Research by the Royal Society for Physiotherapists has shown that 56% of Dutch people continue with (pain) complaints for at least a few weeks. The majority of people hope that the complaints will pass automatically. Furthermore, a large part of the people thinks that you need a referral from the GP to go to the physiotherapist. What is an explainable pain? What can you do to get rid of your complaints? When is it time to go to a physiotherapist or doctor? I’m going to tell you. 

Explainable pain

Pain does not necessarily mean that something is broken in your body, but it is never used to train through the pain. Maybe a voice says in your head: “Well, it will be easy and will pass over again.” In most cases, this is also the case if you handle your body wisely and only start exercising again when the pain is over.

For example, if you step on a pushpin with your bare foot, it makes perfect sense that you are limping for a few days to relieve your foot. After that, your foot will recover and you can start walking normally again. With many sports injuries, it actually works the same. It is important to give your body the chance to recover instead of walking on that painful foot.

If you can explain your pain, this is usually a good sign. It is very logical that after a heavy workout you have some pain in your back. This could be muscle pain and will in most cases automatically disappear within a few days to a week. The same applies, of course, to complaints in your knee, shoulder, ankle, big toe, and so on.

Adjust tax and search for alternatives

You have developed a poke somewhere. See if you can adjust the load so that you can execute the exercise without pain. The load can be adjusted by performing your exercise with less weight, fewer repetitions or, for example, less explosive.

Nobody gets better from doing nothing at all. Take a look at the exercises that you can do. For example, your knee hurts when making a lunge. Then check if a squat is pain-free. Does not one of the exercises go without pain? See if you can pay more attention to other parts of your body.

Time for action?

  • You have been walking around for more than six weeks with pain that you can not explain.
  • You have adjusted your load but the pain does not decrease (or even increases). Then it can be of added value to go to the physiotherapist and look with him/her at the cause of your complaints.
  • You have been walking around for a long time, but do not want to go to the physiotherapist because you are afraid it is not bad enough. Do not worry, any complaint that you feel limited by (how clumsy it might feel for you) is serious. You do not have to be afraid that you are acting, a good physiotherapist will take you seriously and give you advice with which you can go further.
  • You are afraid of a long-term/expensive course with the physiotherapist. Please indicate in advance what you will come up with. If you have a clear question and want information about a subject, the physio will be able to help you. Most physiotherapists will provide you with information so that you know what is going on and how you can get started with it yourself. The more you do yourself, the fewer treatments you need.
  • When in doubt: always go. Find a good (sports) physiotherapist in your area and visit us for a check.


In the Netherlands, there is ‘Direct Access Physiotherapy’. You can, therefore, make an appointment yourself and a referral is therefore not necessary. If you are additionally insured, the insurance will pay a number (depending on your package) of your treatments. The physiotherapy treatments come from your supplementary package and therefore do NOT depend on your own risk.

Not insured: No problem, you can often pay per treatment. A treatment or examination usually costs 30-50 euros and can prevent a lot of (long-term) misery.

So make sure that you are not limited by your pain. What can you do yourself? And what can the physiotherapist do for you?

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