Orthopedic physical therapy can change lives. A skilled physical therapist (PT) can get you back on track with your daily activities after surgery, injury, accident or illness.
This is because an orthopedist specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect any part of the musculoskeletal system.
An orthopedic PT integrates all of your other body systems—particularly the nervous and cardiovascular systems—with the musculoskeletal system to appropriately treat your injury or condition.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what orthotic physical therapy is, when you might need it, and the types of treatments it includes.
What is orthopedic physical therapy?
Orthopedic physiotherapy involves the care of the entire musculoskeletal system, which includes:
- Ligaments and tendons
- Connective tissue
A professional orthopedic doctor can evaluate your condition and diagnose your problem or condition. This will include:
- Determine the appropriate diagnosis of movement
- Develop a treatment plan
- curative care management
- Educate you on how to manage your current injury or condition to prevent further injury
- Orthopedic physiotherapy is provided in outpatient clinics, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, sports facilities and even in your own home.
The entry degree in PT these days is a clinical doctorate. So when you go to work with a PT, you work with a physical therapist, which has completed three years of graduate school.
What conditions does Physiotherapist treat?
Let’s look at some of the most common conditions and problems that physical therapists treat.
Conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system
Orthopedic physical therapy can be a primary or complementary treatment option for the following types of musculoskeletal diseases:
- frozen shoulder
- knee instability
- Joint pain
- Limited range of motion
- lower back pain
- Lyme disease
- muscle atrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- plantar fasciitis
- spinal stenosis
- brain attack
Some physical therapists specialize in treating specific groups of patients.
For example, an athlete’s PT can help athletes move around safely in an effort to prevent injuries. They can also help athletes recover from sports injuries.
A physical therapist who works primarily with older adults can help their patients improve their balance to prevent falls. They can also help older adults recover from the knee or hip replacement surgery, or maintain their strength and mobility as they age.
Other physical therapists specialize in helping people recover from conditions such as cancer, lower back pain or the effects of pregnancy and childbirth.
Rehabilitation after surgery
After surgery, orthopedic physical therapy may help reduce pain, restore normal walking, improve your range of motion, and prevent excessive buildup of scar tissue.
In addition, it may also help you regain your balance, strength, and mobility.
Patients often work with orthopedists after surgeries such as:
- Hip Replacement
- knee replacement
- knee arthroscopy
- rotator cuff repair
- heart operation
- cancer surgery
Rehabilitation after acute injury
An acute injury is one that occurs as a result of a single trauma to body. If you sprained your ankle, ruptured a meniscus, or herniated a disc in your back, a PT orthotic can help:
- Pain and swelling management
- Works with your doctor’s recommended weight bearing restrictions
- Regain as much of your range of the motion as possible
- Rebuild Your Strength
- Learn how to move in ways that won’t make your condition flare up again
Rehabilitation after chronic injury
Chronic injury is damage to your body that occurs over time, usually because your movement patterns have caused small, repetitive injuries to tendons, bones, or joints. Examples of chronic injuries include:
- shin splints
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- tennis elbow
An orthopedist can analyze your movement patterns to isolate the source of the injury. They can also help you manage symptoms such as pain and swelling, and they can educate you on how to move safely to avoid future injuries.
What types of treatments are used?
Orthopedists use a wide range of therapeutic techniques, exercises, assistive devices, and patient education methods to help you.
Depends on how therapist uses these treatments:
- Negative modalities (the therapist gives you the cure), or
- Active modalities (you perform or participate in the movement)
- Here are some examples of treatments that can be used in conjunction with orthopedic physical therapy.
Osteopathic physiotherapists use cryotherapy (cold therapy) and thermotherapy (heat therapy) to treat musculoskeletal pain and swelling.