A physiotherapist is a healthcare professional who helps you remain active and independent. They’re experts in:

  • assessing movement
  • addressing individual needs
  • helping to improve function
  • managing pain.

Some specialist physiotherapists are trained to diagnose and treat people with joint and muscle pain.

How can I be referred to a physiotherapist?

Your GP or rheumatologist can refer you to your nearest physiotherapy department, although access may depend on what services are available in your area.

You may be able to self-refer, so you make your own arrangements to see a physiotherapist without a doctor’s referral.

Self-referral is relatively new in some parts of the UK. Check with your GP and find out if you have an NHS physiotherapy department in your area that accepts self-referrals.

If you wish to be seen privately you can self-refer to a private physiotherapy practice. It’s very important to give a full medical history to the physiotherapist when you self-refer.

How can a physiotherapist help me?

Helping you to understand how arthritis affects you

Your physiotherapist can help you understand what happens to your joints and muscles when you have arthritis and how you can minimise the effect these changes have on your life.

Helping you to manage your pain

Your physiotherapist can advise you about strategies to manage your day-to-day pain.

Pacing is one of these strategies. Working with the physiotherapist you can discover the right balance between rest and activity. This means planning your activities so you’re always comfortable, and this will enable you to enjoy the things you want to do.

Other pain-relief methods that may be used by physiotherapists include:

You can also access these treatments through private practitioners or buy them independently.

Improving your fitness

Exercise can:

  • improve your general fitness and mobility
  • help you keep to a healthy weight
  • make you feel better about yourself.

You and your physiotherapist can decide on the best exercise for you. Whatever your fitness level, your physiotherapist will support and encourage you.

Teaching you mobilising, stretching and strengthening exercises

Your physiotherapist will assess the range of movement of your joints and your muscle strength. You and your physiotherapist can work towards achieving your full potential and best functional outcome using manual techniques and exercises.