7 Common Myths About Physiotherapy in Switzerland. Busted.

At Physio First we’ve helped well over 1’000 patients to feel better and get back to an active and pain-free life. As physiotherapists we’re not only confident in our own system though. We’re bullish on the future of the profession and the potential to change people’s lives! Let’s bust a few common myths and misconceptions about physiotherapy.

1. Myth: Physiotherapy is only for injuries and accidents.

Fact: Physiotherapists do a lot more than just stretch or strengthen weak muscles after an injury or surgery. While massage and stretching is an important part of our toolkit, physiotherapists are skilled at treating potential problems before they lead to more serious injuries or disabling conditions — from carpal tunnel syndrome and frozen shoulder, to chronic headaches and lower back pain, to name a few.

Actually the key aims of this blog are to educate people on the benefits of physical exercise, but also to make people aware of the warning signs of potentially more serious problems. To be clear: the sooner you address any problem, the easier it is to fix. Wait until your pain is so bad that you HAVE TO see a doctor, and your downtime and suffering is going to be much longer and more severe, potentially affecting other parts of your life more seriously.

2. Myth: Physiotherapy isn’t covered by insurance.

Fact: If you’re resident in Switzerland then physiotherapy is covered in your basic health insurance or “Grundversicherung”. Many private policies (Zusatzversicherung) also cover massage and preventative treatment.

Beyond insurance coverage, physiotherapy has proven to reduce costs by helping people avoid unnecessary imaging scans, surgery, and prescription drugs. Physiotherapy can also lower healthcare costs by helping prevent injury and addressing conditions before they become chronic.

3. Myth: I need a doctor’s referral to see a physiotherapist.

Fact: If your doctor prescribes physiotherapy for you then your treatment will be covered by your basic health insurance. Many patients seek out our services directly though, or consult their doctor as to whether physiotherapy can help them. Quite often if a problem is treated early enough it can preclude a much longer course of treatment later on. And we’re professionals: if we think you ought to see a doctor we’ll tell you right away.

4. Myth: Surgery is my only option.

Fact: OK, for some injuries and ailments surgery may be your only option. Your doctor is an expert and he or she can guide you best on whether you need surgery. In many cases though, physiotherapy has been shown to be as effective as surgery in treating a wide range of conditions—from rotator cuff tears and degenerative disk disease, to meniscal tears and some forms of knee osteoarthritis.

Those who have recently seen a physiotherapist and experienced the results know this to be true. A recent survey in the US found that 79% of patients believe that physiotherapy can provide an alternative to surgery. Ask your doctor if physiotherapy is an alternative – they should have a very clear point of view on this.

5. Myth: Physiotherapy is painful.

Fact: Many people who have never visited a physiotherapist think physiotherapy is painful. In fact physiotherapists seek specifically to minimize your pain and discomfort — including chronic or long-term pain. At Physio First one of our guiding principles is to treat each patient individually. This means we work to relieve your pain first and and then to restore movement and function based on your individual goals. If you’re an athlete our goal is to restore your strength and range of motion back to the point where you can resume competition. If you’re not necessarily active for whatever reason then we’ll work to get rid of your pain first, and help resolve your problems and get you back to a point where you want to resume an active life.

The aim of any progressive physiotherapy treatment should be to get you feeling better, moving better and then ultimately in a position to live a better, healthier life!

6. Myth: Any health care professional can perform physical therapy.

Fact: Although most people know that physiotherapy can only be performed by a licensed physiotherapist, many still believe other health care professionals can also administer physiotherapy. The fact is training to become a physiotherapist in Switzerland requires four years of full-time education resulting in a Bachelor equivalent. Many physiotherapists continue their studies to pursue Masters level equivalent in areas such as Sport Physiotherapy or Orthopedics.

7. Myth: I can do physiotherapy myself.

Fact: Your participation is key to a successful treatment plan, but there’s a reason we dont just send you off with some exercises to do on your own. You’ll benefit most from the treatment if it’s accompanied by expert care and guidance for the full duration. A good physiotherapist will want to leverage his or her specialized education, clinical expertise, and the latest available evidence to evaluate your needs and make the most of the time you’re investing.

I want to be very open on this last point. My own personal mission is to get as many people as possible back to living and enjoying an active life. Helping people feel fit and healthy is why I chose to study physiotherapy in the first place. We know how much better life is when you feel good, and I’m passionate about helping people feel this better quality of life so they can motivate their friends and family to do more for themselves as well.

If you’re a patient of ours and you’ve previously been elsewhere for physiotherapy, you may have noticed how much extra treatment time you get at Physio First during your visit, and how it’s always 1:1 ? Or the flexibility we have to make sure everyone can get the treatment they need ? We’ve modelled our business around acheiving this “better you” goal.

It doesn’t stop there either. At Physio First we also actively engage with your doctor to keep them informed on the treatment and your progress, and we encourage them to give us feedback (go ahead and ask your doctor about this and ask them what they think about it). More perspective and context from your doctor means we can do a better job and it means better results for you.

Invest your time wisely. Rake in the returns.

Candidly, from a commercial perspective we’d be much better off if we offered the status quo, at least in the short term. But the fact is that’s just not why we got into this. Our focus is all about the transformation we can help you acheive. Getting you feeling better again and living a better life long after our work ends means a lot to us.

If you’re looking for a physiotherapist consider the time and effort you’re investing and seek out someone who’s going to give you the biggest return on that investment. Looking after your health is immensely important to us. If you have any questions or need advice, or you would like to know more about how we can help you, please get in touch with me personally, or visit us at our practice in Horgen.

Have a great day!



Feel Better. Move Better. Live Better.