Skip to content
Home > Services A to Z > MSK Physio

MSK Physio

There are several ways you can access our service:

  • GP:  You can ask your GP/Doctor to refer you if you and your GP are within Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.
  • Hospital doctor/clinic:  You may be referred to us through another NHS service e.g. orthopaedics. 
  • Yourself:  You can refer yourself directly by filling in our Self Referral Form if you live within Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 

Please deliver or post your completed form to your  Local Physiotherapy Department.  

Paper copies are also available from your local physiotherapy department or GP surgery. 

In the near future, we plan to make this self referral process available electronically on this site.

This  What Happens Next  leaflet explains what will happen once we receive your referral. 

Important Facts About Your Upper Back 

Please read the following information and then use the links at the bottom of the page if you are looking for further information or exercise.

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self- management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If your injury is caused by a recent significant traumatic incident to your head, neck or body (e.g. a fall from a height, significant car accident) please have this checked out by a health professional before commencing with an exercise program.

NOTE: if you have a known diagnosis of osteoporosis (low bone density) a small amount of force (e.g. strenuous lifting) may cause problems that require medical assessment.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

If you feel any of these signs appear rapidly or over a longer period of time please have these checked out by a health professional.

  • Severe restriction in the movement of your neck/ trunk or arm
  • Changes in your balance and the way you are walking e.g. tripping, falling
  • Weakness and/ or altered sensation into both arms and/ or legs at the same time
  • Electric shock sensations into both arms and legs on forward bending of your head or looking down
  • Problems with coordination of upper and/ or lower limbs e.g. writing, standing and walking
  • Pain or altered sensation around your trunk e.g. can be described as a band of pain/ numbness around the chest
  • Chest pain, excessive yawning and/or altered/ difficulty breathing
  • Fever or generally feeling unwell at same time as mid back symptoms developed
  • Constant severe pain which does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant pain and/or night sweats
  • A previous history of cancer/ unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained lumps or bumps that are changing/ growing
  • Increasing number of joints that are painful and/ or stiff
  • Sudden change in height and/or curvature of your spine, inability to be upright
  • Significant changes to bowel, bladder habits and/or sexual function required IMMMEDIATE MEDICAL ASSESSMENT. WARNING: Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) This a rare but extremely serious spinal condition that requires immediate assessment. 

For further information on CES: 

NOTE: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid/ immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, dental surgery or steroid injection. Previous spinal surgery. Rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease, recent infection, previous history of tuberculosis, intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse

Upper Back Exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about upper back pain before proceeding.

Here are some exercises to help you get your upper back moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.

Exercise videos

Beginner exercise
Progressive upper back exercises

Important Facts About Your Back Pain

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES)

Warning: CES is a rare but extremely serious spinal condition that requires immediate assessment. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms described in (1) or (2) below, then please have these checked out urgently – usually your GP if within normal hours (8:30-6pm) or call NHS 24 on 111 at other times.

  1. Significant changes in your bowel or bladder habits and/or sexual function. This includes difficulty passing or controlling your urine flow/ signs of recent bowel incontinence
  2. Changes to sensation in between your legs e.g. difficulty feeling the toilet paper when you are wiping your bottom.

Further information on CES

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If symptoms are caused by a traumatic incident to your back (e.g. a fall, car accident), please have this checked out by a health professional before commencing with an exercise program.

NOTE: If you have underlying low bone density (e.g. osteoporosis) or long-term steroid use then smaller amounts of force may cause problems that require medical assessment.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

If you feel any of the following signs develop rapidly or over a longer period of time please have these checked out by a health professional.

  • Severe restriction in the movement of your lower back and legs.
  • Sudden or newly worsening leg pain which extends below the knee
  • Changes in your balance and the way you are walking e.g. tripping, falling
  • Weakness and/ or altered sensation into both arms and/ or legs at the same time
  • If one or both feet are feeling very floppy or feel very weak on walking
  • Problems with coordination of upper and/or lower limbs e.g. writing, getting dressed, walking.
  • Pain or altered sensation around your trunk e.g. can be described as a band of pain/ numbness around the chest
  • Pain and/or stiffness in other joints at same time as low back pain developed
  • Fever and generally feeling unwell at same time as low back pain developed
  • Unexplained lumps and bumps that appear or are changing/ growing
  • Constant pain that does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant worsening night pain, unable to lie flat
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or previous history of cancer
  • Increasing number of joints that are painful and/or stiff.

NOTE: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid/ immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, dental surgery or steroid injection. Rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease, recent infection, previous history of tuberculosis, intravenous drug use or alcoholism.

Resources

Information leaflets/links

Lower back exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about lower back pain before proceeding.

Here are some exercises to help you get your lower back moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe.
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try.
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.

Exercise videos

Introduction
Beginner lower back exercises
Progressive lower back exercises
General lower back exercises

Important Facts About Your Hip

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercise. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If your symptoms are caused by a recent traumatic incident (e.g. a fall, football tackle) and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Extensive bruising and/ or swelling around your hip and thigh
  • Severe pain and very limited movement of your hip/ Leg
  • Leg deformity e.g. foot not sitting in normal position
  • Difficulty putting weight through the injured leg.

NOTE: If you have underlying low bone density (e.g. osteoporosis) smaller amounts of force can cause the problems listed above.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

  • Severe pain and/or inability to stand on one leg
  • Significant loss of hip movement
  • Heat, redness and swelling around your hip
  • Fever or generally feeling unwell at same time as hip pain developed
  • Pain and/ or stiffness in other joints at the same time as hip pain developed
  • Constant pain which does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant pain at night with or without night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss and/ or a previous history of cancer
  • Unexplained lumps and bumps that appear or are changing/growing.

NOTE: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid use/ immunosuppressive drugs, recent joint replacement, surgery or steroid injection. Rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease. Recent infection, Intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.

Resources

What is Osteoarthritis video (video 3 min watch)

Hip Exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about hip pain before proceeding.

Here are some beginner-to-progressive exercises to help you get your hip moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe.
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try.
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.

Exercise videos

Hip exercise introduction – please watch
Hip mobility and stretches
Hip activation and strengthening
Lateral hip pain/outer hip pain exercises

Please read the following information and then use the links at the bottom of the page if you are looking for further information or exercise.

Important Knee Facts – Please Read

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns that we recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If your symptoms are caused by a recent traumatic incident (e.g. a fall, football tackle) and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Extensive swelling and bruising around your knee/ lower leg
  • Severe pain and very limited movement
  • Great difficulty in putting weight through your leg
  • Not able to straighten knee out
  • Joint deformity e.g. kneecap appears in the wrong place

NOTE: If you have an underlying poor bone density (e.g. osteoporosis) smaller amounts of force can cause the problems listed above.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

  • Significant loss of movement with or without pain
  • Redness, heat and swelling of the joint or surrounding area.
  • Increasing number of joints that are painful and/or stiff
  • Fever and general feeling unwell at same time as knee pain developed.
  • Constant pain that does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant worsening pain at night with or without night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss and/ or previous history of cancer
  • Unexplained lumps and bumps that appear or are changing/ growing

Note: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid/ immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, surgery or steroid injection. Rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease. Recent infection, Intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.

Exercises and advice

Information leaflets/Useful links

Exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about knee pain before proceeding.

Here are some beginner exercises to help you get your knee moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe.
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try.
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.
Knee exercise introduction – please watch
Knee mobility and stretching videos
Knee activation and strengthening videos
Knee exercise workouts videos (parts 1-3), designed to follow along with
Leaflets with exercises

Important Facts About Your Ankle

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before starting self-management exercises. These are called ‘Red Flags’ and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms that are present After Trauma

If your symptoms are caused by a recent traumatic incident (e.g. a fall, football tackle) and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Extensive bruising and/ or swelling
  • Discolouration e.g. your foot looks pale, blue or red
  • Severe pain and very limited movement
  • Joint deformity eg foot looks like it is in the wrong place
  • New lumps and bumps that appear after the trauma
  • Great difficulty putting weight through your leg
  • Numbness/ tingling into your foot after trauma
  • Feeling of instability

Please Note: If you have a known diagnosis of osteoporosis (low bone density) a small amount of force may cause problems that require medical assessment.

Symptoms where No Trauma was Involved

  • Sudden loss of active movement with or without pain
  • Redness, heat and swelling of the joint/ surrounding area
  • Increasing numbers of joints that are painful and/or stiff
  • Fever or generally feeling unwell at same time as your foot pain developed
  • Unexplained numbness/ tingling into your foot
  • Constant pain which does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant worsening pain at night
  • Unexplained weight loss and/ or a previous history of cancer
  • Unexplained lumps and bumps that appear or are changing/ growing
  • Difficulty lifting the front part of your foot/ catching or dragging your foot when walking

Please Note: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid or immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, recent steroid injection, rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease, recent infection, Intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.

Our colleagues in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Podiatry team have developed a range of information resources for specific foot conditions – please click here to see what resources are available.

Exercises and advice

Foot and ankle exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about foot pain before proceeding.

Here are some beginner-to-progressive exercises to help you get your foot/ankle moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

Self help exercises

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe.
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try.
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.
Exercises for ankle sprain
General foot exercises – videos

Warm up

Calf stretches

Calf strengthening

Foot strengthening

Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis – videos

Introduction

Heel raises for foot pain

Foot strengthening

Toe walking

Resources you may find useful

What is Persistent/Chronic Pain

Websites that cover all aspects of persistent pain

  • British resource including podcasts, videos and workshops: The Pain Toolkit
  • Great small visual presentations (1 min each) on topics such as emotions, medication and sleep: Retrain Pain

Leaflets regarding self management 

10 things you should know about your back pain

Being active is really good for all of us but you may not be sure of how much to do to get a real benefit.  The UK Chief Medical Officers report (2019) outlined recommendations for the amount and type of activity that adults and older adults should participate in to really get some benefit (Guidelines Infographic). 

There is also good evidence that being physically active helps boost immunity and can protect against serious illness from covid19 as the following video outlines (video less than 2 min watch):

If you are looking for specific advice about exercising after a COVID-19 infection please have a look at these evidence based resources compiled by our physiotherapy colleagues.

If you have any queries about your medical suitability for exercising please discuss this with a healthcare professional.  

The good news is that within Greater Glasgow and Clyde we have a range of physical activity opportunities and activities for participants so there is something for everyone. In addition we have services that offer more support in helping you become more active.

All you need to do is email the following details to LiveActive@ggc.scot.nhs.uk:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Address and postcode.
The benefits of exercises (video 5 mins watch)

Information about keeping active, things to consider and about specific activities

Exercising with pain (video less than 2 min watch)
Self-help Management and Helpline from Versus Arthritis
For information regarding access to Glasgow Club sports facilities
Advice and tips to prevention falls (10 min read)

Please read the following information and then use the links at the bottom of the page if you are looking for further information or exercise.

Important Facts About Your Shoulder – Please Read

Here is a list of the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If your symptoms are caused by a recent traumatic incident (e.g. a fall, football tackle) and you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain and weakness at time of injury or shortly afterwards leading to a sudden loss of shoulder movement/ arm function
  • Shoulder is significantly bruised and/ or swollen
  • Shoulder and/ or surrounding soft tissue looks abnormal/deformed
  • New lumps and bumps that appear after the trauma.

NOTE: If you have an underlying poor bone density (e.g. osteoporosis) smaller amounts of force can cause the problems listed above.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

  • Sudden loss of active movement with or without pain
  • Pain and/ or stiffness in other joints at the same time as shoulder pain developed
  • Heat, redness and/ or swelling of joint
  • Fever and general feeling unwell at same time as shoulder pain developed
  • Experiencing chest pain and / or difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained lumps and bumps that appear or are changing/ growing
  • Constant pain which does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant worsening night pain with or without night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or previous history cancer
  • Increasing numbers of joints that are painful and/or stiff
  • Any unexplained tingling, numbness and pins and needles into shoulder and/or arm

Note: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid/ immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, recent steroid injection, rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease including recent infection, Intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.

Beginner-to-Progressive Shoulder Exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information about shoulder pain before proceeding.

Here are some exercises to help you get your shoulder moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.

Resources

Shoulder Information Leaflets

Beginner-to-progressive shoulder exercise videos

Rotator cuff (shoulder muscle group) exercise options
Tips to manage a painful shoulder

Important Facts About Your Neck Pain

Please read the following information and then use the links at the bottom of the page if you are looking for further information or exercise.

Here are the main problems and concerns we would recommend you get checked out by a health professional before commencing self-management exercises. These are called Red Flags and may indicate a more serious problem that requires medical assessment.

Symptoms That Are Present After Trauma

If symptoms are caused by a traumatic incident to your head and/ or neck (e.g. a fall or severe whiplash) please have this checked out by a health professional before commencing with an exercise program.

Note: If you have a known diagnosis of osteoporosis (low bone density) a small amount of force may cause problems that require medical assessment.

Symptoms Where No Trauma Was Involved

If you feel any of these signs appear rapidly or over a longer period of time please have these checked out by a health professional. 

  • Severe restriction in the movement of your neck and/ or head
  • Changes in your balance and the way you are walking e.g. tripping, falling
  • Weakness and/ or altered sensation into both arms and/ or legs at the same time
  • Problems with coordination of upper and/ or lower limbs e.g. writing, getting dressed, walking
  • Electric shocks sensations into both arms and legs on forward bending of your head or looking down
  • Significant changes to bowel, bladder habits and/or sexual function required immediate medical assessment. Warning: Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES): This a rare but extremely serious spinal condition that requires immediate assessment. For further information on CES:
  • New problems with talking, dizziness, swallowing or eyesight
  • Fever or generally feeling unwell at same time as neck symptoms developed
  • Constant pain which does not change with rest or activity
  • Significant pain and/ or sweats at night
  • A previous history of cancer and/ or unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained lumps or bumps that are changing/growing
  • Increasing number of joints that are painful and/or stiff
  • Severe headaches and/ or jaw pain.

Note: Special attention should be taken if you have a history of long-term steroid/ immunosuppressive drug use, recent joint replacement, dental surgery or steroid injection. Previous spinal surgery. Rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease, recent infection, previous history of tuberculosis, intravenous drug use or alcohol misuse.

Resources

Neck information leaflets
Neck exercises

Please make sure you have read through the important information above about neck pain before proceeding.

Here are some specific exercises to help you get your neck moving better. You may need to build these exercises up gradually.

You may be uncomfortable when you start doing these exercises – make sure the level of discomfort feels acceptable to you and that it doesn’t take too long to settle once you are finished.

The exercises should get easier the more consistently you manage to practice them and this may allow you to progress to more difficult exercises.

These are self help exercises:

  • Try to enjoy the exercises and work at a pace and level that feels safe.
  • Please use a common sense approach when deciding which ones to try.
  • The exercises listed are not designed as an alternative to professional advice.

Information about how to select the level at which to exercise.

Watch the short video (under 2 minutes) about exercising with pain.

Neck exercise videos

Chin retractions

Anterior neck stretch

Posterior neck stretch

Neck strengthening

Neck exercise class videos (1-3 parts) designed to follow along with

Neck exercise introduction (must watch before commencing exercises)

Neck exercises – part 1

Neck exercises – part 2

Neck exercises – part 3