I Tried Physiotherapy… It didn’t work

“I’ve seen a Chiropractor before, it didn’t work……. Should I see a Physiotherapist?”

“I normally see my Physio, it’s not working anymore… Should I see a Chiropractor?”

Every health practitioner has heard the similar form of complaint, where a patient reports having tried treatment X or Y  from discipline A or B but had gotten no results. In some rare occasions a patient may be mismanaged by their previous practitioner, however this is very unlikely.

After listening to their past experiences and treatment – I would usually discover a number of things and provide a response along the lines of:

“Your previous practitioner has highlighted all the important pieces of the puzzle, we can see where he is coming from. Right now it is important to find a way to put all the pieces in the right order”

This is because I firmly believe that in health there is no one true route in helping a patient. Different practitioners may find different things to work on and often times arrive at the same conclusion. I also believe in the integrated systems model (Whole person model) whereby a multitude of factors and reasons could lie behind a disorder, pain or impairment. Thus a team effort and multidisciplinary approach usually has to be undertaken.

My advice to patients seeking help would be:

  • Find a practitioner who cares – while practitioner skill may play a huge role, the practitioner who cares will often times try their utmost best in helping you & will often aid you in achieving a better outcome.
  • Seek a Multidisciplinary Approach/ Team Approach – Each discipline is unique and excels at different things; some allied health disciplines can overlap and treat a variety of similar conditions. Unfortunately practitioners can tend to be biased towards their own approaches particularly if they feel their treatment model can make a meaningful difference. A patient walking into an ‘only’ chiropractic practice may be led on to believe that only chiropractic intervention will aid them. A similar scenario may apply to any other discipline. Unfortunately no one discipline can be complete and holistic as each has different strengths, limitations and different treatment principals- often times a teamwork and cross treatment approach is required.
  • Have discussions with your Practitioner & Always Be Honest – Did you feel worse off after a treatment? Do you feel like treatment is not quite working? Is there a particular intervention that you dislike? As practitioners we appreciate it when a patient is honest and brings up discussion – it helps us tailor our approach to help them better and at times it helps fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. An old tutor of mine used to say “If you talk to a patient you’ll learn about their condition, if you talk to a patient long enough – they’ll tell you how to fix them”. The better your practitioner gets to know you – the better they can treat you.
  • Give it some time – Some injuries take weeks to heal, poor movement habits/ patterns take time to correct and chronic conditions take even longer to ‘wind down’. Give your body a chance to respond to treatment, changes from treatment may not be significant on the first visit. Let your practitioner work through a problem list.
  • Were you listening to your practitioner? – There are patients who do not follow everything their practitioner advises simply because it may feel impractical or simply not important. Other times a practitioner may present hard facts that might just be difficult to confront. There are patients who jump from one practitioner to another until they “hear what they want to hear”. Changing practitioners in these situations may not rectify the issue at hand and sometimes could land a person deeper into a downward spiral. Put quite simply – there are reasons practitioners say what they say.
  • Does your practitioner Refer on? – There are times where allied health intervention or alternative therapy will only get a patient to the half way point. This is where onward referral is important as a patient may require medical, surgical intervention or even a further investigation by a specialist.
  • Every practitioner is different – Health is a massive field. There are different schools of thought out there. Just because one Doctor couldn’t properly diagnose a condition does not mean all Doctors will not be able to help.

Jumping between practices and disciplines and listening to different answers from various health professionals can be very frustrating, both physically and mentally exhausting, costly and time consuming. The Perth Wellness Centre vision is to be able to treat the “whole person” from a multidisciplinary effort. A collaboration between disciplines and the sharing of knowledge will enable practitioners to help patients holistically.

If you are in need of help, feel free to contact our friendly staff or Call: (08) 9321 1964


HIGGS, J. (2008). Clinical reasoning in the health professions. Amsterdam, BH/Elsevier.

JONES, M. A., & RIVETT, D. A. (2004). Clinical reasoning for manual therapists. Edinburgh, Butterworth Heinemann.

AKÇEŞME, B., BAKTIR, H., & STEELE, E. (2016). Interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in humanities. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.