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What is Orthopedic therapy?

Orthopedic therapy for senior


Orthopedic therapy is a branch of orthopedics that focuses on musculoskeletal issues and treats conditions that affect mobility, endurance, and strength. This kind of therapy basically treats issues affecting bones, muscles and tendons, ligaments, and joints. Physical therapy can help the body regain the lost endurance and relieve some of the pain that comes with musculoskeletal conditions. It also helps patients in recovering from any orthopedic surgery. While many people think that orthopedic therapy is just standard physical therapy, it is not so. Orthopedic therapy includes numerous types of physical exercises along with plenty of other treatments to help with problems impacting the neuromusculoskeletal system. This kind of therapy is an essential step in the healing process of ailments and injuries. While you might think getting surgery done is all that matters, physical therapy and other treatments can help you regain your flexibility and get rid of the post-surgery pain and engage better in daily activities.

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What does an Orthopedic therapist do?

An orthopedic therapist specializes in the diagnostics and treatment of injuries and conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. As mentioned, the musculoskeletal system consists of bones, muscles and tendons, ligaments, and joints, and thus, an orthopedic therapist treat these areas of the body. Depending on the condition of the patient, the orthopedic therapist uses a variety of therapies, assistive devices, as well as manual therapies in order to reduce pain, restore physical abilities, and repair damage. Such physical therapists can either practice in outpatient rehabilitation settings or have home visits or work in hospitals or clinics. An orthopedic therapist has a doctorate in orthopedic physical therapy, passed a state exam, and completed a residency program to become one. However, there are also non-specialized orthopedic therapists with no doctorate, but it is best to go to experts in such cases who have orthopedic experience. Upon finding an orthopedic therapist, you must stick to the treatment plan. Furthermore, you must be clear with your therapist regarding your concerns.

Types of Orthopedic treatments

There are different types of orthopedic treatments. Let us see what they are:

Hot and cold therapy

Hot therapy and cold therapy are orthopedic treatment methods that help in relieving pain. The application of heat can be used for issues like stiff muscles, arthritis, muscle cramps, and spasms. It can relax the muscles and increase mobility and flexibility. On the other hand, the application of ice is better for sudden injuries, like a muscle tear or sprained ankle that occurred during a sports event or even a workout session. By cutting off blood flow, ice therapy can help with reducing inflammation. It should be used in intervals and not for too long at a stretch.

Exercise therapy

The second kind of orthopedic treatment which is very common is exercise therapy, which includes physical activities or movements to increase muscular function, and strength, and reduce any kind of discomfort. Exercise therapy is usually used with other types of treatments like surgeries or medication. The primary focus of this kind of treatment is on physical movements to relax the muscles.

E-stim (TENS or NMES)

E-stim stands for Electrical stimulation and is a treatment method that uses electricity to decrease or increase activity in the nervous system. TENS and NMES are both therapy techniques that use electricity to treat discomfort. NMES stands for Neuromuscular electrical stimulation and is used for muscle spasms, increasing blood circulation, and maintaining motion. On the other hand, TENS stands for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and is used for pain relief and to regain mobility in the body.


Traction is another kind of orthopedic treatment method that reduces pressure on vertebral discs, decreasing discomfort. It manually stretches the spine, reducing pressure, and ultimately discomfort in the affected areas. Traction is a kind of decompression therapy that can be used for a range of conditions such as degenerative disc disease, sciatica, herniated discs, and more. When used correctly, this treatment method can be quite effective.


Hydrotherapy or aquatic therapy is a kind of orthopedic treatment that is performed in water with the intention of helping with musculoskeletal or neurologic conditions.

Soft tissue manipulation

Soft tissue manipulation is not a single treatment method but an amalgamation of various advanced techniques that are used to increase the immobile and stiff soft tissues. It also helps with those tissues that have poor circulation because of increased tension or inactivity.

Joint mobilization

Lastly, another form of orthopedic treatment is joint mobilization, which is manual in nature. It is aimed at increasing joint motion and decreasing discomfort. In this technique, targeted forces or pressures are applied on joints in particular directions in order to help with their mobility.

Orthopedic rehabilitation

Orthopedic rehabilitation is a treatment plan for orthopedic patients that uses conservative measures like manual techniques, therapy modalities, as well as therapeutic exercises. It is a specialized physical therapy program that helps people with the recovery from musculoskeletal surgeries, and injuries. In addition, it can enhance your level of well-being while you are coping with an orthopedic problem by reducing symptoms. It might also assist you in averting future issues. This kind of training is also known as musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Orthopedic rehabilitation is supervised by a doctor and uses numerous approaches in an attempt to make the body more flexible and strong.

How can you get the best results from orthopedic therapy?

To get the best results from orthopedic therapy, you have to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, remember that it takes time. You have to be patient before you can see results. It is not possible to regain flexibility and functionality overnight and you must understand that it might take months to get the best results.

Secondly, consult the right therapist for yourself. You must have a therapist who is capable of dealing with your particular problem and thus, can prescribe exercises that are the most effective. To do that, you must make sure beforehand that the therapist is knowledgeable in the particular field and can help you achieve results.

Thirdly, try to get involved. Remember that it is your body that you are treating. Thus, you must make every effort to understand what is going on and take charge of it. Ask questions, clear out doubts and even ask for additional ways to help with your problem. Moreover, repeat the exercises at home, as prescribed, and do not simply rely on the therapist to heal you.

Lastly, you must work hard. It is easy to lose motivation and the drive to keep going, but you can only see the best results if you put in your best effort. As we already said, it takes time, so you must keep on going.

How to find an orthopedic therapist

When trying to find an orthopedic therapist, the best way to go about it is to call up therapists and ask if they can treat your particular situation. In case you have had surgery, ask the hospital or clinic to help you with finding a therapist, or in some cases, they recommend an orthopedic therapist themselves. Ask friends or family too, if they know any therapist or not and if they can suggest anyone.

What to expect at the Orthopedic therapist

Orthopedic therapists primarily focus on your functionality, which is why you must expect to do physical activities during such appointments. Based on your body condition and particular situation, the therapist will give you strength training or other exercises that will be effective for your specific problem and challenge it. Furthermore, expect the use of instruments and tools, which help with the healing process so that you can do regular activities after surgery. In addition, the therapist might also prescribe additional exercises that you will have to do at home by yourself. With an orthopedic therapist, you can expect a complete exercise plan to target your specific issues and reduce them in the best ways possible.

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