Can physiotherapy make you feel worse before it gets better?

While many patients perceive physical therapy as a process that increases pain (with physical therapists sometimes referred to jokingly as “torturing” patients), the reality is that a physiotherapist’s purpose is to reduce pain, not increase it.

While it is true that you may experience discomfort as you engage with a tailored treatment program, the program is designed to heal and strengthen your body. Over time, a physiotherapy regimen that works should result in less pain, and greater functionality.

You can attend your therapy sessions with confidence, knowing you and your physio have the same goal – to set you on the path to better health and a more fulfilling life by reducing the pain you currently experience.

One of the biggest distinctions that physiotherapists draw when dealing with your experience of pain after therapy is that between discomfort and actual pain. Discomfort and soreness are to be expected, because physical therapy, in order to work, you must train your body. This is the same principle that applies when building strength through exercising or working out. The muscles must experience a certain amount of stress, which can lead to irritation and soreness. It’s also where the proverb “no pain, no gain” comes from!

This stress encourages the muscle to heal and strengthen, and so this soreness can be considered “good pain.” This is the same type of beneficial discomfort you might experience after a good workout or a new physical activity.

As a result, patients should embrace any soreness after their physical therapy session as a sign that their regimen is working.

We will continue this in Why do I feel worse after my physiotherapy appointment?

Have any more questions?

Please contact us here or email us on if you have any questions or would like to talk about your specific condition. One of our team would be happy to assist you.