The Important Role of Physical Therapy in Orthopedic Care

Sep 25, 2021

Whether you have undergone orthopedic therapy or recently suffered an orthopedic injury, you likely know the recovery process can be long and difficult at times. Most of the problems addressed by orthopedic doctors are not healed overnight. To help with this process, you may have been referred for physical therapy. But how is that different, and why do you need to see two separate providers for the same condition? Read on to explore how physical therapy complements orthopedic care and why both are important to a full recovery.

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is a treatment designed for the recovery of the body through a series of movements, exercises, and lifestyle adjustments. While it can be applied to a wide range of injuries and conditions, the goals of physical therapy are consistent: reduce pain, improve function, improve range of motion, and regain or retain the ability to complete normal tasks.

Acute forms of physical therapy may focus primarily on regaining the ability to do an activity you could before treatment was necessary. However, you will usually leave physical therapy with skills that contribute to your overall health and strength. Often these benefits help you avoid future injury through education and proper alignment of the body.

Whatever your condition is, physical therapy is customized for each patient in order to achieve your goals while staying realistic about your prognosis. Some people will need physical therapy for life and will not reach the same level of activity they once had, but it can be helpful to maintain strength and function.

Conservative Treatment with Physical Therapy

The goal of most orthopedic treatments is to avoid surgery when possible. Minor injuries and chronic diseases alike will often be managed with non-invasive treatment until no other options are left. Like any form of medicine, prevention is always more effective in orthopedic care than trying to address a problem after the fact. Physical therapy is very commonly used as part of these conservative orthopedic treatment plans.

For example, a patient with arthritis may benefit from stretching and strengthening exercises, basic posture improvement, and body mechanics training. While these won’t reverse arthritis, they can keep the body healthy for longer and help a patient have less severe symptoms.

Overuse injuries are commonly treated by orthopedists in conjunction with physical therapy. In these cases, injuries can often be reversed, and techniques from physical therapy can be used to prevent injury in the future. In case you are wondering about the difference between physiotherapy vs. physical therapy we have guide to ease your life.

Surgical Treatment and Physical Therapy

Where surgical treatment is necessary, physical therapy can be used both before and after the procedure. Prior to surgery, it is important for a patient to be in good health as much as possible in order to ensure a good outcome and recovery. While preparing for surgery, things like flexibility and muscle strength can be addressed to help the body gear up.

Post-operative care heavily relies on physical therapy. Surgery often addresses traumatic injuries or degenerative diseases that impact the joint, muscle, and surrounding tissues. Once surgery has repaired the root issue, physical therapy is critical to help patients learn to use their bodies again. They may need to adjust to a new form of movement or make lifestyle changes. Physical therapy is designed to help ease into these changes without putting too much stress on the body.

Joint replacement is a common orthopedic intervention that relies on physical therapy to be successful. Patients will need to learn how to build strength and range of motion in the new joint, which is done through ongoing physical therapy.

Ensuring Recovery Through Comprehensive Care

In orthopedic procedures, there is often a responsibility on the patient to work towards their own recovery. Physical therapy helps, but often there are adjustments and exercises that need to take place at home, outside of the care of doctors and therapists. You should make sure to be involved in outlining your goals for physical therapy and checking in on them often to ensure progress is being made. It is also important to have orthopedic doctors and physical therapists who are in agreement about your treatment plan.

If you are interested in orthopedic care and physical therapy that is tightly integrated, AICA Lithia Springs is here to help. With a range of professionals on our team, we are able to provide comprehensive treatment that recognizes the role physical therapy plays in healing orthopedic conditions. Contact us today to schedule your first consultation and begin building out a care team that’s right for you.


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