How Does a Physiotherapist Diagnose and Fix Your Injury?

You may be aware of the physio stereotype. That physios basically inflict pain and then give you 67 strange exercises to do. Perhaps you have no idea what a physio does and are curious. So how does a physiotherapist diagnose and fix your injury? Well we’re not the pain mongers as you may think we are.


I am an Australian qualified Physiotherapist and our qualifications and approach are very similar to physios in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, to name a few.


Every physio assessment is like a detective story. We want to know:

  • What are the clues? (ie What can you tell us about your injury)
  • Who is the culprit? (ie What structure is causing your pain?)
  • Who are the accomplices? (ie What in your life has contributed to this happening?)
  • What are the consequences? (ie What is your rehabilitation pathway?)


This all starts with a conversation.


Chat Assessment

We start by asking you a series of questions about your injury, and your life. Things like

  • When did your issues start?
  • What makes your pain worse?
  • What makes your pain better?
  • What is your job?
  • Do you exercise?


After the chat assessment, we should already have a pretty good idea of what your diagnosis is. We then prove or disprove that theory with a movement assessment.


Movement Assessment

Next we go through a series of movement based tests. These are designed to safely stress and load certain structures. This tells us what may be damaged and what is ok. Your physio may perform these test on you, or they may guide you to perform these tests on yourself.


After the movement assessment, the physio has decided on your diagnosis. The next step is to empower you with that information.




The explanation helps you to understand exactly what is going on with your injury.

Diagnosis: What is causing your pain

Contributing Factors: What led to this injury happening

Timeframe expectations: How long do we expect your recovery to take


Once you know what is going on, you need to know what steps you need to take to recover. This is your rehabilitation plan.

Rehabilitation Plan



These are designed to get your body back in working order. If something is weak, we strengthen it. If something is tight, we loosen it. If something is unstable, we stabilize it.


Activity Modification

We let you know what things in your day to day life need to be changed so that this problem will not come back.


Contributing factor modification

We address anything else that may need adjustment, like your footwear, posture or laptop set up.


Follow up

Once your rehabilitation plan is up and running, we check in regularly to see how you are going. If anything makes you worse, we change it. If things get to easy, we progress it. Simple as that.


Physiotherapists are like your coach for injury recovery. You take your car to the mechanic when it develops a strange vibration or noise, and the physio is where you should take your body to when you feel things are not working they way they should. That way, you can avoid a complete breakdown.