When I was in my early twenties, I fell out of a tree.
I was pretty high up and somehow just let go, bounced down a few boughs and landed flat on my back. Because I was still in pain a few days later and unable to move, I eventually dragged myself to the Physio. When my physio asked what had happened I was too embarrassed to admit I was a 20 year old with a penchant for climbing trees, so I told her I slipped at work.
It was several sessions later of her being confused as to why things weren’t matching up before I finally admitted how I’d really hurt my back. Then things got better much faster.
The point being, as Physiotherapists, we use the information you give us with our clinical assessment to solve a problem or a puzzle. Without the right information we can be hunting for clues in the wrong place or miss something important. I understand that there can be barriers to telling the whole story (as I learnt from my own experience) but perhaps it will reassure you to know that legally Physiotherapists are obligated to keep all the details of your consultation completely confidential. And on top of that, we make it our mission to ensure we are a place you feel supported, accepted for exactly who you are, and not judged. Throughout my career, there have been numerous times patients have admitted they feel embarrassed telling me details, and the offending details vary greatly between patients, but your awkward truths are nothing to be ashamed of, and by trusting your Physiotherapist and telling them the truth we can all work towards the best solution for you.
Not wanting to admit you are struggling with a particular activity or movement because you think you should be able to do it, or that your physio will judge your level of fitness.
FACT: Your Physio is not judging your perceived level of fitness, nor do we decide someone’s worth by how well or otherwise they can do a sport/dance/movement. Everybody is important.
Not wanting to acknowledge the impact your weight is having on your life for fear of judgment or reprimand. Similarly not wanting to discuss any food anxieties or weight loss you may be experiencing.
FACT: Inadequate nutrition can affect healing times, and weight fluctuations are an important clue for many injuries or conditions. Similarly increased weight and your physical goals are important to disclose to help your Physio work with you toward goals that you really want.
These are far more common than you might think, and nothing to be ashamed of.
FACT: Understanding the way you injured yourself significantly speeds up the process to diagnosis and recovery. And again, your Physiotherapist is not judging you.
Unfortunately, it is far too common for the LGBTQIA+ community to have experienced shame or judgement while receiving health and medical care. Our therapists, apart from just being kind and open-minded human beings, train and upskill to ensure we are providing the most welcoming space we can. You don’t have to come out to your Physiotherapist, or explain anything you don’t feel comfortable with, however when you think your history might be relevant to the pain you are experiencing, talk to us.
FACT: We are here for you, and to help find a solution for your presentation. This is a safe space for all people, however you identify.
Ever experienced that gut sinking feeling when you realise you’re going to need more sessions that you can afford. Hands up if you’ve ever nodded enthusiastically to the plan, rebooked, and then written yourself a reminder to cancel your appointment and cried on the way home.
FACT: Management plans are decided upon collaboratively, and the more honest you are about any limitations gives your Physio the ability to work out a plan that actually works for you. We too understand financial stress and that priorities vary at different points in your life.
I hope this has empowered you to feel confident and unashamed of any “awkward truths” you may be keeping from your Physiotherapist. Your sessions are a collaborative effort, and you may have some crucial puzzle pieces tucked in your pocket. At Performance Medicine, one of our core values, and a motto we live by is: We Get It – This Is About You.
We are here for you. So let’s work together to help you heal, recover, rehabilitate, and smash those goals!