherapist apply tape to female client's back.

If you’re new to the world of physiotherapy, you might have wondered how long it will take to recover. In truth, there are a number of things that impact the rate of recovery during physiotherapy. In this article, we provide an estimate on how long it takes physio to start working, as well as going over these factors that can impact healing. 

So, how long does it take for physio to start working? Typically, it will take 6-8 weeks for physio to start working against mild to moderate conditions. For more severe cases, it may take up to 2 months. However, this can be impacted by factors such as the complexity of the injury, client’s commitment to recovery and the expertise of the Physiotherapist. 

Read on to learn more about the factors that impact how long it takes physiotherapy to work and what the next steps are if physiotherapy doesn’t work. 

How Long Does it Take for Physio to Work?

Many soft tissue injuries will take around 6-8 weeks of physio to heal. However, it depends entirely on individual circumstances and a range of factors including the severity of the condition, the individual's commitment to recovery and the expertise of the Physiotherapist. 

Below we explain each of these factors in more detail.

Injury Severity

For minor injuries, it will usually take 6-8 weeks of physiotherapy (2-3 sessions) to encourage healing. This is roughly how long it takes such injuries to heal on their own in most cases, however physiotherapy ensures that the injury heals properly and helps to reduce the chance of recurrence. 

More serious conditions can take upwards of 2 months of physiotherapy treatment, although this can vary on a case by case basis depending on individual progression.

Commitment to Recovery

Physiotherapists are very skilled at what they do but they aren’t magicians. Treatment is a two-way street. The people that recover the fastest often tend to be those that are fully committed to treatment. This not only includes attending physiotherapy sessions, but also completing any prescribed exercises and stretches outside of sessions. It may also involve changes to diet and sleep habits. 

Patients spend so little time with their Physiotherapist along their road to recovery that this commitment is vital to a quick and healthy recovery.

Expertise of the Physiotherapist

In cases involving more severe or complex injuries, the expertise or niche of the Physiotherapist can have an impact on how long it takes the physio to work. An experienced or specialist Physiotherapist will be able to pick up on any complications and devise a course of treatment, allowing the injury to heal better than if it was treated by a non-specialist.

How You Know it’s Working

There are a few tell-tale signs that physio is working:

  • pain has reduced or been eliminated;
  • it is clear that healing has occurred;
  • function has improved;
  • range of motion and strength has increased.

How Long is a Physio Appointment?

A physio appointment typically lasts 30-60 minutes, but this can vary on a case by case basis, depending on what each individual condition requires. After an initial assessment session, the Physiotherapist will be able to determine an appropriate session length based on planned exercises and activities. 

How Often Should You Have Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapists will recommend a schedule that suits each individual, however, most people can expect to see their Physiotherapist 2-3 times per week initially. This may then reduce down to 1-2 times per week as the individual recovers. 

It is possible to over-do it with physiotherapy, therefore it’s important to factor rest into a recovery schedule. Physiotherapists will advise their patients on ways to properly balance recovery activities and exercises with rest. This will allow the patient to develop lasting strength, flexibility and mobility.

What is the Next Step if Physiotherapy Doesn’t Work?

If there is no change to the injured area after two weeks of physiotherapy, either in terms of pain or mobility, patients should be referred back to their primary physician. 

There are a number of reasons why physiotherapy may not work, including a bad fit with the Physiotherapist, the condition may have evolved, or not properly executing at-home exercises. The primary physician can reassess the condition and determine an appropriate course of action. This may be a referral to another Physiotherapist, or an alternative therapy. 

Final Thoughts

Typically, it will take 6-8 weeks for physio to work against mild to moderate conditions. More severe conditions may take up to 2 months to heal. However, this will depend entirely on the condition in question and can be impacted by a number of factors along the way.

There are also a number of other alternative therapies such as Acupuncture and Massage Therapy that can have an impact on such conditions. At Breeze Academy, we offer a range of CPD courses for healthcare professionals like Physiotherapists that explore the use of Acupuncture, Massage Therapy and Clinical Yoga as additional therapies in your practice. Learn more online today or get in touch with our friendly team for further information.

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