Patients delay physio according to new research

Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of physiotherapy patients waited a month or more before seeking treatment after sustaining an injury or experiencing pain according to research released today by not-for-profit healthcare organisation Nuffield Health. Of these patients, 35 per cent also thought the injury would heal on its own without treatment.

The survey questioned 379 Nuffield Health patients who received physiotherapy for pain or injury not related to surgery[1]. A quarter (25.3 per cent) of responses further revealed that they incorrectly thought they would need a GP referral in order to receive physiotherapy. However when physiotherapy was undertaken, over a third of patients (37 per cent) ended up having fewer physiotherapy sessions than they expected and over half (53 per cent) were surprised at the difference it made to their pain. As a result, over three-quarters (76.5 per cent) of patients questioned felt more confident in preventing pain or re-injury after treatment.

John Doyle, Nuffield Health’s Professional Head of Physiotherapy said: “Accessing physiotherapy sooner helps patients understand what they need to do to get better as quickly as possible. Sometimes patients delay accessing treatment as they think they need a referral from their GP or because they are not sure if physiotherapy can help them. Many patients are surprised at the difference the help of a physiotherapist makes. Physiotherapists work with patients to create individualised treatment programmes that not only help patients get better but stay better in the long term.”

Nuffield Health also surveyed some of its physiotherapists[2] and found the most common areas of the body patients ask them to treat are knees, shoulders and lower back, with the top causes of pain being sedentary lifestyles and workplace injuries. Work related back pain is a major ill health condition in the UK and led to 2,957,000 lost working days in 2014/15 according to the Health and Safety Executive.[3] The average number of days lost per case is 13.3 days.

Nuffield Health have the largest network of physiotherapists outside of the NHS. For further information on its physiotherapy services and to book an initial appointment online visit  Existing Nuffield Health gym members also receive a 20 per cent discount off the initial appointment. Nuffield Health has also released a new film dispelling the myths believed about physiotherapy.

[1] Nuffield Health survey of 379 UK patients who received physiotherapy at Nuffield Health or through its  fusion network - July 2016

[2] Nuffield Health survey of 209 Nuffield Health physiotherapists -  January 2016

[3] Health Services Executive, Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder Statistics, Great Britain, 2015,, retrieved May 2016

Last updated Monday 31 October 2016

First published on Sunday 18 September 2016