Wound care is a complex and multidisciplinary field that involves various healthcare professionals working collaboratively to promote optimal healing. While traditional wound care often focuses on medications, dressings, and surgical interventions, the role of physical therapy in wound healing is a vital aspect that deserves attention.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the significance of physical therapy in wound management, delve into key strategies employed by physical therapists to enhance the healing process and how PT can help wound care specialists after the wound is treated.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Wound Care

physical therapist checking a patient’s wound dressingPhysical therapy is a non-invasive and non-pharmacological approach to healing wounds. It can help promote healing, reduce inflammation, and prevent complications related to wounds. Physical therapy can also help patients regain their strength, mobility, and range of motion after sustaining a wound.

While a wound care specialist will typically oversee the treatment and care for your wound, physical therapy can also be beneficial for patients who have sustained a variety of different types of wounds, including surgical wounds, pressure ulcers, and traumatic wounds. It can also be useful for patients who have developed complications related to wound healing, such as lymphedema or muscle atrophy.

Physical therapists may utilize several wound care techniques such as therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, electrical stimulation, and help with wound care dressings. These techniques aim to promote tissue healing, reduce swelling, and increase circulation to the affected area. Physical therapy can also help reduce pain associated with wound healing, which can improve the patient’s overall quality of life.

In fact, according to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences while further studies are necessary to develop practical protocols in clinical practice, “physical therapy arises as a possible safe complementary treatment that might improve the results of the traditional treatment.

The Interplay Between Physical Therapy and Wound Healing

Physical therapists play an important role in the management of wounds, offering specialized interventions that aim to optimize the overall healing process. The relationship between physical therapy and wound healing is multifaceted, encompassing various aspects such as mobility, strength, circulation, and overall functional improvement. Let’s explore how physical therapy contributes to each of these components in the context of wound care.

Mobility and Range of Motion: Physical therapy interventions often focus on maintaining or restoring mobility and range of motion in patients. Restricted movement can impede the healing process by reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of complications. Physical therapists design customized exercise programs to enhance flexibility and prevent joint contractures, promoting a more conducive environment for wound healing.

Circulation and Blood Flow: Adequate blood circulation is crucial for delivering oxygen and essential nutrients to the wound site. Physical therapists employ targeted exercises to improve circulation, which, in turn, facilitates the transportation of healing factors to the injured tissues. Techniques such as therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, and vascular rehabilitation may be utilized to optimize blood flow and promote tissue repair.

Strength and Tissue Integrity: Building and maintaining muscle strength is fundamental in supporting wound healing. Physical therapists work with patients to develop strength training programs that target specific muscle groups, promoting overall tissue integrity and reducing the risk of complications. Strengthening exercises are tailored to the individual’s needs, taking into consideration the location and severity of the wound.

Functional Improvement: Beyond addressing specific wound-related issues, physical therapy aims to enhance overall functional capacity. This involves improving a patient’s ability to perform daily activities, thereby promoting independence and reducing the impact of the wound on their quality of life. Functional exercises, gait training, and activities of daily living (ADL) training are integral components of physical therapy in wound care.

How Physical Therapists Compliment Wound Care Specialists After Treatment

man in physical therapy for a knee injuryPhysical therapy and wound care specialists often work hand in hand; particularly after the wound has been treated. Wound specialists can work with physical therapists to develop a plan of care for patients who have undergone wound treatment. For example; a physical therapist can help the patient regain their strength and mobility, and a wound care specialist can monitor the wound for signs of infection or other complications.

Physical therapy can also help prevent further injury or complications related to wound healing. For example, if a patient has developed muscle atrophy due to immobility during the wound healing process, physical therapy can help them regain their strength and prevent further muscle loss.

Physical therapists can also help wound care specialists identify any underlying issues that may have contributed to the development of the wound such as if a patient has developed a pressure ulcer, a therapist can help identify any issues related to their positioning or mobility that may have contributed to the injury. Addressing these underlying issues can even be helpful in preventing the development of future wounds.

Although as mentioned above, your wound care specialist can (and should) oversee your healing; there are several different types of wounds a specialist may recommend physical therapy as a complimentary treatment. Let’s take a deeper look at a few examples:

Surgical wounds

Surgical wounds can occur due to a number of reasons, such as medical procedures, accidents, or injuries. Through different techniques, physical therapy can help speed up the healing process and improve overall quality of life for individuals who have undergone surgery.

Therapeutic exercises can help individuals regain strength, mobility, and flexibility after surgery. These exercises can include resistance training, aerobic exercise, and balance training. Range-of-motion exercises are also important for post-surgery recovery. Manual therapy techniques such as massage, stretching, and joint mobilization can also help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue healing after surgery.

Pressure ulcers

Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, are a common issue for individuals who are bedridden or wheelchair-bound for extended periods. These ulcers can be painful and lead to further complications such as infections or sepsis. Physical therapy can be utilized to help prevent the development of pressure ulcers and improve healing.

Physical therapists can use different techniques to help prevent pressure ulcers, such as repositioning, pressure relief devices, and mobility exercises. Repositioning involves changing the patient’s position regularly to reduce pressure on the skin. Pressure relief devices such as foam cushions or air mattresses can also help reduce pressure on the skin.

Mobility exercises can help individuals who are bedridden or wheelchair-bound to regain their strength and mobility. These exercises can include range-of-motion exercises and resistance training. Physical therapists can also work with individuals to improve their posture and body mechanics to reduce the risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Traumatic wounds

Traumatic wounds can occur due to accidents or injuries, such as falls, cuts, or burns. Physical therapy can help improve the healing process and reduce complications associated with traumatic wounds.

Physical therapists can use different techniques to help individuals recover from traumatic wounds, including manual therapy, electrical stimulation, and wound care dressings. Manual therapy techniques can help promote blood flow and reduce inflammation, while electrical stimulation can help stimulate tissue healing and reduce pain.

Physical Therapy After Wound Debridement

Wound debridement is a common procedure used to remove dead or infected tissue from a wound. This process can leave the wound area vulnerable and in need of specialized care to promote healing. Physical therapy can play an important role in helping individuals recover after wound debridement.

Physical therapists can use different techniques to help individuals after wound debridement, including wound care, range-of-motion exercises, and scar management. Wound care involves selecting appropriate dressings to promote healing and prevent infections. Physical therapists can also work with individuals to develop a wound care routine that includes cleaning the wound and changing dressings regularly.

Range-of-motion exercises can help individuals regain their normal range of motion after wound debridement. These exercises can help prevent muscle atrophy, joint stiffness, and reduce the risk of contractures. Physical therapists can also provide guidance on exercises that can help improve strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Scar management is another important aspect of post-debridement physical therapy. Scarring can occur after suffering a wound and can cause limitations in movement and function. Physical therapists can use different techniques such as massage, stretching, and exercises to improve scar tissue mobility and reduce their appearance.


In conclusion, the integration of physical therapy into the field of wound care can be crucial for promoting effective and efficient healing. By addressing mobility, circulation, strength, and overall functionality, physical therapists contribute significantly to the comprehensive care of individuals with wounds. When it comes to wound healing, it is essential to collaborate across disciplines to provide the best possible outcomes for patients. Through a holistic approach that encompasses physical therapy and other essential components, wound care specialists can optimize the wound healing process and improve the overall well-being of their patients.

Unlike most practices, At West Coast Wound Center we do not just focus on the surgical aspects of the wounds, we take into consideration the most important extrinsic and intrinsic factors that affect healing. That’s why we work closely with each patient’s physical therapist to coordinate care and help optimize one’s wound healing.

If you or someone you know has suffered a wound or has a question about treatment book an appointment at our center in Fresno today.



2501 W Burbank Blvd #200, Burbank, CA 91505

Phone: (818) 856-9535

Fax: (818) 979-0593