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Preparing for Your First Therapy Appointment

Whether you’re visiting a physical therapist because of an injury or a sore joint, here’s an in-depth look into your first visit.

If you have difficulty and pain performing your regular daily activities or suffer from an injury that causes pain or discomfort, your first thought may be to see your primary care doctor or an orthopedic specialist. One of the many treatments they might suggest is to visit a physical therapist, who can provide focused treatments and exercises based on your specific situation in order to help you return to your previous level of function.

The first visit you have with your physical therapist is called an initial evaluation. During this session, your physical therapist will spend time with you to learn about your condition and how it has affected your life. They will then take specific measurements in order to assess what is causing your problem, which allows them to put together a treatment plan specific to you.

Prior to your first appointment, you may wish to fill out our New Patient Paperwork by clicking here. This will allow you to take your time and complete the paperwork at your convenience. It is important to bring a few things with you on your first appointment, including:

  • Your physical therapy prescription

  • Your insurance card and photo ID

The first part of your initial evaluation involves an interview with your therapist, during which they will ask you several questions in regards to your current issue, including:

  • When and how did your problem begin?

  • How did you feel / what was your mobility like prior to the problem?

  • What symptoms have you been experiencing and for how long?

  • How has your problem changed since it began?

  • Have you received any treatments for this problem already?

  • What makes your problem better, and what makes it worse?

  • What goals do you wish to accomplish through therapy?

While your therapy prescription will provide some information regarding your condition, these questions are important for a therapist to know, so be prepared to answer these questions. It’s important to know other personal medical information, such as medication that you may take or family medical history. You may consider taking a family member along with you to help you remember details and take notes about what is discussed during your visit.

After your physical therapist discusses your condition with you, they will perform their examination. This includes assessing impairments that may be causing your problem or that may be affected by your injury. These measurements will provide your physical therapist with a clear idea of a treatment plan that will help you recover. In order to access the affected area properly, it is important to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move comfortably. During your examination, your physical therapist may evaluate the following:

  • Range of motion

  • Strength

  • Balance

  • Flexibility

  • Posture

  • Mobility and movement patterns

After the interview and evaluation, your physical therapist will explain their assessment of your condition and explain the treatment plan that they will implement. At this time, they will discuss the expected course of your rehabilitation process as well as the goals of your treatment. Exercise is one of the most important tools to help you both feel and move better, and it will be one of the main staples of your rehabilitation program. Your therapist will teach and review exercises with you during each session, picked specifically to help improve your condition. They will also prescribe specific exercises for you to complete in a home exercise program.

Other modalities may be used in order to help decrease your pain and improve your mobility and muscle function, such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound. If at any time you have questions regarding any aspect of your treatment plan, do not hesitate to ask!

Seeing a specialist for the first time can easily cause anxiety, and know what to expect from your first visit can help alleviate some of this and allow you to focus on getting better. We are here to help you get better with quality care from start to finish. We invite you to call us at 703.433.2500 to schedule an appointment with one of the physical therapists here at Arthritis & Sports or click here to request an appointment. To stay up-to-date on the latest news and tips from us, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for our monthly newsletter for even more information sent straight to your inbox!



Arthritis & Sports is the premier orthopaedics practice in Northern Virginia. Our team of specialty-trained physicians offers the latest treatment options for the full spectrum of orthopaedic sub-specialties - all under one roof.


From nonsurgical treatments like orthobiologics and physical therapy, to massage therapy and  nutrition counseling, we are dedicated to providing you with exceptional care from injury through rehabilitation.

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