What is Orthopaedic Physical Therapy and How Does it Work
If you experience just about any type of orthopaedic injury, there’s a good chance you’ll need physical therapy to regain strength, motion, and flexibility as you heal. When choosing who to work with, start by making sure you’re paired with an orthopaedic physical therapist. This person will play an important role in evaluating, treating, and managing your specific condition.
An orthopaedic physical therapist has had extra training and education in treating injuries of the musculoskeletal system: those that affect your muscles, ligaments, bones, nerves, or tendons. If an orthopaedic surgeon operates on your spine, hips, or shoulders, you will likely need post-operative orthopaedic physical therapy for a period of weeks or months to help you heal as much as possible.
Therapy does much more than strengthen weakened muscles. At a clinic specializing in orthopaedic injuries, you will also receive:
- Management of acute or chronic pain
- Design and implementation of home exercise
- Access to training equipment to help you perform daily life skills
- Conditioning before returning to work
- Restoration of function, mobility, and strength
What Is Orthopaedic Physical Therapy?
Therapy is an extremely important stage in the healing process of countless injuries and ailments from head to foot. The more specialized the therapist in your area of injury, the better your long-term results. What this means is that an orthopaedic physical therapist will know more about treatment related to injuries like the ones you’ve seen your favorite athletes suffer during televised games. However, the range of what they treat is extremely broad, from ongoing pain from twisting your ankle at home, to head injuries, to the many different chronic or repetitive injuries people sustain at work.
Why Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Matters
You might think once you’ve had your arthroscopic knee or shoulder surgery that the hard part is over. But getting the right therapist for your injury is just as important as finding the best surgeon for your procedure. At a specialty clinic like MidAmerica Orthopaedics, you’ll be able to see the same therapist for all your regular sessions. Common surgeries and procedures requiring orthopaedic physical therapy include:
- ACL reconstruction
- Meniscectomy and meniscus repair
- Rotator cuff repair
- Joint and hip replacements
How Physical Therapy Is Used to Treat Orthopaedic Disorders
Therapists start by consulting with patients to learn more about their particular condition and symptoms. You’ll discuss the goals your therapist has set for you, as well as your personal goals and what your treatment will consist of moving forward. Expect a combination of exercises and education about your condition, balance and flexibility work, and manual therapy techniques.
Your orthopaedic physical therapist will have specialized training, but your sessions will be a lot like PT you may have and in the past. Your initial consultation will set the stage for your treatment path in the coming weeks or months.
What Will Happen in Your Orthopaedic PT Sessions
Your therapist will outline the process for you, from your initial assessment to your first session and those that follow. Evaluations typically last an hour or longer, but sessions vary based on your specific needs. Through subsequent sessions, you will work together on improving your strength, range of motion, and overall functional mobility. During this time the therapist may:
- Diagnose your disorder and create a treatment plan
- Teach you therapeutic exercise techniques related to your condition
- Massage the affected area to promote healing
- Adjust procedures and recommendations as you heal
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your sessions will entail and how the treatment will progress through those sessions. As you heal, your therapist should clarify what treatment is still needed going forward and which home exercises can help ensure that your needs are met.
Finding an Orthopaedic Physical Therapist with the Right Expertise
Finding someone who specializes in the treatment of your condition can make the difference between a quick and easy recovery and an unsatisfactory outcome. While non-specialized physical therapists can offer excellent care, for certain conditions or professional athletes, finding a specialized physical therapist can make all the difference. When searching for the right therapist to work with, find out whether you can meet with someone with extensive experience helping other patients like you.
You may heal faster by building a stable relationship with one or two therapists while you recover. As with a new physician, ask about what you can expect from your treatment so you kick off your sessions as prepared and informed as possible. To work with a best-in-class orthopaedic physical therapist, contact MidAmerica Orthopaedics online, or call 708-237-7200 any time to set up an appointment.