Make Physical Therapy a Stop on Your Road to Recovery
By George Nevin
Help for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Injuries
Any doctor will tell you that regaining mobility following orthopedic surgery relies not only on a successful surgery, but also physical therapy to get past postsurgical pain so you can regain strength and flexibility.
“For a successful rehabilitation, you have to look at the whole picture and go beyond just the body part that has undergone surgery,” says Jennifer Lehr, P.T., manager of Physical Therapy and Sports Fitness at Sutter Terra Linda Health Plaza in San Rafael. “By the time someone has undergone knee replacement, it is not unusual to also suffer from back pain as a result of favoring the knee.”
Injury Prevention Tips
While many orthopedic problems develop from a traumatic injury, others develop over time through repetitive movements and poor training technique. “We often see patients who have muscle imbalances (especially around the shoulder) which are a result of an incomplete exercise program topped with a sport which entails frequent, repetitive movements,” explains Jennifer.
Ultimately, this combined issue puts the joint and its associated muscles and ligaments in positions of impingement. Left unchecked, this condition is ripe for a tendon strain or possible tear. “Keeping the muscles
strong which attach the shoulder blade to the spine is key in helping to balance out the shoulder alignment. Good posture goes a long way,” she says.
Technology Can Pinpoint Problems
New technology complements the care and expertise that physical therapists offer. For example, they use video analysis before and after surgery to help individuals understand and improve their gait.
Other technology can uncover muscle strength imbalance. “When I recently treated a triathlete with a rotator cuff tear, I used a computer-aided muscle testing device that helped determine some of her shoulder muscles were weaker than they should be, creating an imbalance that put her at risk of further injury,” says Jennifer. “Consequently, we adjusted her exercise program to strengthen the weaker muscles. But without the technology, we would only have been guessing about the problem and the proper solution.”
To make an appointment or find out more information in San Francisco, visit cpmc.org/services/outpatientrehab.
Call 415-600-2700 to make an appointment.