After stress, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) account for the majority of days lost to sickness absence, with an average of 17 days taken off for each MSD episode (source

Health at Work, an independent review of sickness absence by Dame Carol Black and David Frost CBE recognises the importance of early intervention in such cases to facilitate a speedy return to the workplace.

At Hobson Health we believe that access to physiotherapy can help to avoid sickness absence due to musculoskeletal conditions, as well as facilitate a return to work.

We work closely with a number of hand-picked physiotherapy practices, selected for their occupational health acumen and have an on-site physiotherapist at our Stoke clinic.

For more information call us on 01782 574200 or email

What is physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is supportive hands-on treatment to help people recover from various physical symptoms to joints and soft tissues including muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons.

In the employment setting, this is usually related to either muscular strains or sprains from work or sporting activity, accidents or injuries or difficulty performing physical tasks due to pain, joint stiffness or reduced function.

Physiotherapy treatments are normally tailored to your specific needs and can include massage, manipulation, stretching, acupuncture, ultrasound therapy or heat or cold therapies along with self-help exercises. Physiotherapists are also expert at advising about activity and rehabilitation following injury.

Why am I being referred for physiotherapy? 

You will probably have reported some symptoms to your employer which are affecting your ability to do your normal job, whether you are off sick or not. The occupational health advisor will then have assessed your condition and recommended short-term physiotherapy to help reduce your pain and facilitate your return to normal functioning.

Is the physiotherapist qualified? 

All physiotherapists used by Hobson Health are fully qualified, experienced, insured and provide their own facilities.

Where do I have to go for the appointment?

This depends on your employer’s location and may be within a Hobson Health clinic or at other locations within the local community.  You will be advised about this and any relevant options available to you.

Your occupational health advisor will send a referral form to the agreed physiotherapy service who will contact you directly telephone to make the appointment.

Please wear loose and comfortable clothing for your sessions as you may need to get undressed. Females may wish to wear a vest top.

Your physiotherapist may be male or female.  Please contact Hobson Health if you have any problems in this respect.

How many sessions will I have? 

Your employer will typically support you with up to four sessions of physiotherapy.

The initial session will include a full history, assessment and evaluation of your symptoms and relevant health history.  If you have and have any written details such as X-ray or scan results or copies of relevant medical correspondence, these would be helpful for both the occupational health advisor and physiotherapist.  Please take details of your medication.

The physiotherapist will advise about any specific self-help exercises for you to complete between sessions and it is essential that you complete these regularly to get the most from your treatment.

Each of your following appointments will begin with a review of your symptoms and progress.

Is it confidential? 

Yes, the information about your health and treatments are treated as confidential.

Written records will be made and stored securely in the same way as medical records. These records do not get sent to your employer.

As part of your referral for physiotherapy, we ask the physiotherapist to send Hobson Health a brief summary of your treatment and progress at the end of your four sessions.  This helps us to review your health and fitness for work and whether further occupational health assessment or additional advice to your employer is needed.

Will I have to pay?

Your employer has agreed to fund these short-term physiotherapy sessions.

There may, however, be a tax liability as this is a benefit in kind.  Please discuss this with your employer, HR or payroll department for further information.

If your physiotherapy is for treatment of injuries sustained in an accident or for which you are making an insurance claim, such as a road traffic accident, you may have to repay the cost of these treatments.  You should check in your terms and conditions of employment or with your employer.

Additional treatment sessions are possible but you will need to pay for these on a private basis.    You will not have to pay for physiotherapy via the NHS.

Do I need to discuss this with my GP?

You will probably have already consulted your GP and had physiotherapy recommended.

The physiotherapy sessions provided by your employer are a short-term support measure while you are waiting for NHS physiotherapy treatment.  You are advised to activate this request via your GP to avoid any unnecessary delays.

The occupational health nurse or physician or the physiotherapist may advise you to consult your GP for discussion about further assessment if you are not responding to physiotherapy treatments.

Sometimes it would be helpful for occupational health or your physiotherapist to correspond with your GP or specialist but this would not be without your explicit consent.

What about my job?

Your occupational health advisor will offer guidance and advice to you and your employer about your fitness for work.

Occasionally it may be appropriate to recommend temporary restrictions from specific work tasks and activities until your symptoms and functioning improve.  Your employer may be able to accommodate this for an agreed period and you should discuss this with your manager.

If needed, you will have a review with occupational health after your physiotherapy treatments.

How can I help myself?

Unless otherwise advised, simple self-help strategies are recommended and often very beneficial.  These include over the counter pain control or anti-inflammatory medication; please discuss this with your GP or pharmacist if you have any concerns.  Try stretching exercise, start gently and frequently and increase as your symptoms settle; keep mobile, active and walk.  Avoid sitting or inactivity for prolonged periods.

Regular exercise is essential for recovery from acute or chronic muscle and joint problems in addition to reducing the risk of further injury or pain.

Yoga or Pilates are popular and can be very beneficial particularly for core strength stability, management of back pain and postural improvement.

A programme of regular exercises such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, gym or dance workout and group sports activities are all great for improving and maintaining physical fitness and result in a feeling of wellbeing.  Stretching before exercising reduces the risk of injury.

Your physiotherapist will be able to discuss your fitness regime with you