So your orthopedist has prescribed physical therapy to heal your injury. Now what?
Physical therapy can heal a wide range of orthopedic ailments, including sprains or tears, herniated discs, broken bones, and chronic conditions such as arthritis and spinal stenosis. PT frequently supports the healing process after orthopedic surgery, as well. For example, after a knee or hip replacement, a physical therapist helps patients adapt to their artificial joint.
If you’ve suffered an injury or undergone orthopedic surgery, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to lessen your pain and improve mobility. Although you’re likely familiar with the benefits PT provides, you may have questions about what to expect from the treatment.
Your First Appointment
At your initial PT appointment, you’ll discuss your overall health status with your physical therapist, including medications you take, prior surgeries, and the orthopedic disorder requiring treatment. The therapist will do a preliminary physical exam to assess your current range of motion, muscle strength, and pain points, with the goal of understanding how the condition is affecting your quality of life.
With this information, you’ll work together with your physical therapist to devise a plan to reduce discomfort and increase your mobility. You’ll also set goals for what you hope to accomplish by the end of the program — whether a return to your favorite sports or the ability to perform daily tasks like dressing and grooming.
Your Physical Therapy Regimen
Your physical therapist will prescribe a series of exercises and other therapies to improve your mobility, muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. These activities could feature passive exercises that the therapist executes manually or with special equipment to reduce joint stiffness and swelling. Passive exercises are typically done at the beginning of the program or after surgery before moving on to active exercises you can perform on your own. Stretching exercises, walking on a treadmill, or pedaling on a stationary bike could also be part of your PT program.
Exercises aren’t the only techniques a physical therapist employs to get patients back on their feet. The therapist might use electrical stimulation devices to alleviate pain or promote healing after tendon injuries. Other methods your therapist might use include massages to loosen stiff muscles, and contract-and-relax movements to re-stimulate impaired nerves.
A physical therapist can also show you the proper techniques to perform everyday tasks, such as picking objects up off the floor or brushing your hair. If your orthopedic ailment was due to a sports injury, a physical therapist will help you avoid another injury by modeling proper body mechanics.
When you go to your physical therapy sessions, be sure to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that allow you to move freely. At the end of each session, the therapist may apply a hot or cold pad to relax muscles and prevent soreness.
Your treatment plan will detail how often you need therapy and for how long. The duration and frequency depends on the injury or disorder and when you reach your goals. Outside of the sessions, you’ll do at-home exercises given to you by the therapist. At the end of the PT program, your mobility should be improved enough to permit you to return to your normal activities at home or on the playing field.
We Specialize in Physical Therapy
The staff at New York Bone & Joint Specialists and partner practice All Sports Physical Therapy includes top-notch PT experts who are dedicated to helping patients regain their strength and mobility. In fact, we often recommend conservative treatments rather than surgery to our patients.
Learn more by booking an appointment with us today.