When should you see a respiratory physiotherapist?


These days it’s not uncommon for doctors to refer patients experiencing chest pains to a qualified physiotherapist to get special treatment. 

So when is it a good time to see one and what symptoms should you be aware of when considering booking an appointment?

Here’s when you should see a chest physiotherapist and what to expect at your appointment. 

 Common symptoms associated with chest pain 

Chest pain can surface in a variety of ways. Depending on the cause, you may experience it differently. Chest pain can often be accompanied by:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing and wheezing 
  • Burning or tearing sensation 
  • Pressure and shortness of breath 
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • High heart rate

 Chest pains can be linked to multiple different conditions 

There are many respiratory health issues out there – many of which can develop into serious conditions if left untreated. Chest pains are often the result of underlying issues such as:


  • Muscle strain. One of the most common causes of chest pain is a strained chest muscle – this can happen when you overdo it on the bench press or stretch your muscles too far.
  • Asthma. As one of the most common breathing disorders, asthma can cause chest pain via inflammation in the airways. 
  • Fractured ribs. A fractured rib is never fun and can cause a great deal of chest pain – especially when you take deep breaths. Breaks and bruises are also common rib injuries that can result in chest pains. 
  • Tuberculosis. TB is when bacteria builds up in the lungs causing coughing, excess mucus, and wheezing. TB can also cause chest pain.
  • Hypertension. High blood pressure can cause blood flow through the arteries to be restricted – causing chest pains. 
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 When should you see a chest physio?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what constitutes a good reason to visit a physio – especially if your symptoms are new and you’re unsure how to proceed. To clear things up, here’s what you should look at to guide your decision:

 You should seek immediate emergency treatment if you experience:

  • Sudden, sharp chest pains 
  • Chest pain that starts in the chest and extends to your neck, back, and jaw. 
  • Confusion, dizziness, and high heart rate. 

Even moderate pain levels should be taken very seriously. Always make sure to get in touch with your medical professional for moderate to severe chest pains. 

 Book a chest physio appointment if you experience:

  • Chronic chest pains that affect your everyday life
  • Excess mucus as part of a lung infection 
  • Difficulty with mobility and pains when doing chest-related exercises 
  • Slight pains when breathing or when doing exercise 
  • Difficulty maintaining endurance 

 Aims of chest physiotherapy

Seeing a chest physiotherapist can be helpful for a number of reasons. Many people find that physiotherapy can help relieve chest pain and regain better function and mobility when exercising or carrying out daily activities like walking and lifting objects. Physiotherapists have a lot to offer when the issues affecting the chest and lung pain are due to musculoskeletal issues. 

A physio will be able to remedy these using a combination of manual and other techniques.

Here are some more specific aims of chest physiotherapy:

  • Reduce mucus in the chest 
  • Facilitate normal breathing 
  • Stop lungs from collapsing 
  • Reduce inflammation 
  • Assist in post-surgery recovery 

What to expect at your appointment?

If you’ve never been to a physio for chest pains before you might well be wondering what to expect. Initial consultations often involve an initial diagnosis where you will be asked questions about your specific issue as well as your general health and lifestyle more generally. 

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A chest physio will be able to draw up a plan to help you regain strength and endurance via exercise, stretching routines, and muscle taping. They could also perform chest mobilisation techniques to help loosen ribs and chest muscles. 

 What can a chest physio do to help?

You should walk away from your appointment with a clear plan of action to help reduce your symptoms and get your health back on track. A pulmonary physio should give you solid advice on how to reduce pain. And depending on your situation, they could perform manual manipulation techniques on your body to help mobilise your joints and reduce tension. 

Breathing techniques are often used to regain normal lung function and facilitate better ventilation. A chest physio can also give you advice on how to change habits that are negatively affecting your health; for example, working on posture, and technique. 

Book your chest physio appointment today 

Having trouble getting to the root of your chest pain? Sometimes it’s good to get a third opinion. Seeing a qualified chest physiotherapist can help with regaining normal lung function, reduce pain and inflammation, and regain proper ventilation. Whether you’re dealing with chronic or acute symptoms, book an appointment today and discover how physiotherapy can help your symptoms. 


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