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Physiotherapists practicing in orthopaedics are well known for their use of therapeutic exercise, hands-on skills and special treatment modalities. Most physiotherapists use knowledge of orthopaedics regardless of their area of practice. Having a foundation in orthopaedics is necessary to understand human movement, which is a physiotherapy speciality! Learn more about orthopaedics below. Go to find clinic or click the search icon in the menu to find a clinic!

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What is Orthopaedic Physiotherapy?

Orthopaedics is the most common area of practice for physiotherapists.  Understanding human movement requires in-depth knowledge of orthopaedics; therefore, physiotherapists can be found practicing orthopaedic principles in nearly all practice settings.   Orthopaedics refers to the neuromusculoskeletal system.  "Neuro" is for the nervous system, "musculo" refers to the muscles and "skeletal" refers to your bones and joints.  Therapists practicing in this area are experts at identifying and treating associated pathology.  They're also experts at optimizing health and human performance through treatment of the neuromusculoskeletal system. 

Manual therapy is a very common term used in physiotherapy practice.  Manual therapy generally refers to direct treatment of the neuromusculoskeletal system through manipulation or maneuvering of the human body.  Manual therapists (or physiotherapists practicing manual therapy) are commonly seen using their hands to help their patients.  

Many other treatments are directed toward the neuromusculoskeletal system. Intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is known for its impact on both the nervous system and the muscular system when needles are placed appropriately in myofascial trigger points ("knots").  Therapeutic exercise principles take our knowledge of the neuromusculoskeletal system into consideration.  Many of the exercise parameters derived by a physiotherapist come from their knowledge of this system.

Many post-graduate physiotherapy courses are focused in orthopaedics.  Physiotherapists may attend a course that is specific to one joint in the body, or they may attend a course that is all encompassing.  FCAMPT is a designation for physiotherapists who have completed extensive training offered by the Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and some university institutions.  Therapists with this designation beside their name have completed the entire curriculum and are recognized internationally for their skills.  There are also many therapists who have taken courses that are part of the FCAMPT curriculum but do not have the designation.  

This article is not intended to be a literature review. References to scientific evidence may be provided to substantiate some information; however, this may not always be the case. For more information regarding scientific evidence pertaining to a specific treatment or service, speak with your physiotherapist or contact your provincial physiotherapy college.
Last updated Jul 7, 2022
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