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Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy is the treatment of an injury or condition which is impacting  the joints, muscles, ligaments, bone or tendons.

Also known as: you may also see musculoskeletal physiotherapy referred to as MSK

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Everything you need to know

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy is the treatment of an injury or condition which is impacting the joints, muscles, ligaments, bone or tendons.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy can help with:

  • Joint pain (such as knee pain)
  • Sports injuries
  • Complex pain conditions (such as arthritis)
  • Post-surgery rehabilitation

After an injury, or if you notice symptoms such as pain and stiffness flaring up, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor and have a comprehensive assessment sooner rather than later. This is because putting up with a problem can result in more damage and needing more invasive treatment in the long run.

Before therapy

Some people will be referred for MSK physiotherapy by their GP or a specialist doctor.

However, you can refer yourself for MSK if you would like some help after an injury, are experiencing longer term pain and stiffness, or if you would simply like some advice on reducing injury risk or improving your strength and flexibility.

At your first appointment, your MSK physiotherapist will ask you about your issue and what you would like to achieve from therapy. They will also conduct a physical examination and run you through some movements so they can ascertain your current range of motion, strength and function, and pain levels.

After this, if your issue is more severe, they may refer you for a scan or on to a specialist consultant. Alternatively, they will work with you to set goals and will create a tailored programme. This could include exercises to practice at home, massage, and physical aides such as a splint, compression garments or tools to help you exercise.

During therapy

Our MSK physiotherapists have helped many patients recover after an injury or surgery, as well as those suffering from long-term issues. If you have sustained an injury, have had surgery, or are suffering from a chronic condition, our therapists will teach you how to improve your movement and flexibility, increase your strength and reduce your pain.

There are many types of physiotherapy techniques. We offer:

  • Tailored exercise programmes
  • Gym-based rehab and strengthening
  • Joint mobilisation and soft tissue techniques
  • Acupuncture
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Return to sports and end-stage rehab

Should your physio prescribe an exercise routine, they will show you the proper technique for each exercise at our on-site gym so you feel confident when you get home.

After therapy

Typically, you should see your physiotherapist every fortnight to start with and then less regularly as your symptoms improve. An MSK programme can vary in length from a few weeks to a few months. During this time, you will also need to practice exercises at home regularly and consistently. The better you comply with your therapist’s programme, the more you should improve.

If you are struggling with any part of your treatment, let your therapist know, as they will be able to modify your programme or suggest other treatment options.

How to pay for your treatment

If you’re… paying for yourself

Did you know you don’t need private medical insurance to come to St John & St Elizabeth Hospital? As a self-pay patient, you can access safe, outstanding quality health care at times to suit you.

For scans and tests, as well as to see most consultants, you’ll still need to be referred by a medical professional like your GP, but as a self-pay patient, the process is more straightforward. You won’t need authorisation from an insurance provider, and you’ll have greater choice of therapist and appointment times.

If you’re… insured

St John & St Elizabeth Hospital is approved by all major medical insurance companies. If you have a personal private health insurance policy, or your company provide it for you, you can use it to pay for your care from your initial consultation through to treatment, surgery and aftercare such as physiotherapy. Not all private health insurance plans cover the same things. It’s very important to check exactly what you are covered for with your insurance provider.



You can book an appointment to see one of our MSK physiotherapists or alternatively your GP or consultant doctor may refer you to our service. If you refer yourself, you can either call us or send an email explaining your problem. Your request will be triaged by a member of our team who will let you know whether you should book an appointment with us or book to see one of our consultants in the first instance.


Pre-op appointment

If you have surgery arranged with your doctor, they may recommend you see physio to start pre-hab. This is the process of strengthening the muscles around the affected body part to aid with your recovery after your operation. This may be for several weeks before your surgery.


Treatment plan

At your first appointment, you’ll go through your medical history, how the current problem is limiting you, and your goals for therapy. You will undergo a thorough assessment including range of motion, pain, and strength as well as go through some specific tests. Your therapist will create a tailored treatment plan that could include splinting, an exercise programme or activity modification.


Post-op assessment

If you have had surgery, when permitted by your surgeon, you will return to your physiotherapist who can assess your current function and determine your needs.



You will have regular follow-up appointments, which will continue until your problem is either resolved or you are effectively able to manage it. If you have had surgery, you will need several follow-up appointments with your physiotherapist at appropriate intervals to help decrease your pain, restore your movement and strength, and return to normal activities as soon as possible.