How Physical Therapy Fits into a Comprehensive Orthopedic Care Plan

Physical therapy is responsible for restoring functional movement, strength, and flexibility throughout the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments). Orthopedic medicine also addresses disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Therefore, the two are a natural pairing. Many orthopedic specialists provide frequent referrals to physical therapists to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care. Here is what you should know about how physical therapy fits into a comprehensive orthopedic care plan.

First Line Treatment

If you have an orthopedic issue, your orthopedic specialist will likely refer you to a physical therapist as a first line treatment option. Your physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation, taking into consideration not only your presenting complaint but also key factors in your health history. He or she will also make a detailed assessment of your posture, gait, strength, balance, range of motion, and other key factors.

Based on the results of your evaluation, your physical therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan with specific short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. The purpose is to retrain your body to function more fully and easily. Treatment methods include targeted in-office and at-home exercises, as well as hands-on manual treatments and pain-control techniques such as ice or heat.

Post Surgery Recovery

If you need orthopedic surgery, your orthopedist will likely refer you for post surgery physical therapy. The initial evaluation and treatment planning proceed in the same way as they do when physical therapy is used as a first line treatment, except that you will have separate sets of in-hospital and early recovery goals, as well as short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. Your physical therapist will take special care with your surgery site, and will work closely with your surgeon to ensure that you are healing as expected.

Understanding Physical Therapy Goals

Each of your physical therapy goals will be tied to a specific functional activity that you identified in your evaluation as being limited by your condition. As you work toward your goals, you will notice improvement in your ability to perform the relevant activities. You will be discharged from physical therapy when your goals are met, or when you reach maximal improvement.

A Team Effort

Healing your orthopedic issue is a collaborative effort. Your orthopedist will remain a vital part of your treatment team throughout your physical therapy experience. You may have appointments during the course of therapy, and will typically be scheduled for a follow-up after you complete physical therapy. Your orthopedist and physical therapist may communicate directly with each other, or through clinical notes that they share.

You are also a crucial member of your own treatment team. Physical therapy requires a deep, ongoing commitment to following through with both in-office and at-home exercises, as well as trust in the process. The more you put into your physical therapy experience, the more you will get out of it.

If you are seeking a customized, innovative approach to physical therapy in Matawan, NJ, please call Matawan Physical Therapy at (732) 662-4400 to schedule your initial assessment.