Types of Nonoperative Orthopedics

Nonoperative Orthopedics is the preferred method of treating most orthopedic injuries. An orthopedic injury involves damage to bone, muscle, tendon, or ligament. When an injury occurs, our bodies treat it with inflammation which causes swelling and pain. These are important for stopping us from using the injured area and allowing us to heal. After this has taken place, the next step is typically immobilization. This process aims to allow the body’s natural healing ability to take over and create a functional injury that is pain-free. However, there are many instances where we want to avoid the immobilization of an area to prevent further damage.

Upper Extremity Specialists can analyze your situation to determine whether or not you need nonoperative orthopedic procedures. Below are some common examples.

  • Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is the treatment of pain or injury by applying exercises and stretches. Physical therapists are experts in musculoskeletal health who can prescribe specific therapies for damages depending on their location, severity, and cause. Common treatments include therapeutic modalities such as heat/ice, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, massage, bracing/taping/splinting, Kinesio taping, and exercise.

Physical therapists are the key to helping you return to daily activities safely by improving strength, endurance, range of motion, flexibility, coordination, balance, and gait. Restoring these things assists in reducing your chance for re-injury or flare-ups that may occur in the future.

  • Injections

There are many different injection types, including cortisone, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and viscosity modifiers. Each one is used for a specific reason depending on an individual’s injury. An injection can act as an analgesic to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain or control inflammation by decreasing blood flow in an area.

As with any medical treatment, there are risks involved when receiving an injection. Pain during or after the infusion is joint in some patients, while others may have no side effects. Studies show that cortisone injections provide more relief initially but fail to maintain their effectiveness over time. PRP stimulates your body’s natural healing process, which can effectively regenerate tissue.

Also, injections are typically used before physical therapy for pain control. This allows patients to begin their rehabilitation exercises sooner rather than later, which enhances overall recovery times.

  • Soundwave Therapy

Soundwave therapy, or ESWT, uses sound energy to generate vibrations in water at specific frequencies. The waves are transferred from the machine through cans placed on your skin which sends an acoustic pulse to damaged tissue when they collide with each other after bouncing off the body’s internal fluids and bone. This stimulates healing and treats inflammation while regenerating new cells to strengthen tendons and ligaments.

In many cases, high-intensity soundwave therapy can be used as a primary treatment for injuries such as tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, golfer’s elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and achilles tendonitis. However, it is also ideal for treating patients with chronic injuries who struggle to return to regular activities.

Although the research is still emerging, results show that soundwave therapy works best for mid-range injuries involved in chronic tendinosis or inflammation. It allows physicians to target specific areas, which speeds up recovery time by 10%.

In summary, nonoperative orthopedics refers to orthopedic procedures that do not involve surgery. It involves procedures and treatments such as physical therapy, soundwave therapy, and injections.


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