Left untreated, orthopedic injuries – those typically affecting joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones – can have far-reaching consequences for your overall quality of life. Because these injuries affect the way your body is able to move, they can lead to limited mobility or increased pain while doing the tasks of daily living.
Fortunately, there are many ways to treat these injuries and ensure health and well-being. Outpatient physical therapy offers major benefits for those suffering from orthopedic injuries, and can help strengthen and restore physical function. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Outpatient Physical Therapy?
The term “physical therapy” covers quite a bit of ground, and can include any combination of rehabilitation therapies meant to improve your physical wellness after an injury or surgery. While the human body has a remarkable capacity for healing, sometimes it doesn’t heal quite as effectively as one might hope.
When that happens, there can be lingering pain after an injury, or you may find that you have an unexpectedly decreased range of motion. Physical therapy is a way to help coach the body along during the healing process to ensure that you maintain or even increase your previous mobility.
With outpatient physical therapy, you get the benefits of these therapies without an extended hospital stay. You’ll be able to receive services from a physical therapist in a rehabilitation facility, at your therapist’s office, or in some cases in the comfort of your own home. Then, once your session is done, you’ll be free to resume your normal activities.
What Type of Exercises and Routines Will You Do in Physical Therapy?
The specific exercises your physical therapist recommends will depend largely on the nature of your injury and the treatment plan you develop together. But to help give you a sense of what that might entail, here are a few of the more common ones:
- Manual Therapies
If you hear “physical therapy” and imagine assisted stretching or deep tissue massage, you’re actually thinking of manual therapies. These exercises are designed to help patients by activating muscles, increasing blood flow, and loosening stiff joints and ligaments.
- Endurance Training
No, you won’t be asked to run a triathlon, but endurance training is a good way to help encourage your body’s recovery. This type of training will typically involve the use of equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes, or elliptical machines while being safely supervised by your therapist.
- Thermal Therapies
Ice packs and hot baths aren’t just home remedies for aching muscles. Heat and cold have proven therapeutic effects, and when used as part of a recovery regimen can help make a big difference as part of your physical training. And they feel pretty good, too!
How Long Does Outpatient Physical Therapy Last?
Typically, most outpatient physical therapy sessions last an hour or less, and take place two or three times per week. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a plan based on your particular needs and the nature of your injury.
Your injury will also determine how long you need to be in therapy. Generally speaking, different parts of the body take different amounts of time to heal. For example, physical therapy for a muscle injury may take less than a month, whereas healing injured ligaments may take as much as twelve weeks.
That’s why it’s important to consult with your physical therapist and be patient with yourself during the recovery process. The best way to ensure you fully heal is to give your body both the time and help that it needs to do so.
Should You Get Outpatient Physical Therapy?
If you’ve suffered an injury that has left you in pain, have undergone or plan to undergo orthopedic surgery, or have simply noticed a loss in your previous range of motion, outpatient physical therapy could help to improve your quality of life.
The best way to find out is to schedule an evaluation and have a healthcare professional determine if outpatient physical therapy is right for you. To get started, please call Hancock Health’s rehabilitation services department at 317-468-4472.