If you talk to any sports enthusiast (those that play, not those that spectate!), you’re likely to have heard the debate around choosing physiotherapy versus orthopaedic surgery. Perhaps you’ve suffered an injury yourself – sprains, torn ligaments or a dislocation – and you have wondered which is the most viable treatment? Which is more cost-effective in the long-term? And which will give you the results that you need?
Let’s take a brief look at what each treatment offers to help you to determine what is the best choice for you.
Physiotherapy is defined as a method of treatment that builds up muscle strength and endurance, and improves range of motion. This is done by using a combination of massage, heat treatment, and exercise. It has also been defined as “ a treatment method that focuses on the science of movement and helps people to restore, maintain and maximise their physical strength.”
Physiotherapy is very often used to prevent damage to the body, as well as to assist in recovery and manage your overall health. For example, your physiotherapist would assist with an exercise program to improve mobility; assist with joint manipulation to reduce pain and increase movement range; engage in muscle re-education for increased control, and use electro-therapy to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Orthopaedic Surgery Defined
An orthopaedic surgeon specialises in “the diagnosis and preoperative, operative, and postoperative treatment of diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system.” Healthcommunities.com lists a number of areas where an orthopaedic surgeon may specialise, including Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy or reconstructive surgery.
Generally speaking, there exists a point where physiotherapy will not be an effective choice due to extensive joint or ligament damage. In these cases, surgery may be the wisest course of action. For example, bone fractures and breaks need to be attended to properly in order to prevent deformation as they heal. Likewise, in the case of a meniscus tear. Immediate surgery would almost always be recommended.
It has also been noted that some injuries or diseases of the musculoskeletal system require surgery in order to prevent them from becoming chronic conditions, or developing complications.
Physiotherapy vs Orthopaedic Surgery?
To be fair, this isn’t really an either/ or question.
If you are researching the best treatment option for yourself or a member of your family, then you are likely considering cost, procedures, downtime and the fastest healing time.
We believe that there are no short-cuts to a proper diagnosis and we always recommend seeing to the pain or injury sooner rather than later. It is always better to have all the facts at your disposal before you make the decision to choose treatment from a physiotherapist versus orthopaedic surgery.
Your decision will also depend on the extent of the injury and what your expectations are for life after treatment. Are you an ardent sportsman with a debilitating knee injury? Perhaps you’ve suffered from an ACL tear, but you are keen to get back into the game. In this case, surgery would likely be recommended so a visit to a trusted orthopaedic surgeon would be advised.
To reduce pain, ensure proper healing, and enjoy long-term results you’ll often find that your orthopaedic surgeon will work hand-in-hand with a physiotherapist. The treatment offered by these two professionals may overlap in areas of rehabilitation and ongoing exercise programs to achieve the best long-term solution for the patient.
If you are suffering from joint or muscle pain, or you have sustained an injury on the playing field then we are here to help.
Our qualified Sports Medicine Physician, Dr Baba, operates from three convenient locations. Why not give us a call and let us get you back in the game?