What to Expect in Your First Physical Therapy Visit
What to Expect in Your First Physical Therapy Visit

The common use of certain physical therapy techniques goes back to the twentieth century, during World War I. Back then, physical therapists were trained to work with soldiers who were returning from war. In present day, physical therapists often help people who suffer from musculoskeletal problems, looking to reduce pain and regain function. Physical therapists also provide assistance for patients who may be recovering from a stroke, and need to learn how to use their limbs and walk again. Physical therapy is also commonly utilized as part of the recovery process after many types of surgery, helping strengthen the body and reduce the buildup of scar tissue.

As experts in the way the body moves, physical therapists are healthcare professionals who offer effective treatment to improve or restore mobility and relieve chronic pain, reduce the need for surgery and prescription drugs, allowing patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs.  A customized physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning, and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that can help prevent further injury and improve overall health and well-being.

During your first physical therapy appointment, your therapist will evaluate you and then provide you the necessary treatment. Your PT will advise you on how to perform exercises both in office or at home, and how to best manage your symptoms that you experience. Patients are typically involved in an active exercise program at home and are educated in ways to speed recovery and prevent recurrence of the problem.

Depending on your injuries and the evaluation, treatment may consist of a variety of exercise techniques and pain reducing modalities, such as ice, heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation, such as a TENS unit. Treatments in physical therapy, are designed to increase motion and strength, reduce pain, and most importantly, restore function.

Your physical therapist during your first visit will ask a lot of questions about your health, and can give you a detailed outline of your condition and what would best suit you for treatment. Most importantly, before your visit, jot down questions to ask your therapist, and remember that they are there to guide you along the way to achieve your goals.

To learn more about physical therapy and how to prepare for your first visit, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at (520) 784-6200, to request an appointment, or you can call or use our secure online appointment request form.


Physical Therapy Before and After Surgery
Physical Therapy Before and After Surgery

No athlete wants to think about what it’s like having a serious injury, let alone the potential surgery and recovery period that follows. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents and injuries are out of our control, and depending on the circumstances, they may require surgical intervention. You will most likely have many questions regarding how your injury should be treated before and after surgery. Depending on what surgery is going to be performed, physical therapy is suggested, and is actually beneficial both pre-operatively and post-operatively.

As experts in the way the body moves, physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life. The main goal of physical therapy is to restore your function and mobility, and eliminate or minimize your pain so you can get back to your active lifestyle. Physical therapy is actually a required part of the recovery process for many orthopedic injuries and surgical procedures.

A customized physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning, and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that can help prevent further injury and improve overall health and well-being. Primary care doctors often refer patients for physical therapy at the first sign of a problem, since it is considered a traditional approach to managing problems. For example, the first treatment for low back pain is often physical therapy, because the body has gotten out of shape and structure.

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who offer cost-effective treatment to improve mobility and relieve pain, reduce the need for surgery and prescription drugs, allowing patients to participate in a recovery plan designed for their specific needs. If you’re already an athlete or physically active, then you will probably be more familiar with some of the treatment plan. If you’re not regularly active, physical therapy can open the door for a more active and energetic lifestyle.

Rehabilitation prior to your surgery is important for many reasons. Physical therapy will help minimize pain, reduce swelling, and especially help with range of motion. Physical therapy after surgery will help educate the patient on how to return to the activities they once did before, but hopefully even stronger. Not doing physical therapy after surgery can cause lack of mobility, increase the buildup of scar tissue, and even have psychological effects. Having done physical therapy beforehand and after will help you immensely after surgery, and help speed up your recovery process.

To learn more about physical therapy and its importance both before and after surgery, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at (520) 784-6200 to request an appointment, or you can use our secure online appointment request form.


TMC's Tucson Orthopaedic Institute Improves Patient Outcomes with Surgical Precision
TMC's Tucson Orthopaedic Institute Improves Patient Outcomes with Surgical Precision

Source: Inside Tucson Business published on May 26, 2017

Written by Logan Burtch-Buss

Photo Credit to Eric Suhm

When Tucson resident Melissa Anderson underwent her first full knee replacement surgery in 2010, she said the painful rehabilitation process lasted three months. Roughly two months ago, Anderson received her second full knee replacement surgery, and it only took seven weeks before the 65-year-old woman was out dancing and riding a recombant bicycle with her husband, John.

Anderson’s most recent surgery took place at TMC’s Tucson Orthopaedic Institute with the use of Stryker’s Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Total Knee application. 

Typically, a knee replacement is done using manual instruments, and cutting-guides have to be placed and positioned according to a surgeon’s visual, said Dr. Russell G. Cohen, who handled Anderson’s second replacement. Traditional replacements are taught in a certain manner and guides are placed in similar fashion for all patients. 

But not every knee is the same, Cohen said, and he said one of the pitfalls of knee replacement is the recovery time because the process involves recreating “soft tissue tensioning.” By having a robot with which the patient’s anatomy is registered from a CAT scan, the physician can feel how they want the knee to end up before ever starting the procedure, rather than make the cuts and try to catch up and make everything fit just right.

By fine-tuning every procedure to the physical specifications of each patient down to the millimeter, the recovery process is expedited, and patient satisfaction is improved as a result.

“I was absolutely shocked at the difference with the difference I felt between the first one and the second one,” Anderson said. “There is a really deep knee-bone pain you get with that kind of surgery … and I didn’t have it. I was worried about doing it again because I didn’t want to spend another three months recovering, but I was released from [physical therapy] in four weeks.”

Cohen has completed several dozen Mako Total Knee surgeries, and said a great majority of those patients have left the hospital the following day, all recovering much like Anderson. In addition to the implementation of the Mako, Cohen said credit for recovery improvement must also be given to improvements to anesthesia practices and other hospital procedure. 

Though TOI has already been recognized for its excellence in orthopedic practice, constantly improving upon that level of service is of the utmost importance to TMC moving forward, said chief operations officer Karen Mlawsky.

Mlawsky added that with a “superstar” like Cohen in such an important practice such as orthopedics, in which TMC holds the majority market share, it is important to continue to support physicians and surgeons, and implementing robotics does just that.

“TMC believes that it is really important for us to partner with our physicians, and when one comes forward and says that they believe the technology is going to make an impact on our patient’s outcomes, we want to listen,” she said. “We believe that orthopedics is very important to us, we believe that robotics is very important to us, and the other side of that is our role in Tucson. We are the only community hospital and we think it is important to do things that help people stay well. This technology is about getting people well quickly and keeping a person active, that’s our mission.”

According to TMC, total knee replacements in the United States are expected to increase 673 percent by 2030, and Cohen said the success of the Mako in handling full knee (and hip) replacements bodes well for the community’s future.

“There are some things that are very much a physician or surgeon looking at and trying to create whatever they are doing in the right space or angle, and I think with imaging technology and the Mako, it can be a homerun every time instead of most of the time,” he said.

Anderson, who now considers herself an advocate for the robotic knee replacement, said the outcome from her own operation was an absolute success, and said she would work with any potential patient nervous at the prospect of going under the robotic knife.

“It’s just incredible,” she said. “I was so surprised because I was ready to do that three month thing, and not to not have to do that is such a gift. Not to have that deep knee pain, that bone pain, is amazing.”


Treating Ankle Pain without Surgery
Treating Ankle Pain without Surgery

Ankle problems are common for people who’re on their feet a lot. However, there is a fine line between tired feet and an injury, and it is important to recognize when an injury has occurred in order to avoid aggravating the problem. We experience pain for a reason, and when our body experiences pain, it is like a flashing sign to us that something is wrong, and we need to pay attention to it.

The problem is, we often try to ignore and disregard the pain, hoping it will subside with time. It is very easy to turn a minor injury into a major one by not taking proper care, especially if the fear is that surgery is the only option to get better. There are several non-surgical treatments that can treat arthritis, sprains and strains, or even a hairline fracture. These methods include:

1. Casting and braces: For ankle pain or even ankle fractures, surgery is not always the answer. Putting a cast or brace on the injury will provide support and help aid in faster healing. Especially the case with minor sprains and some hairline fractures, support and rest is often the best treatment.

2. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise are essential tools to help reduce joint pain and stiffness, build strong muscle around the joints, and increase flexibility. While losing weight may not reverse the damage that has been done to a joint, research has shown that even moderate weight loss can have a dramatic effect on the relief of joint pain.

3. Physical Therapy: The goal of physical therapy is to help a person return to daily activities as quickly as possible. Physical therapists use their knowledge of the body to help people do customized movements and exercises to relieve their chronic pain.

4. Medication and Injections: There are many medications out there that can help as an alternative to surgery. Cortisone injections are beneficial in helping reduce pain and inflammation in the targeted area.

To learn more about non-surgical methods that can help treat your ankle pain, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley office at (520) 544-9700. To request an appointment, you can call or use our secure online appointment request form.


Ankle Pain: Common Causes
Ankle Pain: Common Causes

Did you know that your ankle is a synovial hinge joint made up of three bones? It is actually much more complex than you might guess, with a total of 28 bones and 25 joints in the foot and ankle, creating a very stable and powerful platform that allows your ankle to move only slightly from side to side, yet still flex up and down in order to stand, walk, jump and run. Your ankle also has a complex array of connective and soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels, all combined in one neat little compartment. Because of the massive stress and weight that the ankle regularly carries, it is vulnerable to injury and other conditions. Below are some common causes of ankle pain.

Common Causes of Ankle Pain

Ankle pain can be caused by a variety of conditions or injuries. Some of the most common include:

Achilles tendonitis - This is often caused by overuse. The Achilles tendon is a strong band of connective tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone of the foot. Achilles tendons can rupture, especially if they are already inflamed and irritated.

Sprained ankle - Sometimes caused by a roll or twisting that stretches or even tears the strong connective tissues that anchor the bones and muscles. If you think of a rubber band being pulled too far, you can imagine what happens when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal stable points. Some sprains are mild, others require surgical intervention or other medical care, such as bracing.

Broken ankle or foot - Bones of the ankle tend to be very strong, however they are not immune to fractures from repeated stress or a sudden (acute) injury. You can break an ankle simply by stepping off a curb the wrong way, making a sudden change of direction while running during a sports event, or being involved in an accident of some kind. The bones in the feet can become fractured in many different ways, from awkward landings to dropping heavy objects on them. The treatment required will depend on the exact location of the break and the severity.

Gout - The pain of gout can be so severe that it becomes debilitating. Gout is a complex form of arthritis that causes swelling, pain, redness and tenderness in the affected joint, caused by the formation of tiny uric acid crystals within the joint. Patients with gout can be treated with medications and dietary changes to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.

Other common causes of ankle pain include:  plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the connective tissues of the foot), arthritis (rheumatoid, psoriatic, or osteoarthritis), pseudogout, stress fractures, bursitis, and septic arthritis. Depending on the underlying cause and severity, an ankle condition may require surgery or even a total ankle replacement.

If you or a loved one has ankle pain, or you would like to know more about our advanced ankle care, or to schedule an appointment at any of our offices, please call us in East Tucson at (520) 784-6200Northwest Tucson at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley at (520) 544-9700, or request an appointment online.


The Differences Between a Physiatrist and a Physical Therapist
The Differences Between a Physiatrist and a Physical Therapist

The road to recovery from an illness or injury often involves pain or disability, and help from a team of highly trained professionals is usually necessary. Two key players on this team are the physiatrist and the physical therapist. While their names sound similar, they have two very distinct roles.

A physiatrist is a physician who is trained in the diagnosis, treatment and management of debilitating conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Some of the illnesses and conditions that they are experts in are spine problems, chronic pain, sports injuries, brain and spinal cord injuries, arthritis, work injuries and fibromyalgia. Otherwise known as physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, their focus is to improve function and minimize pain.

Along with consulting with other physicians, a physiatrist leads a team of healthcare professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dieticians, and nurses, to help patients adapt to limitations and regain as much function as possible.  In this role, they may prescribe exercise, prosthetics (artificial limbs), orthotics (inserts or braces), and other equipment that help patients complete their daily tasks and live independently. They do not perform surgery, but they do perform procedures that either help in the diagnosis or the treatment of illness or injury.

Some common procedures include EMG (electromyography) to identify the source of muscle weakness, nerve conduction studies to identify nerve damage, peripheral joint injections to diagnose and treat joint disorders, trigger point injections or spinal injections for pain control, and a number of image-guided spinal procedures to reduce back pain. They also specialize in treating spasticity from neurological injuries related to illnesses such as stroke or cerebral palsy.

A physical therapist is a highly-skilled and educated, licensed health care professional that works directly with patients who are experiencing pain or debility from an illness or injury. After a thorough evaluation, they develop individual plans of care that will help patients regain as much function as possible, minimize pain, and prevent future injuries and disability. These plans may include exercise, manual therapy and manipulation, mechanical traction, education, heat or cold therapy, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and teaching patients to work with assistive devices such as walkers or canes and artificial limbs.

They not only physically provide treatments and assist patients in performing exercises, but also teach them how to continue exercising after their treatment is complete, to stay healthy and prevent future injury. They work with patients who have experienced a wide range of illnesses and injuries, but their goal is always to help the patient live as independent and pain-free as possible. Examples of patients who will benefit from physical therapy are those who have experienced fractures or orthopedic surgery, strokes, sports injuries, accidents, neurological injuries or illnesses, pain from arthritis, and back injuries.

Patients who have experienced a long-term illness and may have grown weak also benefit from physical therapy to improve strength, balance, and endurance. Physical therapy is a proven way to decrease disability and pain, and to improve long-term health after an illness or injury.

To learn more about the services offered by both physiatrists and physical therapists, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley office at (520) 544-9700. To request an appointment, you can call or use our secure online appointment request form.


Is Your Pain Stemming from Arthritis?
Is Your Pain Stemming from Arthritis?

Though pain is never pleasant, it’s an important signal our bodies use to warn there’s something wrong. Usually, what’s wrong is that you have an injury of some kind, or in some cases your body can even be misfiring pain signals.

When you have an injury – in the case of arthritis, an injury to your joints – the damaged tissues release chemicals that alert nearby sensory nerves. These nerves carry the message up your spinal cord to your brain. Your brain processes the message and sends a signal to your motor nerves to take action.

So how do you know if your symptoms are caused by arthritis or something else? While joint pain and stiffness are the most common terms used to describe arthritis, the warning signs are quite specific. Here's what you need to know to get the right diagnosis, and the best treatment.

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain and tenderness
  • Inflammation in and around the joints
  • Restricted movement of the joints
  • Warm, red skin over the affected joint

Technically, pain is considered chronic when it lasts three to six months or longer, but arthritis pain can last a lifetime. The symptoms of arthritis depend on the type that you have and the location. While there are multiple types of arthritis, the two main types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, which often gets worse with age and is caused by wear and tear. This type of arthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness. Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and the formation of bony spurs, called osteophytes. Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone, altering the shape of the joint and forcing the bones out of their normal position.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body's immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling. The outer covering of the joint called the synovium is the first place that becomes affected. This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint's shape, and may cause the bone and cartilage to break down. Unfortunately, people with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body.

Tips for relief from the painful symptoms of arthritis:

1. Exercise: Light to moderate physical activity is often one of the best things for the body. Remember to stay hydrated and don’t overdo it. You can often get a specific exercise plan catered to your specific needs or condition, made up by your healthcare professional.

2. Use hot and cold therapy: This often depends on the type of tightness or swelling involved, but it’s best to speak to a doctor or physical therapist about the proper ice or heat therapy to stick to.

3. Eat a healthy diet: Believe it or not, there is a whole list of different types of food that are known to either cause or reduce inflammation in the body.

4. Manage your weight: Simply put, the less weight and pressure put onto bones and joints, the better.

If you're living with chronic pain due to arthritis, it may be time to take a closer look at your symptoms and explore treatment options. For more information about arthritis and other painful joint conditions, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley office at (520) 544-9700. To request an appointment, you can call or use our secure online appointment request form.


The Cost of Being Connected: Hand Pain
The Cost of Being Connected: Hand Pain

The odds are high that you, like most everybody, has had a minor problem with a finger, hand, or wrist. The truth is, while the pain may be local to one area, they are all connected and rely upon one another for proper functioning. The hands and wrists are so commonly utilized every day, as our main tools and our first line of defense, so they are subject to a variety of problems. Some problems are the result of how you use your hands in everyday activities – for example, sprains and strains as well as fractures can occur with lifting and carrying heavy objects, operating machinery, bracing against a fall, or sports-related injuries.

If you've ever awakened with numb hands, had your finger lock while filling out a crossword puzzle, or tried in vain to open a jar, you know what it's like to have your hands fail you. Hand pain can be caused by disease or injury affecting any of the structures in the hand, including the bones, muscles, joints, tendons, blood vessels, or connective tissues.

Hand pain and stiffness, often tolerated without medical attention, can be successfully treated. You don't have to accept discomfort and disability as a consequence of aging. Fortunately, there are a host of treatments that can alleviate pain and improve function with minimal recovery time. Conditions that affect the hand and wrist include:

  • Sprains and Strains
  • Ligamentous Injuries
  • Fractures
  • Repetitive Trauma Syndrome
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid
  • Ganglion Cyst
  • Trigger Finger
  • Any problem that causes pain, swelling, discoloration, numbness or a tingling sensation, or abnormal contour of the hand or wrist that persists for more than two or three days should be evaluated by your doctor as early as possible, to establish the cause and obtain the best treatment.
To learn more about hand pain, and how to treat it call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley office at (520) 544-9700. To request an appointment, you can call or use our secure online appointment request form

Don't Be Scared of Physical Therapy Equipment
Don't Be Scared of Physical Therapy Equipment

The main goal of physical therapy is to restore your function and mobility, and eliminate or minimize your pain so you can get back to your normally active lifestyle. In fact, as experts in the way the body moves, physical therapists help people of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life. While some people might that the tasks are daunting, or the equipment difficult to use, the overwhelmingly positive results for patient recovery should soften any fears about physical therapy.

A customized physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning, and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that can help prevent further injury, and improve overall health and well-being. Primary care doctors often refer patients for physical therapy at the first sign of a problem, since it is considered a traditional and non-invasive approach to managing problems.

Most physical therapy uses a combination of techniques to relieve pain and boost coordination, strength, endurance, flexibility, and range of motion. Physical therapists (PTs) often ask patients to use exercise equipment like bikes and treadmills. However, other equipment like using resistance bands, medicine balls, and foam rollers can be confusing if someone doesn’t instruct you on what they are and how to use them. Here is a guide on physical therapy equipment, and why it is not scary once you know how to use it.

1. Medicine Ball: The importance of a medicine ball is that it helps with strength, coordination, and balance. The medicine ball comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and weights. It is beneficial to start with the lightest and move up in weight as you get the hang of it while doing your exercises.

2. Foam Roller: In physical therapy, foam rollers are a crucial part in relieving tension and pain. If you have sore muscles, the foam roller gets out all the tension. The foam roller comes in different sizes and colors. Most importantly, it’s important to understand that foam rolling is uncomfortable at first, essentially due to getting knots out of your body. Listen to your body, and know your limits.

3. Resistance bands: Resistance bands are lightweight and can be taken anywhere. During physical therapy, resistance bands vary in tension, color, and thickness. Whatever style and color you use in physical therapy should be the one to use at home, if instructed.

Always consult your physical therapist at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute on how to use your new equipment before using it yourself. Exercising freely whenever you want in your home can be tantalizing, but exercising improperly could set you back weeks on your path to recovery. Mastering these tools will accelerate your recovery and get you back to your old self.

To learn more about physical therapy and the equipment used, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley office at (520) 544-9700. To request an appointment, you can call or use our secure online appointment request form.

 

 


The Benefits of Coordinated Care & Physical Therapy
The Benefits of Coordinated Care & Physical Therapy

"Coordinated care" means that all healthcare professionals work together to help make sure patients get the right care at the right time. Coordinated care aims to make sure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. You'll benefit when your doctor, health care provider, or hospital coordinate your care, working together to give you the right care at the right time in the right setting.

Rehabilitation is an important process after surgery or injury that involves many different healthcare professionals. Of course, the main purpose of a rehabilitation center is to prepare patients to return home. Physical and occupational therapists work together in this effort. As part of this process, the nursing staff also coordinates the details of planning services and patient care.

When everyone works together to coordinate a patient's care, the result can be happier, healthier patients, faster recovery by those who are ill or hospitalized, and improved quality of life for those with serious and chronic conditions.

Benefits of Coordinated Care

·       Develop a plan to help achieve personal health goals

·       Family support and knowledge growth through individual visits and group seminars

·       Coordination of complex health care needs

·       Increased access to information related to medication, procedures, and diagnoses

Physical therapy has the potential to help restore independence to a homebound patient. Therapy emphasizes addressing mobility tasks and deficits in the skills that a patient has difficulty with or cannot perform without assistance. Through the incorporation of therapeutic exercise and functional training, patients will experience improvements with pain, range of motion, strength, endurance, balance, and mobility.

To learn more about coordinated care and physical therapy, call Tucson Orthopaedic Institute at our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200, or our Northwest Tucson office at (520) 382-8200.


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Tucson Orthopaedic Institute - East Office
5301 E. Grant Road
Tucson, Arizona 85712
Phone: (520) 784-6200
Fax: (520) 784-6187
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm
Tucson Orthopaedic Institute - Northwest Office
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Tucson, Arizona 85741
Phone: (520) 382-8200
Fax: (520) 297-3505
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Phone: (520) 544-9700
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