What is Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Updated: Apr 23
Let’s dive into the most common specialty within physical therapy—orthopedics. Orthopedic physical therapy involves the musculoskeletal system. This includes your bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and connective tissue. Pretty much seems like the whole body, right? Well, not far from it! Ultimately, this system provides support, stability, and binds the body together.
Orthopedic physical therapy can be provided in multiple settings. Most times, it is provided in an outpatient clinic, but sometimes it’s provided in the hospital, a skilled nursing facility, sports facilities, or even your home! It all depends on the progress and severity of your injury or condition. Skilled health professionals will determine which is best for the patient at that time.
Some of the injuries or conditions treated by this physical therapist (PT) can include, but not be limited to: arthritis, cancer, knee instability, lower back pain, muscular dystrophy, or even Parkinson’s disease. There is a variety of conditions these PT’s can treat and that’s because the musculoskeletal system makes up over half of the body contents! Therefore, physical therapy is not only vital, but also extremely rewarding because it effects how your body moves greatly. This exhibits how physical therapy can immensely improve the patient’s quality of life.
A PT who specializes in orthopedics can assess your condition or injury and diagnose it, depending on the condition you may have. Once the evaluation is done, the PT will determine the appropriate movement diagnosis, create a treatment plan, provide therapeutic care, and educate you on how to manage your current injury or condition. This will help the patient to manage any swelling, rebuild strength, regain range of motion (ROM), and best of all; inform the patient of ways to avoid another flare up and regression of the injury or condition.
The treatment plans can consist of passive or active modalities. Passive modalities are treatments given by the physical therapist while active modalities are performed by the patient. Treatments can include electrical stimulation, heat or ice packs, traction, hydrotherapy, soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilization, and even dry needling. These are used for various reasons and only by the physical therapist or the physical therapy assistant. The physical therapist might also prescribe exercise for the patient as well.
Thankfully in all 50 states, you are not required to be referred to physical therapy. If you feel that physical therapy is what you need, then you are able to attend at your own cost (of course). That’s where insurance can help, although there may be some stipulations.
Next week, we will delve into pediatric physical therapy!