After most bone and muscle injuries, patients benefit from physical therapy to minimize pain and restore movement. Initial physical therapy treatments may focus on controlling pain and improving healing of the bone, tendon, or muscles, with the use of ice or electrical stimulation treatments. Massage may also be used to ease muscle pain. A physical therapist guides the patient in exercises to gradually stretch and strengthen the muscles.
Range of motion exercises are often prescribed to patients to help improve joint function after an injury. The goal of these exercises is to maintain flexibility and gently increase the range of joint and muscle movement while decreasing pain, swelling, and stiffness. The exercises may vary depending on the part of the body that was injured. There are are three common types of range of motion exercises:
- Passive range of motion exercises are performed while the joint is moved by an assistive device or by a therapist
- Active range of motion exercises are performed solely by the patient moving the joint without any assistance
- Active assistive range of motion exercises are performed by the patient with the assistance of a therapist
Recommendations may also be made to help alleviate the stress to the injured muscles and avoid re-injury. Physical therapy treatments, including range of motion exercises, focus on helping the patient return to all usual activities. Depending on the severity of the initial injury, the recovery period may vary.