How many sessions do you need with a physio?

Physiotherapy, also known as physio, is an important part of recovery and rehabilitation for many injuries and medical conditions. Physiotherapists help people affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Physio plays a key role in getting you back to full health after an injury or surgery, as well as managing chronic conditions. But how do you know how many physio sessions you will need? Here is an in-depth look at the factors that determine the number of physio sessions required.

What does a physio do?

Physiotherapists help people recover and rehabilitate after an illness, injury or surgery. They aim to reduce pain, improve mobility and function, and prevent further injury. Some of the techniques a physio may use include:

  • Manual therapy – Hands-on techniques such as mobilization and manipulation to improve joint and soft tissue mobility.
  • Exercises – Prescribing specific stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises.
  • Education – Providing information on managing injuries and health conditions.
  • Massage – Soft tissue massage techniques to loosen tight muscles.
  • Assisted devices – Walking aids, taping or braces to support recovery.
  • Electrotherapy – TENS, ultrasound, heat/ice therapy to relieve pain.

The focus is on hands-on treatment and individually tailored exercise programs to help you regain strength, mobility, balance and function after injury or surgery. The goal is to enable you to return to your usual activities and sports.

Factors that determine number of physiotherapy sessions

There are several factors that influence how many physio sessions you will need. This depends on:

1. Type of condition or injury

The type of injury or condition you have affects how many treatments you will need. Simple sprains or strains may require only a handful of sessions over a few weeks. But more complex injuries like fractures, dislocations and tendon or ligament tears often need multiple sessions over several months.

Chronic conditions like arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease also usually need ongoing long term physiotherapy management. You may need regular physio sessions over months or years to optimize mobility and function.

2. Severity of injury

The severity of the injury impacts the rehab timeline. A mild ankle sprain may need a few weeks of physio, but a severe ankle fracture usually requires months of treatment. The more complex the injury, the longer the rehab period will be.

3. Post-surgery rehabilitation

Physiotherapy is a critical part of the rehabilitation process after surgery. The number of physio sessions needed will depend on the type of surgery – relatively minor procedures like a knee arthroscopy may need 4-6 weeks of physio, while a full knee replacement may require 3-6 months of rehab.

4. Your health and fitness

Your general health and fitness levels also influence the number of treatments required. Young athletes may progress quickly through rehab, while older less active people may progress more slowly. Good fitness, strength and flexibility can help you rehab faster.

5. Recommended treatment protocol

There are evidence-based clinical guidelines that outline the recommended physio treatment protocols for different conditions and surgeries. Your physio will tailor and progress your program based on these best-practice recommendations. More severe injuries and surgeries will require longer treatment courses.

6. How you respond to treatment

Every patient responds differently to physiotherapy treatment. The pace of your progress through rehab depends on how your body is healing and how you are responding to the customized exercises prescribed by your physio. Some patients progress quickly if they are actively participating in their rehab and completing their exercises consistently at home. Others who are less compliant may progress more slowly.

Average number of physiotherapy sessions for common injuries/conditions

As a general guide, the average number of physio sessions for some common orthopedic injuries and post-surgical rehab is:

Injury/Surgery Average Sessions
Ankle sprain (mild) 4-6
Ankle sprain (moderate/severe) 8-12
ACL reconstruction 12-20
Rotator cuff/shoulder surgery 15-25
Meniscus knee surgery 8-12
Total knee replacement 15-25
Total hip replacement 15-20
Cervical spine surgery 8-12
Lumbar spine surgery 10-15
Tendonitis (tennis/golfers elbow) 4-8

However, this can vary substantially based on the individual factors discussed above. Your physiotherapist will guide you on how many sessions you are likely to need during your initial assessment.

How often should you have physio sessions?

In the initial stages of rehabilitation after an injury or surgery, physio sessions are usually done 1-3 times per week. This allows enough time for recovery between treatments.

During the later stages of rehab when you are progressing with therapeutic exercises, sessions may be reduced to 1-2 times per week.

For chronic conditions or injury maintenance, sessions may be less frequent such as once every 1-2 weeks.

Discuss with your physio the recommended frequency of sessions for optimal recovery for your condition.

How long should physio sessions be?

A standard physiotherapy session is around 30-60 minutes. The hands-on treatment portion is usually 20-30 minutes, with the remainder of the time devoted to prescribing exercises and education.

Some clinics offer shorter 15-30 minute sessions, though the evidence suggests longer session lengths of 45-60 minutes are associated with better outcomes.

When should you stop having physio treatment?

Your physiotherapist will guide you on when you are ready to complete your course of treatment. Ending physio depends on:

  • Achieving the goals/expected outcomes of your rehabilitation program
  • Plateauing or no longer making progress
  • Resolving your symptoms and restoring normal movement and function
  • Being able to maintain progress with your home exercise program

Be guided by your physio rather than stopping sessions arbitrarily. Ensure your injury has stabilized, you have regained optimal function, and can manage ongoing rehabilitation exercises independently before completing treatment.

Can you have too much physiotherapy?

For most injuries and post-surgical rehab, there is very little risk of “overdoing” physiotherapy. The more engaged patients are in actively participating in their exercise rehab program, the faster recovery is usually achieved.

However, there are a few situations where too much physiotherapy may be detrimental:

  • Acute injuries – Too much intensive physio in the first few days after an injury can worsen inflammation, pain and swelling. Gentle movement rather than aggressive stretching and strengthening is preferable.
  • Overuse injuries – Tendonitis caused by repetitive overuse can be aggravated by excessive stretching and loading. Relative rest along with gradually progressing exercises is best.
  • Disc injuries – Aggressive spinal manipulation and mobility in the early stages of a bulging or herniated disc may delay healing. Gentle exercises are safer.

Your physio will tailor the timing, frequency and intensity of your program based on the stage of tissue healing to avoid overstressing the injury.

Maximizing the benefits from your physiotherapy sessions

To get the most out of your physiotherapy sessions:

  • Attend all recommended sessions consistently unless advised otherwise by your therapist
  • Arrive prepared for each session and actively participate in treatments
  • Provide feedback to your therapist on your symptoms and function
  • Ask questions and discuss any concerns with your physio
  • Do prescribed exercises and activities outside of physiotherapy sessions as instructed
  • Communicate openly with your physio about progress and any difficulties
  • Maintain a positive attitude and be an active partner in your rehabilitation


The number of physiotherapy sessions required depends on many factors including your specific injury, medical status, surgery type, severity, rehab goals and your response to treatment. For most conditions, 1-3 sessions per week for 4-12 weeks is typical, but this varies. Your physio will guide you on the appropriate number and duration of treatments. Being actively engaged in your rehabilitation program both in physio sessions and with home exercises will help optimize recovery.

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