Orthopedic physical therapy deals with treating disorders and conditions affecting the skeletal system, which consists of the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. Orthopedic conditions and injuries can include fractures, dislocations, sprains, herniated disks, muscle strain, sports injuries, and spinal cord injuries. Orthopedic physical therapy involves using manual therapy to help patients improve movement, function, and strength. Physical Therapy Specialists are licensed and trained in all areas of orthopedic medicine.
Orthopedic physical therapy specialists utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities to help patients overcome physical limitations and recover health. These modalities may include massage, exercise, electrotherapy, and other non-invasive techniques. Orthopedic Physical Therapy Specialists is also skilled at preventing injury by performing soft-tissue manipulation and other exercises. Some of these techniques may be used as stand alone treatments or part of a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
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Many physical therapy treatments focus on low-level techniques, such as soft tissue manipulation, which are safe and effective ways to increase flexibility and improve strength. Low level therapies can also target specific injuries. For example, orthopedic physical therapy therapists may treat tennis elbow by soft-tissue methods to improve elbow joint range of motion and strength, which will decrease the pain experienced by patients. Many therapists are also skilled at developing a patient’s strength and flexibility through stretching and strengthening exercises and the combination of these exercises with the application of traction devices and orthopedic supports.
Some orthopedic physical therapy techniques focus on the development of a patient’s total fitness level. This therapy is often used in conjunction with massage therapy to prevent injuries from reoccurring. This type of therapy has been shown to reduce fatigue and increase fitness, and to promote weight loss. Massage therapy for athletes has been shown to promote increased training performance and reduce the recovery time from athletic injuries.
Some orthopedic physical therapy treatments combine soft-tissue manipulation with strength training and stretching. This combination allows for improved muscle strength and flexibility, as well as the promotion of increased muscle strength after an injury. This treatment is especially helpful after an injury causes swelling in the injured area, as well as the decreased ability to move that area. Muscle strengthening exercises can be used to return the injured area to its normal mobility again.
In some cases, an injury results in multiple problems that must be treated together. This is commonly seen in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, herniated discs, head injuries, neck injuries, soft tissue injuries, and musculoskeletal issues. In these cases, orthopedic physical therapy can provide an individual with a comprehensive treatment program that addresses each specific condition. This coordinated approach can result in improved function and mobility, as well as prevention of recurrences of these specific conditions.