Have you ever injured yourself playing your favorite sport and felt like you were never going to be able to live without pain again? Or maybe you thought that because of a nagging injury you would never be able to get back to playing the sport you love.
If either of these cases sound like you, know that you can return to pain-free living and even get back to feeling like your competitive self out on the field if you seek out the proper care.
Let’s dive into the difference between an orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist, so you can understand how each comes into play to promote optimal recovery after your sports injury.
The Role of Your Orthopedic Surgeon
The orthopedic surgeon’s primary role is to operate on tissues when there has been a complete tear or anatomical break down that is not likely to heal on its own with conservative treatment. Because their job is to open people up and “fix” broken parts, orthopedic surgeons will often lean towards surgery. There is nothing wrong with surgery and in some cases, it is necessary. But it’s important to understand that for certain sports related injuries, surgery is not necessary.
And while the orthopedic surgeon may play a big role in initiating your recovery, if you have sustained a major injury, their role outside of the operating room is limited. If you did nothing to restore the mechanics to the area or determine what caused the injury in the first place, you are setting yourself up to get re-injured.
The Role of Your Physical Therapist
Your physical therapist is there to walk alongside you to make your transition from the operating room back to the field as smooth as possible. And your physical therapist can help you determine if surgery is even needed in the first place!
Your physical therapist not only evaluates the injured tissue itself, but they also examine the entire movement chain to make sure there are no hidden deficits that led to your injury. When it comes to knee rehabilitation, this could look like checking to make sure there are no limitations at your hips or ankles that could have caused the injury at your knee to occur.
Your physical therapist is also an expert in understanding the biomechanics and demands of your sports. This knowledge allows them to make sure that they allow adequate tissue healing in the injured area while still stressing the tissue in a way that makes it stronger and allows you to return to your sport without limitations.
What It Takes to Fully Recover
It’s common to seek out care from an orthopedic surgeon after a sports-related injury. While the orthopedic surgeon may play a role in your rehab journey, it’s important to understand that your physical therapist is the healthcare provider who will facilitate your full recovery and assure you achieve all your personal goals.
It’s not enough to just get a tissue “repaired” anatomically. You have to train that tissue to be able to withstand the forces of running, pivoting, jumping, cutting, and so much more if you want to get back in the game. And while the orthopedic surgeon is excellent at repairing the anatomical tissues, their skillset doesn’t translate that repairing tissue so that it won’t get re-injured out on the field.
Your physical therapist is the one who will take the time to teach you step-by-step what you need to do to recover and make your body stronger against future sports related injuries. Because at the end of the day, it is your physical therapist’s goal to get you playing the sport you love and minimize your risk for ending up back on the operating table.
Find the Care You Need
Your orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist should be working as a team to make sure you get the care you need. If you recently had surgery or have a nagging pain from a past sports injury, it’s time to take back control of your body and get you back to playing at your best. Come in for an evaluation with one of our skilled physical therapists today at James Fowler Physical Therapy so we can guide you along your recovery and help you return safely to the sport you love!