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Orthopedic Care


Over 300 bones in the human body and you know when just one isn’t functioning properly. It may be an injury that doesn’t seem to heal, it could be daily back or knee pain, or it could be stiff or soreness after sleeping/being sedentary for a long period of time. This is your body communicating that it’s time for some orthopedic care.

So, who are these orthopedic specialists?

Inside the big umbrella of orthopedics, there are many general orthopedists that specialize in specific parts of the anatomy or certain diseases. Often patients wonder if they should visit their primary care doctor or find an orthopedic specialist. Any time there is a suspected traumatic or repetitive injury to a bone, joint, tendon, or nerve, orthopedic care is your best choice.

These doctors specialize in the entire musculoskeletal system, understanding the various types of joints, muscles, nerves, bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and other connective tissue. There are many musculoskeletal conditions and injuries that cause pain, and often, orthopedic specialists can reduce or eliminate pain.

Some Conditions Treated by Orthopedics

There are a large number of conditions and injuries treated with orthopedic care. A few of these include:

Pain, swelling, injury, and joint stiffness can all lead to a limited range of motion, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Receiving orthopedic care from a physical therapist can help you to increase your range of motion and improve your everyday life.

Injuries that can be addressed with physical therapy include:

These orthopedic conditions are often chronic, meaning they can last months to years or more, and they are often progressive, which means they get worse over time – especially without treatment. Some conditions are related to age, some are genetic, and some are caused by overuse of the affected area.

Is an Orthopedic Specialist the same as an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedics is the medical specialty that focuses on the injuries and diseases of your body’s musculoskeletal system that compromises bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Whether a patient is struggling with chronic pain from arthritis or a sports injury, an orthopedist can help diagnose and treat the problem, but an orthopedist does not perform surgery.

An orthopedic surgeon can provide all the same care as an orthopedist, but they perform surgery as well.

Who should I see?

If you have been injured, have been experiencing chronic or intense pain, or another condition and you are hoping to avoid surgery, consider trusting in orthopedic care in physical therapy. A physical therapist is a movement expert and can determine the cause of your chronic pain, as well as share preventative measures to minimize pain.

If all non-surgical actions are deemed unsuccessful, your physical therapist will refer you to their trusted orthopedic surgeon.

Am I going to need surgery?

Some think pain is a normal part of aging and surgery should wait for obvious reasons. The right orthopedic care provides each patient with the right treatment at the right time. Surgery is only recommended when nonsurgical treatment measures have failed to provide relief or in the circumstance when nonsurgical options are likely to be unsuccessful.

When beginning with Desert Edge Physical Therapy, care is specific to each patient and our goal is to always improve our patient’s quality of life.

When should I seek Orthopedic Care?

Your Orthopedic Care Consultation

Going to an orthopedic consultation is not as routine as seeing your general practitioner. Because of this, many patients don’t know what to expect out of the initial consultation. The good news is, it’s not too far off from a general check-up.

Your orthopedist will conduct a comprehensive examination and ask a number of questions to get a more clear sense of the issue.

You can expect the orthopedist to ask about your general health, past health conditions, family medical history, and other existing conditions you may have. He or she will want to know about conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, anemia, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension because these issues may influence treatment options.

Be sure to clearly explain your pain with detailed words like “burning”, “stinging”, or “dull”. Mention the impact your pain has had on your functionality (“It hurts when I…”). Also, make sure to mention previous injuries because they could be having an effect on your current orthopedic condition.

How to Prepare for your Orthopedic Appointment

You and your orthopedic specialist will be discussing your specific condition, the course of treatment, and the projected rehabilitation process. You can expect an examination and a few tests to get a better understanding of the issue during the initial consultation as well.

Physical examinations are important for the specialist to assess the patient’s range of motion, swelling, reflexes, and skin condition. The purpose of a physical examination is to get a general understanding of your capacity to walk, sit, stand, climb stairs, bending forward/backward, etc. These tests are used to either confirm or exclude a diagnosis.

If your knee hurts, wear loose pants, or bring shorts. If it’s your shoulder, bring a tank top. Your physician will need to see the painful area as well as the skin around it to make a diagnosis – plus, you’ll be a lot more comfortable in your own clothes vs a paper gown.

Getting your questions answered is very important, however, coming in with a 20-page list isn’t reasonable. Narrow your questions down to a couple of important questions. If you have more as you go along or even later, follow up by email or phone.

Some questions to keep in mind as you begin your orthopedic care journey:

X-rays and MRIs may be done prior to the visit or on the day of the appointment. The photographic images of the injured area will help to determine the degree of the injury, as well as abnormalities, cysts, and other deformities. These images can also identify if the area is subject to disease.

Once a diagnosis is reached, your specialist will decide which course of treatment is best for you and your body. First starting with all non-surgical possibilities such as exercise, rehabilitative treatments, and even modalities and medications, and then only deciding on a surgical solution as the last possibility.

When meeting with a physical therapist for your orthopedic care, you’re choosing a holistic approach to your treatment. Physical therapy can provide total orthopedic care with speeding up the healing process, reduce pain, and helping to restore lost range of motion.

How to Get The Most out of Physical Therapy for Orthopedic Care

Physical therapy is only one part of your total care. In order to get the most out of your sessions, follow these three key steps.

  1. See the right specialist. Make sure your chosen physical therapist is trained and experienced with your specific condition. You can ask your health care provider about recommendations for orthopedic care such as Desert Edge Physical Therapy to meet your unique needs.
  2. Get involved. When you take responsibility for your recovery, you will get the best results. Ask questions before you get started and communicate with your physical therapist if an exercise is helping or hurting you.
  3. Do your best. Set goals you want to achieve and always keep that goal in mind. Give it all you can in your sessions and follow the exercises you are given to do at home. Your physical therapist will be helpful in pushing you when you need it, but you are the most important part of the process. Alternatively, remember to rest when you need to rest.

How to Find an Orthopedic Care Specialist

  1. You can look for a board-certified Orthopedic Certified Specialist. To earn this certification, a physical therapist must past a rigid board exam, complete either an APTA-certified clinical residency in orthopedics or complete at least 2,000 hours of direct patient care in orthopedics.
  2. Another option is a board-certified Sports Certified specialist if you are looking to optimize your athletic performance. You will need to find a clinic that specializes in orthopedic sports physical therapy.
  3. Look for a trained manual therapist. Manual trained physical therapists are highly trained in diagnostics and treatments that focus on hands-on treatments.
  4. Talk to friends, colleagues, neighbors, or teammates to find out their positive and negative experiences with local physical therapists.
  5. Read the online reviews, but take them with a grain of salt. It’s not uncommon for some positive reviews to be fake, and it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t make everyone happy. Notice how the organization replies to negative comments and notice trends in what patients like.
  6. Visit the clinic for an initial consultation. Notice if the physical therapists are engaged with patients one-on-one and if you feel your physical therapist is fully engaged with you. Does the facility appear clean and well-equipped? Did the front office treat you with respect? Will the cancellation, billing, and scheduling policies work for you?

Physical Therapy for Orthopedic Care

An orthopedic physical therapist specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions and injuries that affect your musculoskeletal system. That includes focusing on your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues.

Depending on your condition, your physical therapist may customize your orthopedic care with the use of exercises, therapeutic modalities, and assistive devices to reduce pain, repair any damage, and restore physical function. In most cases, you can visit a physical therapist without a referral and insurance will cover it. If you are unsure about your specific situation, feel free to call us and we are happy to inquire for you.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, the orthopedic care experts at Desert Edge Physical Therapy work with your body to achieve better mobility and strength and bring you back to both activities and everyday life in no time. Once you find a physical therapist you trust, fully commit to a treatment plan, and openly communicate with your therapist so you can get the most out of your sessions and get back to a high-quality way of life.

Why Choose Desert Edge PT

Desert Edge Physical Therapy provides individualized treatment with compassionate, hands-on care. We do not rush patients or clinicians. Instead, we perform comprehensive evaluations and give patients those much-needed pushes of encouragement when things get challenging. Our team works with you to reach your recovery goals. Reach out to us today.

published on Monday, September 14th, 2020