Orthopedic physical therapy focuses on correcting problems with the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, the joints which join them, and the tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues that enable the body to painlessly exhibit its natural range of motion. In essence, orthopedic therapy’s goal is to restore the skeleton’s full functionality.

Orthopedic therapy is frequently prescribed to help a patient who is preparing for surgery, as well as accelerate their recovery following surgery. However, orthopedic therapy still offers significant benefits to those who aren’t pursuing surgery as a treatment option for their physical injuries. If you have recently suffered an injury, orthopedic therapy can:

  • Reduce aches and alleviate pain

  • Restore normal muscle functionality

  • Improve joint mobility and balance

  • Decrease the likelihood of sustaining the same injury again

  • Prevent dependence on potentially addictive painkillers

  • Preempt the need for surgery altogether

Its myriad benefits make orthopedic therapy a popular primary and supplemental treatment for a wide range of chronic conditions which commonly affect the musculoskeletal system, such as arthritis, bursitis, knee instability, lower back pain, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease and plantar fasciitis, to name only a few.

But there is good reason why every NFL team has multiple physical therapists in its roster. Even though the NFL encompasses almost 1,700 of the healthiest and most athletic people on earth, every coach knows that orthopedic therapy will enhance their players’ flexibility, increase their speed, and, most importantly, help them recover from injuries more quickly.

Your odds of getting drafted by the Minnesota Vikings may be low, but you’re still at risk of suffering the same kinds of injuries as the professionals – especially during the summertime, when the average person is most physically active. Here are just three of the most common summer injuries and how orthopedic therapy can treat them!


A sprain occurs when a ligament (the band of soft tissue which connects two bones) is damaged as the result of overextension. Sprain injuries most frequently occur in the ankle, where they are often caused by running on an uneven surface or landing incorrectly after a jump. Pain, swelling and bruising are all common symptoms of sprains.

Orthopedic therapy for a sprain revolves around strengthening and stretching the muscles surrounding the injured joint. It can include joint mobilization techniques such as therapist-assisted exercises, soft tissue mobilization which breaks up fibrous tissue to reduce muscle tension, and judicious application of heat, cold, and mild electrical stimulation. Physical therapy for sprains often includes specialized massage as well.


Unlike a sprain, which specifically affects a ligament, a strain impacts a muscle or tendon (the latter of which connects a muscle to a bone). The injury is caused when a muscle overextends and tears either partially or completely, and frequently results from overexertion or insufficient stretching before intense physical activity. Strains typically have the same pain, swelling and bruising symptoms that come with sprains, which is why professional diagnosis of physical injury is essential.

Damaged muscle tissue will continue to weaken without intervention, which will in turn worsen the patient’s discomfort, mobility, and risk of incurring additional injuries. As such the therapist will teach and facilitate exercises which specifically target their patient’s strained muscle.


A fracture is a broken bone. Whether or not a broken bone requires a cast depends on two primary factors: the specific bone that has been broken, and the severity of its fracture. For example, the collarbone and wrist are both more likely to fully heal when they aren’t restricted by a cast. Likewise, while very serious fractures (e.g. segmental and comminuted) universally require a cast, a hairline or linear fracture may heal just as well without one.

But regardless of the fissure’s location or type, recovery can only be accelerated through orthopedic therapy. A physical therapist may teach their patient how to avoid placing too much weight on an injured limb, use assistive devices without exacerbating the injury or slowing recovery, and perform exercises which fortify muscles surrounding the affected bone. They may also perform modalities which promote healing and reduce pain, such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound.

If you suffer a physical injury this summer, don’t jeopardize your chance of enjoying a full recovery by avoiding physical activity. Acucare Physical Therapy’s skilled therapists are standing by to administer the treatments and teach the exercises that will get you back up and running in no time. Please contact our clinic in Sioux Falls, SD today to schedule your initial consultation!