Physical therapy is one of the most powerful tools a foot and ankle surgeon has at his or her disposal. When you sustain an injury to your lower limbs, or undergo a surgical procedure to correct a deformity or other problem, you obviously need both a skilled surgeon and time to heal. But that is really only half the battle.
The goal of physical therapy is not just to heal damaged tissues, but restore them. The injury may have “healed,” but if you don’t have the strength, flexibility or function that you did before, it reduces your quality of life and makes it easier for the same injuries to occur again. Physical therapy helps you not just heal, but come back at 100%—or as close to it as possible—so you can go back to the activities you love without pain.
How Physical Therapy Restores Harmony to Your Body
No individual muscle or ligament operates in isolation. Each group of tissues and structures supports one another and operates in tandem or in opposition to another group in order to keep you up and about and pain free. One group flexes while another extends. One pronates while another supinates. When one part of the body sustains damage or gets too tight, the others overstrain themselves to maintain a healthy balance, potentially leading to both pain and a host of other problems or complications.
Physical therapy seeks to put those muscle groups back in harmony and balance with one another, strengthening weakened muscles or loosening tight ones as needed. The program may target specific muscles or muscles groups and may include stretches, strengthening exercises, balance training, flexibility and range of motion development—or even massage, depending on your specific needs.
Physical Therapy as an Alternative to Surgery
For many injuries, a well-developed and comprehensive physical therapy program—practiced faithfully in combination with other conservative treatment measures such as orthotics, footwear modifications, or medications—can help you avoid the operating table and return to full health without invasive procedures. In fact, considering all the conditions we treat at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute that would warrant comprehensive physical therapy, the overall success rate is as high as 80%, which means 4 out of 5 patients can avoid surgery entirely.
Physical Therapy for Rehabilitation after Surgery
Physical therapy is an integral part of the recovery and rehabilitation process after a surgical procedure. Although most procedures will require a period of rest first—trying to do too much can impair the healing process—following your doctor’s instructions on when, how, and how much therapy to engage in after surgery will help you achieve a faster and more complete recovery, and prevent injury recurrence.
Good communication between you, your surgeon, and your therapy team is crucial to finding the right balance and timing between healing rest and active rehabilitation in order to maximize your results.
Your Comprehensive Foot & Ankle Care Team
North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute is committed to helping you overcome your foot pain and restore healthy, happy feet to take you wherever you need to go. In addition to providing conservative and surgical treatment options for a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions, we also understand the importance of physical therapy for recovery and rehabilitation. We’ve developed strong relationships with physical therapists throughout the Austin community and can help you with a program or refer you to the specialist that best suits your needs.