When-to-Refer-a-Physiotherapist-to-Family
Georgiy Sekretaryuk
February 8, 2021
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When to Refer a Physiotherapist…to Family

Physicians bear the responsibility of referring someone to a physiotherapist (PT) when functional reconditioning or restoration is required after an injury, surgery, disease (for example), or to account for advancing age.

That said, have you (a non-physician) ever thought someone in your family may be experiencing chronic pain, and need help even though they will never admit it? With Family Day upon us in BC now it the perfect time to address the concern you have for your loved one. Looking for the following indicators that they indeed may need assistance from a PT.

5 Signs That It’s Time to Refer Someone in Your Family to a Trusted Physiotherapist


They Don’t Participate in Fun Family Activities

Have you noticed that over the last few months (or year, etc.) that someone in your family who used to be up for a hike, bike ride, or jog is now opting out more than participating? If out of character they may not be admitting that they are experiencing pain or discomfort in an area that makes running, playing golf or tennis, swimming, or other activity cumbersome. This not only impacts their activity and enjoyment, but that of the entire family who wants them to be a part of the group activity. It’s time to have a talk, and refer to them a physiotherapist.

They Are Always Tired

Does your loved one mope around the house and complain of being tired, indicating time and time again that they can’t get a good night’s rest? An inability to sleep can be deliberating and cause problems in a family household. The good news (in a roundabout way) is that poor sleep is quite often attributed to poor biomechanics and bad positioning. Instead of prescribing warm milk or OTC medications, refer them to your local physiotherapist first – it may make a world of difference.

They Are Not Doing Great at Work

Are they having trouble at work, and bringing that problem home with them? This may be associated with poor productivity which is very often linked to a physical impediment. For example, over 90 percent of people who suffer a migraine attack indicate that they must either miss work or can’t function normally, cutting their productivity by more than 50 percent. These headaches are commonly linked to a musculoskeletal disorder. Lower back pain is also a leading cause of missed (or poor performance at) work. This issue is compounded and leads to stress and anxiety when the household depends upon the family member as a primary bread-winner. Find out if chronic pain is getting in their way of their job, and refer them to a PT – a highly effective path towards renewed productivity.

They Make Weird Noises

We’re not talking about that one your uncle makes while sitting comfortably on the sofa after a hefty Thanksgiving Dinner. That said, it might be the sound he makes when he crouches to sit or gets up to stand. That’s right, if you find that your mother, father, aunt, uncle, sibling, or cousin makes that grunt of exerted effort when doing something as simple as getting up or down, or picking up an item from the table, don’t just chalk it up to advancing age. Instead, this acoustic symptom of overexertion may be accompanied by legarthy, pain, or compromised biomechanics. If the grunt has become louder and more frequent it may be time to refer them to a physiotherapist.

The Way They Move

Deep investigation or outright prying for details isn’t always required. You can quick identify if they are experiencing chronic pain by simply watching them as they perform daily activities around the yard, house, and home. If you see that they have trouble bending or turning without first having to give it careful thought, or if they often shake a limb as if to release tightness and discomfort, there may be an issue. The same is true if you catch them constantly rubbing their neck, shoulders, lower back, elbow, or thighs.


As the concerned party, we encourage you to call us to discuss the pain or loss of function with muscles, tissues, and tendons that your loved one may be experiencing. Since we offer telehealth PT services, it may be a great way to introduce them to the concept of physiotherapy as it can be done from the comforts of your/their own home. In fact, online physio is a great gateway to in-person care – should they be comfortable in taking that next step. Contact our Burnaby clinic today – if you like what you hear you can refer us to your family member and put them on the path to recovery and a better quality of life. They may resist at first, but after a few sessions they will be hugging you (without pain) in gratitude.

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