What is Orthopedic Physical Therapy?

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What is Orthopedic Physical Therapy?


What is Orthopedic Physical Therapy?People often ask what is orthopedic physical therapy? Our therapists at North Boulder Physical Therapy know that it can greatly benefit anyone with an injury or illness that affects the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, or ligaments that cause pain, reduced mobility and loss of strength and range of motion. We can work with you if you have an injury that caused an impairment or dysfunction to the bony and soft tissue structures of your body. Those injuries might be fractures, muscle strains, ligament sprains, post-operative conditions, tendonitis, and bursitis.

If the injury or surgery stops you from doing your work and living your life, orthopedic physical therapy can help it rehabilitate the right way and improve your strength, range of motion, and overall functional mobility.

If you’ve had surgery, we will work with your surgeon to help guide you through your post-operative rehab program with the goals of getting you back to your normal lifestyle and reducing your discomfort. If you find that your current condition is causing you pain or limits your mobility you can definitely benefit from orthopedic physical therapy.

The orthopedic physical therapist will use many tools to help you during your rehabilitation, including:

  • Therapeutic modalities like heat, ice, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation
  • Assistive devices, such as walkers or canes
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Exercise tools and equipment
  • Evaluation and assessment tools
  • Mobilization or soft tissue massage instruments

In addition, exercise will be a big component of your recovery. The orthopedic physical therapist will teach you the right exercises for your specific condition to reduce your pain and regain your normal mobility. Many of the exercises you learn in orthopedic physical therapy will be done at home as well and will continue after therapy has stopped.

Exercises in orthopedic physical therapy often involve:

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching and flexibility exercises
  • Exercises to improve range of motion
  • Balance exercises
  • Functional mobility exercises
  • Endurance exercises
  • Plyometric and jumping-type exercises
  • Pilates therapy and fitness

Our therapists use manual physical therapy techniques, which is the hands-on treatment of impairments found during the assessment. The goal is to restore the injured tissues to normal function. All of our physical therapists have advanced training in manual physical therapy.

Manual therapy is combined with exercises to give:

  • Healthy and efficient joint motion
  • Maximal muscle strength and endurance
  • Coordination of movement with daily activities and recreational sports

The type of techniques used include:

  • Joint mobilizations in the extremities and spine
  • Myofascial release/soft tissue mobilization
  • Manually resisted exercise techniques
  • Cross-friction massage
  • Muscle energy technique
  • Trigger point dry needling

To maximize the effects of the manual physical therapy, a home exercise program will be developed. The goal of the home program is to reinforce the hands-on work done by your therapist.

Post-Surgical Procedures

We offer a comprehensive rehabilitation program for post-surgical procedures. We educate our patients about their procedure and the healing process to give them the tools they need to help themselves. Postoperative physical therapy is performed at the highest level with the safety and healing of the patient and preservation of function as the primary goals.

Our therapists want to achieve the fastest possible recovery without endangering the surgical repair or the patient’s safety. Regular communication with the surgeon is important. We only see patients in one-to-one treatment sessions, specifically designed for them. Protocols are followed for individual surgeons.

If you have had orthopedic surgery or have suffered a musculoskeletal injury, you should check with your doctor about a referral to us if physical therapy is needed. Many doctors refer patients to us, but you can request us as well. We work with most insurance companies. Call us and we can get you set up. In most cases, you will be scheduled within 2 days of calling us for an appointment. If it is an emergency, you will probably be seen that same day. Our therapists work with your doctor in order to get the best results. We ask for information about your condition from your doctor, including:

  • Weight bearing restrictions
  • Fracture status
  • ROM restrictions for post-surgical patients
  • Degrees of resistance allowed for post-surgical patient (e.g.: active, passive or resisted)
  • Expected limits in ROM if any, for a final outcome on a post-surgical patient
  • Type of surgical procedure and/or type of internal fixation used
  • Diagnostic testing results, if known

Your therapist will send your doctor a full written report about your progress including history, objective findings, assessment, type of treatment, and treatment frequency.

At North Boulder Physical Therapy, our orthopedic physical therapy services address these issues and more:

  • Spine rehab of all orthopedic injuries
  • Post-surgical, such as joint replacement
  • Arm and hand acute and cumulative trauma
  • Headaches and TMJ
  • Arthritis
  • Posture
  • Lymphedema

Come to North Boulder Physical Therapy in Boulder and find out what is orthopedic physical therapy and if it can work for you. You can expect a complete evaluation, education on your condition, modern treatment techniques, state of the art equipment, and an outstanding physical therapist who will make your rehabilitation a positive experience.

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