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Physical Therapy

Once your pain is under control, physical therapy can help you get back to your normal activities and avoid another broken bone.

Your plan depends on which bone is affected. You may need to rehab the injury and strengthen certain muscles.

For example, if you break a wrist, you may need to build your upper body strength and strengthening your wrist muscles, says Sherri Betz, PT, a physical therapist in Santa Cruz, Calif. She chairs the American Physical Therapy Association’s Bone Health Special Interest Group.

For the spine, Betz evaluates how well someone can get into and out of bed, lift an object  less than 10 pounds, reach overhead, sit in a chair, and rise to standing.

If those activities are tricky, Betz works with the person on positioning ''so they can sleep, sit, rest." Using pillows and propping, she helps people find ways to get comfortable. She teaches them breathing and stretching techniques to help control pain.

This exercise helps to avoid a hunched-over posture:

  • Sit in a chair with a soft ball behind your back.
  • Lift up your chest.
  • Put your hands behind your head
  • Continue to lift the chest to avoid rounding of the back.

After hip surgery, Betz says it's important to get the legs strong again so that they can get back to their normal activities.

If balance is an issue, she recommends tai chi to help prevent falls. This ancient Chinese martial art is known to improve balance.

People with spine fractures may go to six or eight physical therapy sessions, Betz says. For hip fractures, people often get eight to 12 weeks of physical therapy.

She gives people homework and encourages them to continue doing their exercises after they finish their PT sessions so as to stay strong and active.

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