Why Physical Therapy is an Important Part of Orthopedic Care

By Jane Cobler, PT, DPT for ATIPT

Just like there are many subspecialties in the field of medicine, so too are there in the field of physical therapy. You’ll see physical therapists working in all sorts of healthcare settings across all age groups – from the hospital, to schools, to private clinics and even in your home. In orthopedic medicine specifically, physical therapy is a particularly integrated component in your care. Physical therapists are especially well-suited to guide you through orthopedic recovery because much of the treatment is targeted at “re-balancing” your musculoskeletal system to better perform functions that matter to you.

Physical therapy as a profession is responsible for restoring function and improvingatipt patients’ quality of life in the home and community. Orthopedic medicine addresses issues as it relates to the musculoskeletal system (i.e. bone, muscle, joint, ligament, and tendon). These issues are commonly traumatic, degenerative, or over-use related, among other things. Treatment approaches in orthopedic medicine include both conservative management, including: medication, injection, splinting, and physical or occupational therapy, as well as more invasive solutions such as surgery.

When it comes to orthopedic injury, physical therapy can play a key role in both conservative and post-operative management to facilitate recovery and improved function. When patients experience an orthopedic injury, key elements of their musculoskeletal system are disrupted which can result in pain and ultimately limit an individual’s ability to perform even basic daily tasks.

Absent a medical emergency and depending upon the nature of the problem, your orthopedic physician may recommend a course of physical therapy as an early treatment option. Your physical therapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation, sourcing more detailed information on the exact underlying cause for your presenting complaint. The evaluation consists of taking measurements like range of motion, strength, balance, specific clinical tests, palpating (assessing by touch) musculoskeletal structures, assessing posture and watching you move. It’s also important to hear, in your words, the nature of the problem and how it impacts your daily life.