Orthopedics is a medical specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, correction, prevention, and treatment of patients with skeletal deformities – disorders of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and skin. These elements make up the musculoskeletal system.

Your body’s musculoskeletal system is a complex system of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves and allows you to move, work, and be active. Once devoted to the care of children with spine and limb deformities, orthopedics now cares for patients of all ages, from newborns with clubfeet, to young athletes requiring arthroscopic surgery, to older people with arthritis.

The physicians who specialize in this area are called orthopedic surgeons or orthopedists.

Who is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

An orthopedic surgeon is a physician devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation of injuries, disorders, and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system. This system includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons.

While orthopedic surgeons are familiar with all aspects of the musculoskeletal system, many orthopaedists specialize in certain areas, such as the foot and ankle, hand, shoulder and elbow, spine, hip, or knee. Orthopedic surgeons may also choose to focus on specific fields like pediatrics, trauma, reconstructive surgery, oncology (bone tumors), or sports medicine.

What is Orthopedic Physiotherapy?

This is the branch of physiotherapy concerned with the treatment of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments Orthopaedic Physiotherapy also includes pre and post-operative rehabilitation of hip, shoulder, and knee.

Initially the physiotherapist will carry out a clinical assessment and this is followed by appropriate treatments. It is important to get to the source of the problem and prevent a re-occurrence.

The treatment goal of the orthopedic physiotherapist is to:

  • Provide pain relief,
  • Increase joint range,
  • Improve strength and flexibility
  • Restore the patient to full function

Orthopedic Conditions treated by an orthopedic physiotherapist:

•   Ligament Strain, Sprain or tear
•   Fracture Rehabilitation
•   Inflammation of tendons or Bursa
•   Osteo -Arthritis
•   Rheumatoid – Arthritis
•   Osteoporosis
•   Ankylosing Spondylitis
•   Scoliosis
•   Spondylolisthesis
•   Spondylolysis
•   Surgical Rehabilitation of Hip, Shoulder, Knee and Foot/Ankle

Pre-operative physiotherapy can help to strengthen a patient physically and cardiovascularly. In the case of a joint physiotherapy can help maintain and improve range of movement before surgery and educate the client on their post-operative rehabilitation. This will facilitate the client to recover from surgery at a faster rate.

Physio treatments of orthopedic conditions can include the following:

a) Manual therapy:

This is a carefully graded system of moving the joints to reduce pain and restore normal mobility of the joints. It includes mobilization, manipulation, and other related techniques.

b) Massage:

Techniques: vary from relaxing light pressure massage to deep friction massage to breakdown scar tissue in muscle or ligaments.

c) Ultrasound Therapy:

An electrical machine that produces ultrasonic waves that are transmitted into the affected area using conducting gel. This in turn causes a  micro-massage effect which promotes circulation, reduces pain, and increases regenerative powers of tissues and helps muscle relaxation. It is very helpful in the treatment of soft tissue injuries.

d) Interferential Therapy:

This is an electrical current delivered to the injured part via 2 or 4 electrodes. It sends two interfering currents into the body part which feels to the patient like pins and needles. It can be used to relieve pain. reduce swelling and optimize the healing process.

e) Neuromuscular Stimulation:

An electrical machine with variable currents is applied using electrodes to strengthen very weak muscles. This is very useful following knee surgery to strengthen the muscles that support the knee. Portable versions are now available to rent or buy.

f) Dry-needling: 

This is a western medical technique and involves the insertion of fine needles into dysfunctional muscles. Dry needling works by changing the way your body feels pain and by helping the body heal trigger points. Myofascial trigger points are tender nodules within taut bands of muscle. There are electrical and biochemical changes associated with dry needling that assist in the healing process.

g) Acupuncture:

This is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of fine needles. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions. In the area of orthopedic physiotherapy it is used to reduce pain and normalize movement. It complements other physiotherapy treatments.

h) Taping for joint support/alignment:

This will ease pain and facilitate normal movement.

i) Program of Rehabilitation Exercises:

Home Exercises are scientifically designed to help your posture, improve the mobility of your spine and joints, stabilize and strengthen the muscles that support your bones. This will be Taylor made and graded so you will reach your full potential. This is a critical part of your journey to return to full health


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