Physical therapy and orthopedics often includes exercises to help improve strength, mobility and overall body control. These exercises intend to increase range of motion, improve function and decrease pain. Whether you suffered a sports injury, joint pain, or post-surgical recovery, the journey to restoring mobility and function often involves a crucial component – physical therapy. 

Physical therapy overall works to help those who are dealing with an injury or illness improve and develop their mobility and manage pain. Orthopedic physical therapy has the same goals but focuses on issues involving the musculoskeletal system (joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue). 

At Ventura Orthopedic, we recognize the significant role that physical therapy plays in the orthopedic recovery process. Below, our team of experts focuses on the importance of physical therapy and how it contributes to the overall well-being of patients facing orthopedic challenges.

Common Causes of Orthopedic Injuries

Orthopedic injuries affect the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other supporting structures of the body. These injuries may range from minor sprains and strains to more serious fractures and dislocations. 

There are many causes of orthopedic injuries, including:

  • Trauma
  • Overuse
  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Genetics

What is Orthopedic Physical Therapy?

Orthopedics is a branch of medicine that studies and focuses on the musculoskeletal [MSK] system. Orthopedic physical therapy is an extended branch of this type of medical practice. A physical therapist [PT] receives more education and training in the management of MSK injuries than most other medical providers.

The MSK system is made up of:

  • Bones
  • Muscles and tendons
  • Ligaments 
  • Joints

Physical Therapy & Orthopedic Recovery

Your physical therapist will begin by reviewing your medical history and performing a physical evaluation to get a good idea on how you and your body works. This initial assessment will help your therapist tailor a therapy plan that better works for you.

Your therapist will evaluate your posture, balance, coordination, strength and flexibility. After assessing your needs, your physical therapist will begin your treatment plan. Physical Therapy varies for every patient but will likely begin with very simple exercises. At times these exercises are so simple that you might begin to question whether or not they are necessary. Keep in mind that even the smallest movements are crucial to increase the range of motion, mobility, endurance and strength. It very is important that you trust your therapist. 

Physical Therapy, depending on your injury or medical condition, can include exercises that improve function and reduce pain. While pain varies with each patient and with each ailment, there is a chance you will experience slight pain during treatment. Your therapist will repeatedly ask your pain level while they evaluate you and during exercises as they strive to make recovery as painless as possible. It is important to maintain open communication with your therapist. 

Your physician may order PT for the following reasons:

  • Post-Surgical Rehabilitation

Physical therapy helps reduce surgical complications, minimize scar tissue and optimize the surgical outcome. Therapists often provide emotional support and help patients maintain a positive attitude during the healing process when daily tasks may take longer to complete. Active rehabilitation has been shown in many studies to enhance outcomes and to ensure the reliability of the surgery. 

  • Pain Management

Pain can originate from various sources, including musculoskeletal injuries, neurological conditions, or chronic conditions like arthritis. Physical therapy is a non-invasive and holistic approach that focuses on addressing the root causes of pain rather than solely relying on pain medication. By employing specialized exercises, manual therapy, and other techniques, physical therapists aim to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility, leading to enhanced pain management.

Therapy is a critical tool in alleviating pain during the recovery process. Pain can be a significant barrier to performing daily activities and can limit a person’s ability to function normally. Physical therapy treatment involves various exercises and techniques that can help patients manage their pain levels, reducing discomfort and improving overall quality of life. 

Physical therapists are experts not only in treating pain, but also its source. Yours will look for areas of weakness or stiffness that may be adding stress to the places that hurt. And they will treat those areas with certain exercises to ease pain and help you move better.

  • Reduces Inflammation 

Physical therapy can also help reduce inflammation and pain in your affected area. Inflammation is a normal part of the healing process, but it can cause discomfort and pain, making it difficult to move and perform the tasks you need to in order to exercise. By using techniques like heat and cold therapy, electrical stimulation, and massage, your therapist can help you find relief from your symptoms. These techniques can help to reduce swelling, improve blood flow and relieve pain so that you can focus on your recovery.

  • Improves Strength and Mobility

Therapeutic exercises designed by physical therapists help restore mobility and strength. They tailor each program to the patient’s needs, ensuring safe, gradual progress. Through these targeted exercises, physical therapists aim to restore a normal range of motion, muscle strength, and joint stability necessary to perform activities of daily living with greater ease. 

Physical therapy exercises target the muscles and soft tissues that may have weakened after surgery. Your muscles may even become stronger than before surgery, helping you prevent new orthopedic injuries. Until your body heals, you may not have full function or range of motion at the surgery site.

  • Regain Balance and Control           

For some, regaining the ability to balance freely after an intensive operation, especially one on the hip or leg, can prove challenging. And the risks of moving around without the assistance of therapists can leave you stationary or risking re-injury through a fall. Luckily, physical therapy can provide a safe and gradual plan to get you confidently back on your feet. If the surgery took place in the arm, wrist, or hand, physical therapists could help you sharpen your fine motor skills again. Overall, orthopedic physical therapy will give you all the tools you need to regain your balance and control and to get back to your normal routine.

  • Enhances Blood Circulation

Your body needs proper blood circulation to heal the injuries and get your body back to normal. Unfortunately, without therapy, you may restrict good blood flow by remaining stagnant, sitting or lying down for large parts of the day. This can inhibit healing at the surgery’s site and lead to more pain, infection and lack of mobility that can cause complications for many years to come. Yet, with orthopedic physical therapy, blood flow is maximized and the recovering parts of the body begin to receive the nutrients they need to recover and improve. This is accomplished through strategic positioning of the body, as well as through exercises that get your blood flowing in a controlled and manageable way.

  • Preventing Further Injuries

Physical therapists can also teach patients proper techniques for lifting, carrying, and performing other activities to minimize strain on the body and prevent further injury. By identifying areas of weakness or imbalance and developing strategies to address them, physical therapists can help patients avoid common injuries like sprains, strains and tendinitis. Additionally, physical therapy can be used to assess and correct faulty movement patterns that can contribute to chronic pain or injury over time.

By teaching patients how to move more efficiently and effectively, physical therapists can reduce the risk of future injury and improve overall performance. Physical therapy can play a crucial role in injury prevention, helping patients maintain optimal function, reduce pain and discomfort, and achieve their health and wellness goals.

  • Preparing You for a Successful Return to Normal Activity

Most importantly, physical therapy prepares you for a successful return to activity, including daily tasks, work, and the hobbies or sports you enjoy. Depending on several factors (including the severity of your injury, the nature of your injury, and your unique recovery goals), your plan may include a gradual return to your everyday activities, or it may involve a specific rehab program tailored to your needs. Physical therapy near you can help ensure that you are physically and emotionally ready to resume your normal routine.

Make the Most of Your Physical Therapy Sessions

There are countless reasons for visiting a physical therapist, but the universal goal is to improve mobility and decrease pain. By deciding to see a physical therapist, you have already made an important step toward this goal. Your physical therapist’s responsibility is to offer expert guidance, strategies and techniques to help you achieve your goals but it is up to you to put in the work. 

Given the time and effort that goes into physical therapy, it is crucial that you get the most out of every session. The following tips will help you do this.

  • Arrive Early 

Try to get to your appointments a few minutes early so you have a chance to relax after your drive and get yourself into the right mindset for the session. Starting out feeling rushed will have an effect on the entire session.

  • Commit to Your Appointments 

The number of appointments you need will vary depending on the complexity and severity of the injuries or surgeries. Whether you are recommended 2 visits or 20, the speed at which you will progress depends upon whether you are attending all your appointments and doing all your recommended exercises.

  • Do the Homework 

When you undergo physical therapy, you will have to do some work outside of the visit. The exercises the Physical Therapist recommends to improve muscle strength and joint mobility often require repetition and consistency over time to see maximum results. If you do not follow the instructions, your PT will have a difficult time assessing why your condition is not improving and how to adjust the treatment plan.

  • Wear Something Comfortable 

Physical therapy usually requires movements that are designed to enhance and extend your range of motion. As such, you will want to wear something comfortable that allows for the required stretching and exercising. Also be sure to wear athletic shoes for your own safety.

  • Ask Questions 

Be sure to point out any aches or pains to your therapist. Do not assume that these are normal. Sometimes even the smallest details can help solve the largest problem. Your therapist wants to address your concerns, but they can only do so if you ask questions. This is not the time to be shy or worry about looking silly. There are no stupid questions in physical therapy.

  • Come Prepared 

Gather all documents and other helpful information, and bring them with you to your first appointment

  • Stay Hydrated 

It is important to eat properly and keep yourself hydrated. Make sure you bring a water bottle along with you to the sessions.

  • Keep Your Mind on the Therapy 

You need to keep your mind focused on the therapy session, so leave the cell phone at home or turn it off when you are with your therapist.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help Before & After Surgery?

Your physical therapist, in consultation with your surgeon, will be able to tell you how much activity you can do depending on the type of knee surgery (such as total knee replacement) you undergo. Your therapist and surgeon also might have you participate in physical therapy prior to surgery to increase your strength and motion. This can sometimes help with recovery after surgery.

Following surgery, your physical therapist will design a personalized rehabilitation program for you and help you gain the strength, movement, and endurance you need to return to performing the daily activities you did before.

To learn more about physical therapy at Ventura Orthopedics or to schedule an appointment with one of our hip replacement specialists, call us at 800-698-1280.

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