Orthopedic surgeons offer enhanced patient care through referrals for chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. By supporting patients with additional treatment options some may be able to avoid surgery, prolong the need for surgery, or become healthier and better prepared for surgery. The non-invasive techniques used by these healthcare specialists provide a support mechanism for both conservative and post-operative orthopedic care; allowing patients to better manage their chronic joint or muscle pain, while helping them to maintain or improve mobility. By incorporating these disciplines into their overall orthopedic care programs, orthopedic surgeons are able to provide their patients with a greater level of care and support.
The Role of Physical Therapy in Orthopedic Care
Physical therapists can have a significant role to play in the treatment of a wide range of orthopedic disorders. While most patients recognize the general importance of physical therapy in post-operative rehabilitation, many might overlook the vital part it can play in the larger scope of orthopedic care.
Physical therapists, like chiropractors, rely on a variety of non-invasive techniques to treat their patients. These can range from strengthening and range-of-motion exercises to water therapy and deep tissue massage. According to ATI Physical Therapist, Jane Cobler, “physical therapy can play a key role in both conservative and post-operative management to facilitate recovery and improved function”. This clearly supports the goals of the orthopedist, and it is not unusual for a physician or surgeon to recommend physical therapy as a major part of a patient’s overall treatment plan.
Physical Therapy for Conservative Care – Many orthopedic disorders, ranging from minor injuries to chronic diseases, can be often be effectively treated by including physical therapy in the patient’s recovery plan. For example, arthritis and bursitis respond well to stretching and strengthening exercises as well as basic posture and body mechanics training. These same physical therapy techniques, along with ultrasound or electrical stimulation, can often help patients experiencing chronic joint pain (particularly of the hip, knee, or ankle) avoid or postpone surgery. Patients suffering from overuse injuries respond particularly well to basic physical therapy procedures, and can often avoid further injury by adopting the strengthening and conditioning exercise they learn during their physical therapy sessions.
Physical Therapy Before Surgery– The healthier the patient prior to surgery, the better the outcome and ability for a fast recovery. Physical therapy can play a role in the overall health of a patient who is preparing for surgery. Through therapy a patient can improve flexibility and increase muscle strength.
Physical Therapy for Post-Operative Care – Traumatic injuries, and even some degenerative tissue diseases, often call for surgery to repair the damage to the joint, muscle or surrounding tissues. In these cases physical therapy is almost always a major part of the patient’s recovery and rehabilitation. Following most orthopedic operations a physical therapist will work with the patient to manage their pain, improve their strength and flexibility, and recover any lost mobility. Patients who have undergone a total joint replacement will naturally require significant physical therapy, not only to manage post-operative discomfort but most importantly to build up strength and range of motion in the new joint.
The Benefits of Chiropractic for Orthopedic Care
Patient’s are often surprised when an orthopedist refers them to a chiropractor as part of their core treatment. But for some patients it may help provide some pain relief or help them to become better prepared for surgery.
Pain Management – Aside from obvious traumatic injuries, chronic pain is one of the chief complaints patients have when consulting an orthopedist. While some conditions may require surgery to address the issue, some can be treated by less invasive procedures. Sometimes a patient’s chronic pain is symptomatic of a larger musculoskeletal condition that can be helped through chiropractic care. In which case, an orthopedic surgeon may opt to refer a patient to a chiropractor as part of a complete pain management plan.
Strengthening Exercises – A large part of chiropractic care focuses on strengthening the body’s core structure. Chiropractors educate their patients on exercises that can strengthen and support the body’s muscles, ligaments, and joints. This can help to avoid further injury (either from overuse or trauma), and can promote faster healing in the event surgery is ultimately needed.
Delaying Elective Surgeries – Many orthopedic diagnosis inevitably point to surgery. However, by incorporating chiropractic care into the patient’s overall treatment plan physicians are often able to postpone the necessary surgery until the patient is better prepared to undergo the procedure.
Preparing for Surgery – In some orthopedic cases surgery can not be avoided. But recovery can often be made easier for the patient if chiropractic treatment is included as part of their pre-operative care. The stronger and healthier the patient is going into surgery, the better he or she will respond to post-operative physical therapy.
Orthopedic, Physical Therapy, and Chiropractic Working Together
When a patient consults an orthopedic surgeon they naturally rely on that physician’s extensive knowledge and skill to diagnose their condition and create an effective treatment plan. In many cases that plan includes physical therapy and may sometimes include chiropractic care. Whether it is to directly address a person’s injuries or chronic pain, or to help them prepare for and recover from a necessary surgical procedure, incorporating physical therapy and chiropractic care into the larger orthopedic treatment plan makes it possible for surgeons and physicians to effectively care for the needs of their patients.
At Fox Valley Orthopedics we are deeply committed to the continued health and well being of our patients. Our sub-specialized orthopedic surgeons and physicians have dedicated themselves to delivering the highest quality of care for the people in our community. From diagnosis to treatment, surgery through to recovery and rehabilitation, the needs of the patient always come first. Our doctors work closely with support specialists from many fields, including chiropractors and physical therapists, so that every patient receives the care and treatment they need to enjoy a more active and pain free lifestyle.