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By definition orthopedics is “the medical specialty concerned with the preservation, restoration, and development of form and function of the musculoskeletal system, extremities, spine and associated structures by medical, surgical and physical methods”. Orthopedic Physical Therapy deals with the physical methods portion of this definition. Orthopedic physical therapists diagnose, manage and treat disorders of the musculoskeletal system as well as rehabilitate patients after orthopedic surgery. This specialty of physical therapy is often found in the outpatient and private practice clinical setting. Orthopedic physical therapists are trained in the treatment of acute sport injuries, spinal and joint pain and injuries, arthritis and muscle strains just to name a few. Joint mobilizations, strength training, soft tissue mobilization, modalities (i.e. ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation, and hot/cold packs) are some of the many treatment techniques often used to expedite recovery in the orthopedic setting. Those who have suffered injury or disease affecting the muscles, bones, ligaments or tendons will benefit from assessment by a physical therapist specialized in orthopedics.
Dimitri Cosmios, PT, DPT, CSCS