Physical and occupational therapy are often confused, and the truth is they overlap, sometimes quite a bit. PT often focuses on mobility while OT often focuses on enabling patient to complete daily activities. Each is used to treat injuries that limit function, mobility, and cause pain. Both OT and PT can help patients recover from surgery or illness or avoid surgery and prevent injuries or physical disabilities. Often your primary care provider, or orthopedic surgeon may order OT and/or PT prior to recommending surgery. The main component of joint surgery avoidance is strengthening the muscles that support your joints. Stretching is also important as it keeps the muscles flexible. The stronger those muscles are that surround a join, the less load that gets transferred into the joint. Hopefully, that will lead to less pain and improved function and delay or even prevent need for surgical intervention.
If you do need surgery, OT and PT may decrease the amount of time you need prescription pain medication. A 2021 study associated shorter duration of prescription opioid use following hip and knee replacements when occupational and physical therapy were provided. OT and PT can address pain and sociobehavioral factors associated with postsurgical opioid use.
If you are considering an orthopedic surgery and/or have chronic pain, consider giving therapy a try. We can work with you and your primary care provide or orthopedic surgeon to develop and individualized treatment plan to meet your needs. If you are not quite ready for surgery or therapy, consider trying a Fit and Strong Class. This class was designed for people with lower extremity osteoarthritis to decrease pain and improve function. Talk to your primary care provider or Therapy at call (605-598-1160) to see what is right for you.