What Happens at a Physical Therapy Appointment?

There's nothing to be nervous about a physical therapy appointment.

If you have finally made the decision to schedule your first physical therapy appointment, you may have some concerns or worries.

Taking the first step and scheduling your first physical therapy appointment can be nerve-wracking. Even if you are reminded that there’s nothing to worry about, it’s natural to feel anxious and nervous when trying out any medical and healthcare approach.

In today’s post, we’ll share some helpful information on what you can expect at a physical therapy session. We hope the information you find here will help calm your nerves so that you can be on your way to your recovery and better health.

Physical Therapists Are Certified Healthcare Professionals

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals trained to address the prevention and recovery of patients from injury, illness, or surgery.

Suppose you are having issues doing your normal physical activities. In that case, especially if you have recently suffered from an accident, a sports or work-related injury, or illness, your general physician may refer you to a physical therapist.

Components of a Physical Therapy Appointment

At a physical therapy appointment, your overall health will be evaluated.

The American Physical Therapy Association states that a physical therapy appointment can be broken down into three components.

  • Physical examination and assessment
  • Diagnosis
  • Creation and implementation of the physical therapy treatment plan

Your physical therapist will have to consistently ensure that these three components are seen through throughout the wellness process.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these components.

Physical Examination and Assessment

The first appointment will start with a comprehensive examination. Be prepared to answer questions about your overall health and condition and symptoms. In this stage, transparency, openness, and honesty are essential.

Your physical therapist needs to have a thorough understanding of your condition. This understanding helps him or her come up with the best treatment plan for you.

Here are some examples of questions you may need to answer.

  • What are your symptoms?
  •  Where exactly in your body, are you feeling pain?
  •  How severe or mild is the pain?
  •  How often does it occur?
  •  What is your medical history?

The next part of the evaluation is a physical assessment. You will be tested on your range of motion, flexibility, strength, posture, balance, coordination, and muscle functions.

During your first appointment, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes. You can wear short sleeves if you are experiencing arm or shoulder pain. If the pain and discomfort are felt in your legs, you can wear shorts.


This stage is where the physical therapist will have to work closely with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan.

You will be asked about the health goals you want to achieve after completing the physical therapy sessions.

Whether it’s restoring mobility, reducing pain, or preventing injuries – all these are taken into consideration during the diagnosis process.

Also, this is the part where you should raise all the questions and concerns you may have. You need to understand precisely what the treatment plan needs from you to achieve the most favorable outcomes.

The Customized Treatment Plan

Not all physical therapy treatment plans are the same. We all have different circumstances, medical history, conditions, symptoms, and health goals.

Thus, it’s essential for a physical therapist to come up with a customized treatment plan to address your health issues.

There may be different therapies included in the treatment plan with varying levels. As you go to each of your physical therapy appointment, your therapist will closely monitor your recovery. This will determine if the treatment plan is working or if it needs some alteration to make it more effective.

If the therapist assigns some at-home stretches and exercises you need to do as part of the treatment plan, you must commit to doing them.