How Orthopedists Use Imaging For Your Care
How Orthopedists Use Imaging For Your Care

The word “imaging” in the medical world, refers to the use of various forms of technology to provide a diagnostic look at different structures and processes in the body. Orthopedists use imaging to determine if an injury or condition has caused harm to the musculoskeletal system, including the muscles, bones, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and even nerves. The two most common types of diagnostic imaging tests are X-rays and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). However, there are many other types of scans that can be used for diagnosing and even helping treat certain orthopedic conditions.

If you are experiencing an injury or condition affecting your musculoskeletal system, medications and physical therapy are usually the first methods of treatment that your orthopedist likes to use. If these treatments are not enough or are not effective in relieving your pain, surgery can help. However, before making an accurate diagnosis and choosing a treatment, orthopedists use diagnostic imaging as a means to get a closer inside look at the inside of the body. For example, imaging can be done of a specific joint to see if a condition such as arthritis may be causing severe chronic pain, and whether any abnormal structural changes are present.

At Tucson Orthopedic Institute, we have state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging equipment and technology to help our orthopedic doctors accurately identify, diagnose, and treat patients suffering from various musculoskeletal problems. Imaging is beneficial, because, when an orthopedist sees the results from the imaging test, this helps them be able to give a patient a diagnosis as early as possible, which helps avoid further complications from developing. 

The common types of imaging we use include:

  • Digital X-rays: Helps identify pain, fractures, and joint issues
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • CT Scan: A CT will create a 3D image of the bones and soft tissues
  •  Bone Density Scan: This lets doctors get a closer look at the inside of people’s bones. It is mostly used to diagnose people with conditions such as osteoporosis.

Have any other questions about how we use diagnostic imaging tests, or need to schedule an imaging test? Call our East Tucson office at (520) 784-6200 to get started.



Popular Physical Therapy Methods
Popular Physical Therapy Methods

Whether it’s a short-lived pain from a sporting injury or long-term pain from conditions like arthritis, pain can be difficult to live with and manage. From helping arthritic pain and bursitis, to the recovery from broken and fractured bones, and sprains and strains, physical therapists are highly educated healthcare experts in the movement and function of the human body, called kinesiology. 

Physical therapists have a special aptitude for assessing the human body and helping restore it back to optimal performance after injury or surgery. Many people experience pain at some point in their lives, whether it is acute or chronic. Physical therapy has been known to improve function for patients experiencing hip, knee, shoulder, and lower back pain. It may also be an effective method in reducing pain for patients with conditions such as tendonitis.

Armed with cutting edge equipment and a huge background of knowledge, PTs can help diagnose and treat many common conditions and disorders affecting movement and function, which often disrupts and affects someone’s ability to live their life normally. Often, doctors turn to physical therapy methods to try and relieve pain and restore function, before turning to surgery as a last resort.

Therefore, armed with cutting edge equipment and a huge background of knowledge, physical therapists can help diagnose and effectively treat many common problems, and most importantly improve or restore mobility, relieve pain, and reduce the need for surgery and prescription drugs.

Physical therapy is an essential part of total patient care, especially when recovering from injury or surgery. Having a good quality of life depends on our health, and if people are in constant pain and suffering, life can be difficult to navigate. That’s why physical therapists can make all the different in your treatment and recovery process. Attitude and motivation are two important psychological factors that often affect the outcome of a situation. PT’s are trained to encourage their patients, helping them reach their goals, whether they are long-term or short-term.

Physical therapist’s work with their patients on a one-on-one basis, track their progress through treatment, and really make a difference in their lives, by getting them back on their feet, and lifting their spirits, encouraging the patient to keep moving forward. Whether the patient's problem is a result of injury or disease, the physical therapist is a rehabilitation specialist with one goal in mind: helping patient’s recover by restoring optimal function and mobility, and preventing further disability.

Your PT will complete a full evaluation before making an accurate diagnosis.

Therapeutic exercise and functional training are the cornerstones of a physical therapy treatment plan. Depending on the particular needs of a patient, in order to promote proper movement and function, physical therapists will work with individuals to prevent loss of mobility by developing fitness and wellness oriented programs, for healthier and more active lifestyles.

Popular physical therapy methods include:

  • Ice and heat therapy: Ice is best for swelling and inflammation, while heat is best for muscle spasms and tightness
  • Laser therapy: Uses wavelengths of light to stimulate healing 
  • Exercises: Exercise is a main go-to strategy to treat and prevent pain. These aren’t just exercises like you do at the gym, PT exercises are specially chosen and specifically tailored to help treat the patient’s specific problem. These exercise techniques are hand-picked to help patients move better by strengthening certain muscles, and addressing any imbalances that may exist.

To learn more about the popular physical therapy methods, call us in East Tucson at (520) 784-6200, Northwest Tucson at (520) 382-8200, or Oro Valley at (520) 544-9700, or request an appointment online.

Why Choose to go to a Pediatric Orthopedist
Why Choose to go to a Pediatric Orthopedist

As a parent, the chances are high that your children may hurt themselves while playing sports, or from a fall, at some point. It’s not fun to think about, but broken bones, sprains, or tendon injuries can happen at any time. Every fracture has the potential to cause problems for your child’s future growth, if not properly cared for. That’s why choosing the right provider in the event of a musculoskeletal injury is so important.

A pediatric orthopedist is trained to look for cues that can help provide information about the location and extent of an injury, that a child may not be capable of sharing. This specialty provides advanced training to address the unique needs and surgical care necessary to treat pediatric patients, taking into consideration the growth and development of the child. Experience treating children’s injuries and congenital conditions prepares a pediatric orthopedist with the background to recognize conditions and save valuable time when determining a diagnosis.

Specialized training in pediatric orthopedics includes learning how to put a child at ease, and not to appear frightening in an otherwise scary situation. Many diagnostic tests require the patient to cooperate, including holding still, not talking, and sometimes drinking a contrast liquid. Understanding that a child is not a miniature adult can make a difference in getting a prompt, accurate diagnosis, so that the right treatment plan can be implemented as quickly as possible.

In addition to injuries, a pediatric orthopedist may treat congenital disorders such as clubfoot, gait problems caused by differing leg lengths, scoliosis, spina bifida, and other disorders of the skeletal system.

If your child has an injury that you suspect may be a fracture, contact a pediatric orthopedist for the best possible care. Tucson Orthopedics in southern Arizona features Ortho Fast Track to serve patients with broken bones within a few days of the injury. Same day appointments are available with a physician referral. Our conveniently located facilities have the latest in diagnostic equipment to save valuable time. Trust Tucson Orthopedics to provide the best care for your child. Call with your questions or to schedule an appointment.

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder for which there is no cure. RA causes painful, swollen joints, and can lead to permanent deformity and loss of joint movement if not treated in time.

However, early detection and treatment can slow or even prevent the progression of this disease. The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis may involve trying several strategies, and can change over the course of the disease.

Treatment focuses on reducing or eliminating inflammation. There are several types of drugs that have been shown to be effective. Because of the possible side effects of some drugs, doctors recommend more conservative treatments and shorter courses of drug treatments. Since rheumatoid arthritis is a life-long condition, treatment needs to be appropriate for the long haul.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly recommended to alleviate symptoms of RA, and are available over the counter or by prescription.

Steroids can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, but can cause serious side effects such as cataracts, elevated blood sugar levels, osteoporosis, and others. Although extremely effective, steroids are usually used as a short-term treatment to get symptoms under control.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are an extremely effective class of medication that halt inflammation. Some have an inadvertent weakening effect on the immune system, but there are new drugs being developed that act with precision on RA-affected joints.

Physical therapy can help patients at any stage in RA. Exercises can help maintain range of motion and alleviate needless stress on the joints by learning new ways to accomplish tasks. Surgery to remove affected tissue or to replace joints such as the knee of hip may sometimes be indicated if the joint is severely damaged. And last but not least, certain diet and lifestyle choices can have a profound effect on treating the symptoms of RA.

Tucson Orthopaedic Institute’s orthopedic physicians are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of joint damage. They work with our own certified physical therapists to help patients keep moving with as little pain as possible. Expert care is available to all our patients. Contact one of our convenient locations in the Tucson, Arizona area for an appointment today, or request an appointment online


Causes of Low Back Pain
Causes of Low Back Pain

Low back pain is something that most people experience at some time in their lives. From herniated discs to pulled muscles or pinched nerves, there are many possible sources and types of lower back pain. Most of the time, low back pain can be traced to one of a few causes.

Your lower back must bear the weight of your upper body all of the hours you spend upright, not to mention the stress it endures while sleeping or sitting in certain positions. Over the years, bad habits like poor posture and too much time sitting at a desk can contribute to pressure that builds between the vertebrae.

The discs between vertebrae are meant to act as shock absorbers. They are made of tough but spongy cartilage, that will often wear down or become compressed as you get older. Arthritis is the result of the bones in your spine making contact, and painfully rubbing together.

Consistent pressure or a traumatic injury can cause a disc to bulge in the middle, called a herniated disc. Your spine is constructed to protect the nerves within it, but herniated discs can cause intense, shooting pain when nerves are pinched.

In everyday life, muscles in your lower back can be strained or pulled from activity. Lifting heavy things during a move, shoveling snow, bending with your back instead of your knees – these can all cause the soreness we’re all familiar with. However, while low back pain is a common complaint for many people, it is something that can be remedied by taking the proper steps.

In some cases, back pain goes away on its own with a little rest. Muscles heal, and even nerve pain is usually intermittent. But when the pain lasts for several weeks or longer, the frustration of chronic back pain sets in. Exercises learned in physical therapy can often help relieve or eliminate chronic back pain, as the muscles surrounding the affected area are strengthened. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to correct back pain.

If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, the orthopedic physicians and physical therapists at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute can help. With expert diagnostic capabilities and experience with the full range of possible back ailments, our spine specialists will help determine the best treatment for your condition. Treatment could be as simple as making minor adjustments to posture, changing sleep position, and a little massage or physical therapy. There are plenty of treatment options available, so you shouldn’t feel resigned to having to choose between pain medication or a surgical procedure. Contact one of our convenient locations in the Tucson, Arizona area for an appointment today, or request one online.

The Training Required for a Physical Therapist
The Training Required for a Physical Therapist

Physical Therapists (PT) help people regain strength and movement and alleviate pain, often through modalities such as stretching and exercise. A rehabilitation plan following an injury or to correct an orthopedic condition often includes physical therapy as an important part of the treatment and/or recovery process. Licensed Physical Therapists are highly-trained professionals with many years of study and experience to understand how the body moves and works, to help people feel better and live better lives.

Physical therapists are required to have a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). DPT degrees usually take about three years to complete.

Acceptance into a DPT program requires a bachelor’s degree and relevant coursework, which may include anatomy, biology, physics, and chemistry. The DPT program includes study in the areas of physiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, biomechanics and psychology. The degree requires 30 weeks of clinical experience under the supervision of licensed PTs.

Following graduation as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, PTs complete a one-year residency for additional experience in various areas of care, such as for acute injuries like bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, as well as for conditions usually affecting older patients, such as arthritis. PTs also help people with genetic disorders affecting movement. Fellowships are available to further specialize a physical therapist’s area of expertise following his or her residency. DPTs can be board-certified by The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Licensing of physical therapists is administered at the state level, and requirements vary by state. However, every state requires that PTs pass the National Physical Therapy Examination. This extensive training and licensing program prepares a physical therapist to be an integral member of a patient’s healthcare team during recovery from an injury or illness.

Physical therapists at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute work directly with physicians to develop a treatment plan that is customized for each patient to maximize therapeutic benefit and produce the best possible outcome. Our physical therapists are an integral part of the practice, and orthopedic treatments often cannot be fully realized without their expertise. Contact one of our fully equipped and state-of-the-art Tucson physical therapy centers today for a consultation. You can also request an appointment online right now.

What is Neuropathy?
What is Neuropathy?

When the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the rest of your body become damaged or disrupted from carrying signals, it can result in a group of symtoms called peripheral neuropathy (or just neuropathy). It’s not an uncommon condition, with an estimated 2-3% of the population affected.

 The nervous system brings information to and from your brain. When the nerves are affected by an injury, infection, autoimmune condition or something that blocks or puts pressure on them, they can’t properly conduct sensory information.

 Some symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Numbness, especially in the hands or feet
  • Tingling or prickling sensation
  • Sharp or jabbing pain, as if from a knife
  • Burning feeling, similar to sunburn without the heat
  • Freezing sensation
  • Ultra-sensitive to touch
  • Lack of balance or coordination

 Diabetes is a major cause of neuropathy, especially in the feet. Increasing circulation through exercise can help relieve or prevent symptoms. Decreased or lack of feeling in the feet and toes can lead to life-threatening infections or amputation. For those diagnosed with diabetes, the importance of monitoring foot health cannot be overstated enough.

 When peripheral neuropathy causes muscle weakness or instability, physical therapy can help strengthen these muscles or the surrounding area, to ease pain and increase mobility. Your doctor can monitor your progress and make recommendations for alterations in a physical therapy plan that best addresses your needs.

 Making lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, may address the underlying cause of neuropathy to relieve or eliminate symptoms. The nervous system in your body is both intricate and complex, and may be affected by multiple influences, both environmental and genetic. Developing a treatment plan with your doctor is the first step to recovery.

 The orthopedic physicians at Tucson Orthopaedic Institute are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the nerves, including neuropathy. They work together with our physical therapists to ensure each patient has the best possible treatment outcome.  If you have nerve pain or other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, contact one of our convenient locations in the Tucson, Arizona area for an appointment today, or request an appointment online.

The Importance of Proper Imaging for Diagnoses
The Importance of Proper Imaging for Diagnoses

The New England Journal of Medicine cited medical imaging as one of the top advances in medicine in the past 1,000 years. There is no equivalent tool available for seeing inside the human body, without actually cutting it open.

Diagnosing orthopedic conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system was revolutionized by medical imaging. Orthopaedic surgeons may be incredibly skilled and experienced with diagnosing conditions based on the symptoms of the patient and external appearance or other cues, however, imaging allows your doctor to see inside your skin, viewing details on the extent and position of an injury or condition. There was a time when exploratory surgery was a routine part of diagnosing certain conditions, and this is thankfully no longer necessary in almost all cases due to diagnostic imaging.

There are several common types of imaging that your doctor may recommend, depending on the location and nature of your complaint:

·        Digital X-rays – often the first and only tool needed, useful in diagnosing fractures and dislocations

·        Computerized Tomography (CT scans) – a series of X-rays that gives a more detailed picture

·        Ultrasound – provides real-time accurate images without radiation          

·        Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – especially helpful for diagnosing torn ligaments 

In addition to providing invaluable visual information that helps determine a diagnosis, imaging will show when an injury or condition has healed. It will also indicate whether a treatment has been effective in promoting healing, or if some adjustment in medication or other treatment needs to be made. Not only can diagnostic imaging help orthopedic surgeons give an accurate diagnosis, it can also be utilized to see the progress a patient is having during and after treatment.

Thanks to the use of proper imaging, surgical procedures needed to correct a condition are less invasive or may be avoided all together. Tucson Orthopaedic Institute offers onsite medical imaging using the most advanced technology available. Our patients save valuable time and get diagnosed quickly and accurately, so that treatment can begin without delay. Call one of our conveniently located facilities today for an appointment in the Tucson, Arizona area. 

Find the Tucson Orthopaedic Institute location nearest to you, or request an appointment online right now.

Physical Therapy vs. Surgery
Physical Therapy vs. Surgery

There are different types of injuries and conditions that affect muscles, bones, tendons, and the way they connect in your body. These are orthopedic conditions or injuries, and they can be acute, like a sports injury or accident; or chronic, like arthritis. Virtually any injury to muscles or tendons can benefit from physical therapy. And in many cases, your orthopedic physician will recommend a conservative course of treatment that focuses on physical therapy, long before surgery is even brought to the discussion.


When you begin a treatment plan, your physician will provide details of your health history and condition to your physical therapist. They will develop a plan that may include manual (hands-on) therapy, modalities, and a custom exercise plan. You will have checkups with your physician to evaluate your progress and determine if there needs to be an adjustment to your treatment plan.


Studies have shown that patients who had physical therapy vs. surgery for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee combined with a torn meniscus showed favorable results. The same result was found for patients suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis. Surgery can result in serious complications, and usually requires downtime for healing. The decision to undergo a surgical procedure should never be taken lightly, however in some cases surgery may be the only good option left.


At Tucson Orthopaedic Institute, our orthopedic surgeons always explore conservative treatment options before recommending surgery to treat an injury or chronic condition. We have several physical therapy facilities in the Tucson, Arizona area with experienced and caring certified physical therapists. If you need care for an orthopedic injury or condition, contact one of our fully equipped and state-of-the-art Tucson physical therapy centers today for a consultation. We are experts in treating sports injuries, injuries from auto accidents, chronic conditions, and more. Call today, or request an appointment online.



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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
6320 N. La Cholla Blvd., Suite 200
Tucson, Arizona 85741
Phone: (520) 382-8200
Fax: (520) 297-3505
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm
Tucson Orthopaedic Institute - Oro Valley Office
1521 E. Tangerine Road, Suite 101
Oro Valley, Arizona 85755
Phone: (520) 544-9700
Fax: (520) 618-6060
Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm