Orthopedic Physical Therapy Baton Rouge
What is Orthopedic Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is a form of rehabilitative health that is used to help patients regain physical function and strength following injury or illness. Orthopedic physical therapy is just one of it's many branches and focuses specifically on the musculoskeletal system, often following athletic injury.
Injuries Treated with Orthopedic Physical Therapy
Many injuries affecting the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments or tendons can benefit from the use of orthopedic physical therapy. Among the most commonly treated conditions are:
Fractures - Treatment of fractures often requires extended periods of time in which the area of the broken bone is immobilized and weight-bearing limited. Once the bone has healed, the affected area may be weak, less flexible, have a smaller range of motion, and have overall reduced mobility and function. Orthopedic physical therapy can be used to address all of these issues.
Ligament Sprains and Tears - Tears and sprains to ligaments, particularly those in the knee, are exceptionally common among athletes. The degree of sprain / tear will determine the exact level of physical therapy needed. A therapist may use specific exercises and stretching techniques, massage, whirlpools or electrical stimulation with the goal or restoring strength, flexibility, and coordination.
Muscle Strains - Immediately following a muscle strain, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method is typically recommended. Once physical therapy can begin, exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected and surrounding muscles will be used. Therapists may also use heat or ice and soft tissue mobilization to prevent the development of scar tissue.
Post-Operative Rehabilitation - Patients who require surgery to repair torn ligaments, broken bones, and other orthopedic injuries will typically need physical therapy as part of their post-operative recovery. Similarly, there are cases where musculoskeletal complications occur as a result of surgery, and physical therapy may be useful in these instances as well.
Work-Related Injuries - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders such as sprains, strains, and tears account for 31 percent of all workplace injuries. Depending on the location, type, and severity of the injury, physical therapy may be used to help strengthen and stabilize the affected area, with the ultimate goal of the employee being able to safely return to work.
Spinal Disorders - There are many spinal conditions which can cause pain and stiffness in the back and / or neck. Among the most common are degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, arthritis, and spinal stenosis. In some cases, physical therapy can help ease the symptoms of these conditions and may even help prevent the need for more invasive treatment methods. In others, physical therapy can be an important component in recovery from a surgical procedure to correct the issue.
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Techniques
The techniques available to orthopedic physical therapists to treat their patients effectively are many. Depending on the patient and the type and severity of their injury, a therapist may choose to use any combination of these in order to achieve the best results:
- Manual Therapy - Manual therapy includes various techniques of hands-on therapy to manually manipulate areas that are painful or stiff. This can include soft tissue or joint mobilization, as well as the following:
- Dry Needling - A thin, filiform needle is used to penetrate the skin, stimulate underlying muscle and connective tissue and target certain trigger points (taut areas of muscle). Dry needling should not be confused with acupuncture.
- Instrumental Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) - IASTM is performed with ergonomically designed tools that allow therapists to more easily locate and treat restrictions within the soft tissue while also applying an ideal amount of pressure. Conditions treatable with IASTM include chronic inflammation and soft tissue fibrosis.
- Therapeutic Exercise - Therapeutic exercises are those specifically targeted to restore function and range of motion within the affected area of the musculoskeletal system. Various aids and types of exercise equipment may be used, including treadmills, stationary bikes, exercise balls, and resistance bands.
- Aquatic Physical Therapy - Aquatic PT is typically performed in special pools that are smaller in size and equipped with adaptations such as handrails for patient comfort and safety. Exercises performed in these pools can help with muscle strength, balance, and coordination. Aquatic PT is a good choice for patients who have weight-bearing restrictions, cannot tolerate higher levels of impact, or who are experiencing low back pain.
- Certified Hand Therapy - Certified hand therapy uses therapeutic techniques to treat conditions specific to the hand and upper extremity, including the arm, elbow and shoulder. Certified hand therapists are occupational or physical therapists who have practiced for at least 5 years, have over 4,000 hours of experience, and who have passed a certification exam.
- Modalities - Modalities are the various tools used to enhance physical therapy and help patients regain strength and function. Among the most common modalities used by orthopedic physical therapists are:
- Electrical Stimulation
- Hot and cold therapies
- Kinesio Taping - Kinesio taping is a specific modality that has become incredibly useful in the practice of physical therapy. Kinesio tape is strong, flexible cloth tape that can be applied therapeutically to provide stability, support muscle function, improve circulation, and reduce pain. However, these benefits can only be achieved when the tape is properly applied by a trained therapist.
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