Musculoskeletal disorders are increasing; they require vast resources and are controversial. How are patients suffering from such disorders received, examined and understood? This article is based on a research project of first-time consultations in a physiotherapy practice, using video recordings and direct observations, supplemented by interviews. One particular encounter is described and analysed in detail. The analysis shows that most of the consultation was devoted to verbal communication and that the information obtained by verbal exchange and physical examination overlapped. The therapist stressed the relationship between the general state of the body and local conditions and regarded the body as a field of expression. Since the patient is affirmed as an experiencing body subject entitled to opinions, her participation is encouraged. A common ground for future co-operation is established. The findings emphasize the need for further analysis of actual practice and ist underlying assumptions. Microstudies of clinical consultations can teach us more about the relationship between diagnostics and the prerequisites for ensuring patients' participation.