How Do You Know If You Need A Doctor Or Physio For Your Knee Injury?

Article by Scott Schulte

How Do You Know If You Need A Doctor or Physio For A Knee Injury?

Knee pain or knee injuries can be a common occurrence whether you’re a seasoned athlete, weekend warrior or infrequently active. If you’ve sustained a knee injury and need to see someone, you may be unsure where to start – a physiotherapist or the doctor?

Here are some points to consider when deciding who to see first.

When Should You Consult Your Doctor First?

Please consult your doctor if you have any broken skin or bone injuries. If you require wound care, your doctor is the expert. Likewise, if your normal bone alignment appears distorted from trauma or you have extreme and unrelenting pain, you should immediately go to a doctor or the emergency department. They will be able to assist you with prescribed pain relief and further investigation of your injury. You should also visit your doctor if you have any warmth, redness and swelling around your knee with pain unrelated to movement. These are potential infection symptoms that require urgent medical attention.

In non-urgent knee conditions, your doctor will assess your knee in the clinic. They will use their professional expertise to determine if you require some prescribed pain relief, referral to a physiotherapist, surgeon, imaging or another medical specialist. Some doctors have additional training in musculoskeletal and sports injuries, which is very beneficial in assessing and managing knee injuries.

Luckily most cases of knee pain respond to non-surgical and non-urgent care to restore normal knee function. Knee rehabilitation is where your highly skilled knee physiotherapist can assist you.

When Should You See Your Physiotherapist?

Your physiotherapist can assist you in diagnosing your knee injury and promptly commencing treatment. Physiotherapists are highly trained in the clinical diagnosis and management of knee injuries, sports and musculoskeletal injuries.

Your physiotherapist will also customise your rehabilitation to optimise your recovery and assist you in returning to full function as fast as possible. Throughout the rehabilitation, your physiotherapist will maintain clear communication with your GP, if you have one, and provide updates as you progress. If they feel that a second opinion, such as an Orthopaedic Surgeon assessment is warranted, they will direct your management accordingly.

If required, your physiotherapist may immobilise you or fit a knee brace to support and protect your knee during the acute stages of injury. Plus, they may refer you for imaging if your clinical presentation warrants additional diagnostic testing.

Your Decision

Whether you consult your doctor or physio first is entirely your decision. Either way, you don’t need a referral to see your doctor or a physiotherapist. But, if you require an appointment with a surgeon or diagnostic imaging, you will require a referral.

If you are unsure, please call us at PhysioWorks. One of our knee physiotherapists will assist your decision process based on your concerns.

More info: