Page Contents

After surgery, illness, or an acute medical event, your healthcare provider may suggest incorporating orthopedic rehabilitation into your recovery plan. If you aren’t quite sure what orthopedic rehabilitation is or what to expect from the treatment, this blog post is for you. Learning more about orthopedic rehabilitation can help demystify the process, showing the ways it can help you recover.

What is orthopedic rehabilitation?

Orthopedic rehabilitation is an umbrella term that encompasses many types of physical therapy (PT) for the musculoskeletal system. It’s used to help people recovering from surgery, illness, or injury involving joints, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, and muscles.

Common types of injuries and conditions

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Torn ACL/meniscus
  • Osteoporosis
  • Broken bones
  • Hip, knee, or shoulder replacement

What does an orthopedic therapy program look like?

Each program is tailored to a patient’s individual needs and goals. It can vary in length, frequency of visits, intensity level for exercises or activities, and your healthcare team will likely need to adapt it along the way. While each program is different, they follow a similar general path that maximizes your recovery.

First, you’ll meet with a physical therapist to assess your abilities and limitations. Many are fine starting with outpatient programs, but serious conditions or injuries may require inpatient care to start. This first visit should also include things that the patient can begin doing right away to start the healing process.


After the initial evaluation, treatment will be tracked and adjusted accordingly in future visits depending on how much progress has been made. In some cases, this may mean that you’ll be discharged from therapy fairly quickly. In other cases, it may involve returning for several more additional visits.

Upon completion of guided therapy, there is usually a transfer of care to the patient. They are responsible for completing guided exercises at home to continue strengthening, improving range of motion, and maintaining their progress.

What types of therapy to expect

In most cases, the treatment plan will include a combination of modalities such as:

  • Electrical stimulation (e-stim) devices/TENS units
  • Heat and ice therapy (thermotherapy)
  • Ultrasound treatment or therapeutic ultrasound
  • Manual therapy techniques including massage, mobilization/manipulation of soft tissues and joints exercise prescription to improve strength, range of motion, endurance, and balance education on how to prevent a recurrence.

Physical therapy

Physical therapists work with you to maximize your strength, mobility, and functional potential. They teach you how to prevent a recurrence of the injury or condition, help you understand what activities are safe for you at this point in time, and guide you through exercises to improve strength, range of motion, endurance, coordination/balance, and function.

Occupational therapy

An occupational therapist can help you to learn how to perform tasks safely without putting yourself at risk for another injury or recurrence of the condition that originally brought you into treatment. The occupational therapist also provides assistive equipment as needed (wheelchair, cane), works with a vocational counselor if necessary, and shows you any other ways in which to complete daily tasks safely and effectively.

What are the benefits?

Orthopedic rehabilitation can help you recover from an injury or health event by teaching you how to properly manage your symptoms. All in all, the benefits of orthopedic rehabilitation are manifold—helping reduce or eliminate discomfort, speed up recovery time, improve function and lead a healthier lifestyle in general. The sooner you incorporate this treatment strategy into your care plan, the more quickly you’ll be able to resume your normal activities and daily life.

Altogether, orthopedic rehabilitation is a vital component of any treatment plan for an injury. It can help you recover quickly by teaching you how to manage your symptoms and when/how to use pain medication so that it works best. The sooner you incorporate this therapy into your care, the more quickly you’ll be able to resume normal activities and daily life.

All You Need to Know About Orthopedic Rehabilitation
All You Need to Know About Orthopedic Rehabilitation


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here