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Key facts

  • Physiotherapy uses physical techniques to help treat medical conditions and injuries.
  • Physiotherapists are registered healthcare practitioners trained in the structure and function of the human body and its movement.
  • Physiotherapists can diagnose and treat a broad range of conditions.

What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy uses physical techniques to help treat conditions and injuries. Physiotherapy can help:

  • improve movement and function
  • reduce pain and stiffness
  • improve quality of life

Physiotherapists are registered healthcare practitioners. All physiotherapists must be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia. They must be qualified, have insurance and be continuing their professional education.

You can check if your physiotherapist is registered or make a complaint about a physiotherapist on the Physiotherapy Board of Australia website.

What does a physiotherapist do?

Physiotherapists are trained in the structure and function of the human body and its movement.

Physiotherapists can diagnose and treat a broad range of medical conditions. These conditions may affect your:

  • bones
  • muscles
  • nerves
  • lungs
  • other parts and systems of the body

When you go to see a physiotherapist, they might:

  • massage areas of your body
  • provide heat treatment
  • manipulate your joints
  • stretch your muscles
  • give you exercises to do
  • use acupuncture or dry needling
  • recommend hydrotherapy

Your physiotherapist may also help with things such as aids, splints, casts, or crutches. Physiotherapists treat people of all ages.

How can physiotherapy help me?

A physiotherapist can help treat many conditions.

Musculoskeletal problems that physiotherapists can help with include:

Other conditions or situations where physiotherapists can help include:

Physiotherapists can also be involved in:

  • treatment for developmental delays in children
  • occupational health
  • palliative care

Physiotherapists often work together with your doctor and other health care workers as part of a treatment team.

Where can I get physiotherapy treatment?

Physiotherapists provide treatment in a range of settings, including:

  • clinics
  • hospitals
  • community health centres
  • aged care facilities
  • sports organisations
  • disability services
  • rehabilitation clinics

Am I eligible for physiotherapy?

You don't have to see your doctor for a referral to see a physiotherapist. But it can be a good idea to see your doctor to:

  • talk about treatment options
  • get a referral for a specific condition

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

What is the cost of physiotherapy?

Costs for physiotherapy can vary — you should check before you make an appointment.

Medicare may cover some visits for certain conditions, but only if your doctor has referred you and you have a Chronic Disease Management Plan.

If you have private health insurance, it might cover physiotherapy. Check what your plan covers before your appointment.

Resources and support

Visit the Australian Physiotherapy Association to find out more about physiotherapy or to find a physiotherapist.

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023

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