Your appointment

Here you will find full details of the referral process and how you receive treatment from our service.


image of mouse and keyboardYou are seen by a clinician of Dorset Musculoskeletal Services after your GP has referred you.

Your GP will have assessed your problem and made this referral by either a letter to us, or electronically via the 'Choose & Book' system. This gives you the opportunity to choose an appointment via your own computer, (if you have one) or by telephone. Sometimes this can be done at the doctor's surgery. Usually the earliest appointments will be offered to you.

Once the referral is received and you have been allocated an appointment, these details will be sent to your home address along with an information leaflet about the service.

You will then know your appointment time and location.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, the following 10 helpful points can make assessment and examination much easier which helps in reaching a correct diagnosis.

  1. Try to have a rough idea of when and how the problem started.
  2. How has the problem progressed?
  3. Make a short note of what difficulties you are having on a day-to-day basis, due to the problem.
  4. Is the problem worsening? Staying the same? Or has it improved a little over time?
  5. What movements/actions aggravate the problem - and what seems to ease it?
  6. Make sure that the area of your body can be examined. i.e. wearing shorts if a knee problem, can help. The area in question needs to be looked at properly.
  7. If you have been given any devices or supports which relate to your problem, it's best to bring these along so we can see them. (For example, if you have been given orthotics or foot supports for your arches in your feet, it would be good to see if these are having the desired effect).
  8. If you have tried any other treatment, please tel us, especially if anything has helped at all. If you had any physiotherapy, what did it entail? What exercises were you given?
  9. Arrange to be slightly early for your appointment as most patients are seen without any delay.
  10. Make a note of any operations, medical problems and medications you take.

During Your Appointment

Your appointment may take up to 30 minutes.

A full history will be taken and detailed examination will be carried out by a practitioner. Any concerns you may have can be addressed and discussed. Always feel free to ask for clarification if you have not understood what has been said.

close-up of shoulder pictureThe general procedure for an initial consultation will be as follows:

  • Introduction by the practitioner
  • Series of questions about your problem, see above for typical types of questions.
  • Examination of the area in question; thorough in-depth tests will help us find the cause of your problem.
  • Discussion of findings and previous investigations
  • Diagnosis (if possible at this stage).

    If not possible then referral for more tests may be appropriate (example: MRI Scan, Xray, blood tests)
  • Treatment of your problem.

    Treatment may typically consist of injections, exercises, correct and specific picture of needle and cortisone advice, lifestyle modification.

    Where appropriate you may also be referred on to another healthcare professional for further treatment. This may include podiatry, physiotherapy, pain clinic or on occasion, a second opinion is helpful.
    An epidural may also be offered as a treatment.
    Please see our Epidural Service section for more information.

    As mentioned earlier, sometimes it is appropriate to refer you to see an orthopaedic consultant surgeon. This will be fully explained and the referral will be made at the end of your consultation.

End of The Consultation

Once your problem has been properly assessed and examined, the practitioner will be able to inform you of the findings.

computer image of spine with back painAny further tests and/or referrals will be arranged and clearly explained to you.

If you have been given treatment, you may be followed up as appropriate. This typically may mean having another appointment at a later date, or telephoning you to find out how things have gone.

On occasion, we may give you the opportunity to contact our service directly incase the symptoms of the same condition deteriorate or do not improve. You may then refer yourself back within the agreed period of time.

If you have been referred to another healthcare professional or for a surgical opinion, you will recieve another appointment letter directly from them.

If you are not happy about anything in the consultation please discuss this with the practitioner. We are always trying to improve and accommodate the patients we see.

Please see our complaints procedure (link will open another window) if your problem or concern has not been resolved.

Dorset Musculoskeletal (MSK) Outpatient Physiotherapy