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What Is Orthopaedic Physiotherapy?

By Paul Cartmell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Orthopaedic physiotherapy is the treatment of injuries and medical conditions using medications and manipulation techniques to repair injuries and damage caused to the musculoskeletal system. The aim of an orthopaedic physiotherapist is to help a patient to regain the mobility and proper functioning of the injured area before returning to a self-sufficient life. Rehabilitation programs are designed for each specific patient by a physiotherapist after the completion of an assessment of the injuries and mobility of the patient.

Muscular problems caused by injuries during regular use or when the body is placed under stress are usually initially treated by a doctor or other medical professional before orthopaedic physiotherapy is administered to control the patient's rehabilitation. Numerous muscular injuries are treated by a physiotherapist, including the simple overuse of muscles caused by work-related movements to strained muscles that reduce mobility and cause severe pain. Muscle damage is one of the common injuries treated by an orthopedic physiotherapist to speed recovery times and relieve pain.

Skeletal injuries and bone damage are also treated during a course of physiotherapy to avoid future problems and to ease the pain caused by medical conditions that injure the joints and bones. Broken bones are often treated to avoid bone fragments being left on the bone that can further damage the area of the body and cause pain later in the life of the patient. Rehabilitation programs can be created for bone damage, from fractures to severe breaks. Long-term medical conditions can be treated with orthopaedic physiotherapy for medical conditions including arthritis that can result in inflammation of the tendons, muscles, and surrounding tissues causing severe pain. Joint pain is often treated in areas such as the wrist, knees, and hips as well.

During treatments using orthopaedic physiotherapy, the therapist often tries to relieve pain in the patient using techniques other than the issuing of medication. In some cases, the long-term use of pain medications allows the body to build resistance to the medications thereby reducing their effectiveness. Pain relief is attempted using massage, manipulation, and the use of hydrotherapy. Throughout the course of therapies provided for a patient, the therapist attempts to build up the movement of the injured areas of the body without damaging the region further with too much work.

To become an orthopaedic physiotherapist, most countries, including the U.S., require that each candidate complete college courses relating to therapy. Professional qualifications and licensing are also commonly required before a therapist can begin to practice legally. Regular continuing education is usually required to maintain the license.

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