One of the most misunderstood aspects of orthopedic treatment is physical therapy.
Why do so many patients dislike PT? Well, they may not like the idea of having to force an injured body through exercises that may be uncomfortable. Also, it can be inconvenient to make time in your life for regular physical therapy sessions at a therapy center. And, perhaps most erroneously, patients may believe that physical therapy is unnecessary after their initial treatment is completed.
Yet, the importance of physical therapy is well-documented. It can help in many different situations such as:
- Rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery
- Before surgery to improve surgical success and recovery
- As a first line of treatment for mild or moderate classes of injuries in order to avoid surgery
Benefits of Physical Therapy
For milder injuries, physical therapy may be prescribed as a way to avoid the need for surgery. Physical therapists are trained in specialized exercises and manual therapy techniques like joint or soft tissue manipulation. Various interventions like electrical muscle stimulation or therapeutic ultrasound can help breakdown scar tissue, relieve pain, and restore mobility. Stretching and strengthening exercises also help restore the body’s ability to move properly following an injury – and help prevent further injury. The goals of post-injury physical therapy are to decrease the body’s natural inflammatory response, restore strength to weakened muscles, and increase range of motion.
If surgery is required, you should bank on needing physical therapy afterward. PT is the best way to regain mobility, strength, and range of motion post-op. By following all of your physical therapist’s recommendations, you ensure the best possible result following orthopedic surgery. Depending on a patient’s overall health, PT may be recommended prior to surgery to ready the body for the trauma of surgery, and to improve the likelihood of an easy recovery.
If you suffer from chronic pain, and the underlying cause of that pain remains unknown, physical therapy may be able to help. PT in these cases usually involves strengthening surrounding muscles to better manage a patient’s pain.
Conditions Treated With Physical Therapy
Aside from healing after an injury, physical therapy can be used to treat a number of medical conditions and side effects or complications from those issues.
For example, poor circulation is a particularly damaging result of uncontrolled diabetes, which can lead to infection, tissue death, and limb loss. PT can help increase circulation in a patient‘s legs and feet, helping to prevent some of the more severe complications of that particularly nasty and all-too-common disease.
PT is also used to manage many wear-and-tear conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, most often by helping to restore pain-free movement of arthritic joints.
Physical therapy is often recommended for patients who suffered a heart attack or stroke to help them regain motor function. It has also been shown to be effective in treating pulmonary problems by strengthening and conditioning the lungs.
Elderly patients who are considered at high risk of falling can be given exercises that resemble real-life scenarios to help them overcome balance-related issues.
Whether you are recovering from an injury, have an illness that affects the musculoskeletal system, or are recovering from a heart attack or stroke, find out how physical therapy may benefit you.
If you are in the San Antonio, Texas, area and think you or someone you know can benefit from physical therapy, contact the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine by calling (210) 692-7400 or request an appointment online to get started on a better, more improved you!