Physiotherapists choose treatments wisely

16 March 2016


In an allied health first, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has released six recommendations – as part of the evidence-based healthcare campaign Choosing Wisely - to help improve Australian’s healthcare outcomes.

Vice President, Phil Calvert, said the APA’s evidence-based recommendations puts physiotherapy at the forefront of quality healthcare delivery.

“As a highly respected healthcare profession, physiotherapists and the APA are committed to ensuring that physiotherapy practice remains highly relevant, is supported by high quality research and is responsive to our patients’ requirements,” Mr Calvert.

“As leaders in health care delivery, we openly review our approaches to treatment to provide consumers with a list of the tests, treatments, and procedures that should be discussed with their physiotherapist.”

To inform the six recommendations, the APA received nearly 2800 responses to its Choosing Wisely survey - which were then put to its panel of experts to inform the recommendations, he said.

“Importantly, the recommendations are not prescriptive - instead, they should help to start a conversation about what is appropriate and necessary in individual patient consultations,” Mr Calvert said.

“Each patient’s situation is unique, so we encourage physiotherapists and their patients to use the recommendations in their conversations to decide on the best treatment approach together.”

The APA list of recommendations is:

  1. Don’t request imaging for patients with non-specific low back pain and no indicators of a serious cause for low back pain
  2. Don’t request imaging of the cervical spine in trauma patients, unless indicated by a validated decision rule
  3. Don’t request imaging for acute ankle trauma unless indicated by the Ottawa Ankle Rules (localised bone tenderness or inability to weight-bear as defined in the Rules)
  4. Don't routinely use incentive spirometry after upper abdominal and cardiac surgery
  5. Avoid using electrotherapy modalities in the management of patients with low back pain
  6. Don’t provide ongoing manual therapy for patients with adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder


About Choosing Wisely

The Choosing Wisely campaign is led by Australia’s medical colleges and professional societies, and facilitated by NPS MedicineWise. The APA joined Choosing Wisely Australia in mid-2015 and is the only allied health profession among 12 participating medical colleges and societies.

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact

Odette Barry, Australian Physiotherapy Association
T 03 9092 0883, 0415 852 484 E or

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 19,500 members who conduct more than 23 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit