Should I See A Doctor Or Physio First?

So you've sustained an injury - one that isn't just a niggle that might go away in a few days!

You know you need to see someone, but you're not really sure where to start - a doctor, a physiotherapist, or the hospital?!

It's not a great feeling, and you're certainly not the first to be faced with this conundrum, so let us help solve your problem.

We can tell you exactly who you need to see, and when. 

Depending on your condition or your injury, you might see a doctor first, or you might skip the doctor and come straight to a physiotherapist.


When You Should See A Doctor First

If you’ve done a massive injury, where your bone is poking out of your skin and you’re in a really bad way, that is when you should go and see the doctor first (or the Emergency Department!).

Another option might be that you have a chronic health condition or chronic pain that lasts longer than three months - that is a good time to see a doctor because you can get a special EPC referral to see a physio and get Medicare rebates on up to 5 consults (you can read more about EPC plans HERE - Can I Get Medicare Rebates For Physiotherapy?)

The other time you should see a doctor is if you have a work injury or a car accident and you need physiotherapy as a result.

To get treatment under those programs, the WorkCover program or the CTP car insurance program, you need to have a doctor’s referral to come and see us - that way, we can bill the insurance company directly and you won’t be out of pocket at all.


When You Should See A Physiotherapist First

For most other things, seeing a physiotherapist first is actually one of the best things you can do.

We can diagnose your problem really specifically and accurately, and sometimes better than a GP, because a GP see a whole range of things, whereas physiotherapists specialise in muscle and joint injuries.

Therefore, we can diagnose effectively, we can begin your treatment earlier and we can get you back to moving well and feeling great quicker.

Physio's can refer for certain types of x-ray’s that get bulk billed, and we can also refer for other types of imaging (CT scans, MRI or diagnostics ultrasound) and get that process started earlier. 

Some of those images don’t get bulk billed if they are referred from a physio, but it means that the process will be quicker.

If you want a bulk billed image, it’s best to go and see a doctor, but if you see a physiotherapist first we can diagnose your problem, we can put in place interim measures (for example: strapping, a moon boot, an assistive device, a splint, cast, or a brace) if that’s what’s needed, and we can get the rehab process started sooner.

This is an alternative to waiting to see a doctor, the cost of a GP consult, and them telling you only to come and see a physio anyway!

Physiotherapy can get the rehab process started really quickly, and if you need to go and see a specialist, that’s when we know the best time to refer you on.

We can help you out with that referral process - it might mean going to see a GP and then a specialist, but we know that process, we have great relationships with all the GP’s and all the orthopaedic specialists in our area.



Your best option in almost every situation is to come and see a physio first - it's really quick, really easy and we can get the ball rolling.

If later on if you need to see a doctor, we know when that is and we’re more than happy to point you in the right direction.

A lot of people are confused about this situation, but this should really help.

If you have any muscle pain, joint pain, bone pain, ligament pain or any nerve pain that’s our domain - that’s what we do, that’s our bread and butter we see it all the time, everyday.  

You can usually get an appointment within 24 hours, we’ll get the ball rolling, get you off to a doctor when you need it, and get you back moving well, feeling great as soon as possible.