The information on this Web site is provided by Guy Terry, PT, OCS for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care, and medical advice and services are not being offered.
If you have, or suspect you have, a health problem you should consult your primary healthcare provider.
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This Site Was Developed With You In Mind
Whether you are a current patient, potential patient, or family member of a patient or potential patient, you will find plenty of information on our knowledgebase to help you better understand your problem and your rehabilitation.
All posts have been written in language that doesn’t require any special knowledge. They’ve been organized into topics that cover most questions that we receive on a regular basis. Look over the categories, click the titles, and see what’s new. Are you and RSS fan? Set up an RSS feed to get the latest postings on a variety of topics. Don’t have time to browse? Use the search feature on this page to quickly find those posts which are pertinent to you. Have a question about or relating to a particular post? Leave a comment and your comment with our answer may end up being posted for others to learn from.
What Do Orthopedic Physical Therapists Do?
While most people inherently understand that if they lift more weight, they will increase muscle strength and mass, or if they spend more time jogging, their cardiovascular system will adapt to the stress with increased efficiency, most people do not realize that the same adaptive principals apply to most tissues of the body. Orthopedic physical therapists work with the neurmusculoskeletal system (nerves, muscles, and bones) to effect change – such as increasing the resting length of a muscle, or restoring range of motion – to restore normal mechanics to a joint or an entire extremity, thereby eliminating symptoms and restoring function.
What separates orthopedic physical therapists from other practitioners (and from PT generalists) is an understanding of normal and pathological tissues, how they respond to imposed mechanical stress, and how to progressively change their structure without making a condition worse. For example, an orthopedic physical therapist understands the difference between tendonosis and tendonitis, and that one responds very well to a specific kind of muscle strength training, while the other can easily become aggravated by it. Another example would be the difference between two types of back pain – one of which responds instantly to extension (some form of bending backward) and will benefit from several frequent treatments, while the other will respond to very light extension exercises performed over weeks, with intervention by the therapist only on a week-to-week basis.
An orthopedic physical therapist also knows when to say when – in some instances physical therapy will not be the most beneficial treatment – and you and your doctor should know that as quickly as possible. In some cases you may need additional specialist evaluation – by an orthopedic or neurological surgeon, for example – or you simply have a problem that will respond to another modality of treatment – for example a frozen shoulder that responds better to dynamic splinting than therapy. In all of these situations you and your doctor will receive prompt feedback so that you can get on to the most beneficial treatment for your situation.
By the way, those therapists that refer to themselves as “Board Certified” have completed specific requirements regarding the number and type of patients that they treat, and sit for a board certification examination every 10 years. Right now, including all specialties, about 5% of practicing physical therapists in Texas are board certified specialists. To find other board certified specialists in your practice area or geographic region, see the “Resources” navigation bar, and select “Find a Board-Certified PT Specialist.”
When Should I See a Physical Therapist?
In general there is no wrong time to consider using physical therapy as an intervention. Some problems, such as a stiff and sore shoulder in someone over 40, should be seen as soon as possible. Other problems depend on your needs. For example, a minor strain or sprain may heal on it’s own over the course of a few weeks. If symptoms are declining, you may not need any therapy. However, if you’re an athlete, or your injury interferes with your ability to perform your regular work, a quick start to therapy might be just what you need.
Most orthopedic problems today are treated with medications, and if those medications don’t work, many doctors will suggest injections, surgery, or some other invasive procedure. Our message to you: Try Therapy First! Compared to other interventions, diagnostic tests, and specialists, physical therapy is inexpensive and relatively free of side effects. Check out this page from the American Physical Therapy Association or browse this knowledgebase to find out more about what physical therapy can do for you.
How Can I See a Physical Therapist?
In the state of Texas, the law requires new physical therapy patients to obtain a prescription for treatment from their healthcare provider (M.D., D.O., Podiatrist, Chiropractor, Dentist, Nurse Practioner, Physician Assistant) before treatment can be started. However, you are allowed to go directly to a physical therapist without a prescription for an initial consultation, as long as no treatment is started or no treatment recommendations are made.
If you would like to set up an appointment contact me. Usually, we already have an established relationship with your healthcare provider. If your referring healthcare provider already knows about the problem you’re coming to us for, he/she will usually send a prescription for therapy prior to your visit. In some cases, your healthcare provider may ask that you stop in for a follow-up appointment before treatment starts.
I Have Specific Questions
We have two ways to help you there – Contact us with your question, or search this knowledgebase. There are specific categories along the navigation bar, and some links that may be of interest as well. This knowledgebase is written for patients and healthcare practitioners that do not have an intimate understanding of orthopedics.