Mount Sterling, KY Physical Therapist
stay active

7 Simple Ways To Stay Active

Too many of us have an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to staying fit. We’re too “slammed” at work for the gym, or our kids’ activities are keeping us in the car — and off the track — for long hours. Yet, there are a few basic elements you can add into your daily life that truly add up to a more active lifestyle. Talk with an expert physical therapist at Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY for further health advice!

1. Take the Longest — or Hardest — Distance Between Two Points

Speed is usually the name of the game in your busy life. But does the time saved parking close to the store really add value? Make a game of parking at the far end of the lot, so that you have to push a cart or carry a bag a greater distance. When you’re at work, take the stairs — unless you really are running late for that meeting!

2. Pay for Your Lunch — in Footsteps

Skip the cafeteria in favor of a healthy eatery down the street if you’re working. Or walk outside for 20 minutes before you return to your brown-bag lunch. If you’re retired or working from home, walk to the corner grocer’s to gather the goods for lunch. Living out in the country or the suburbs? Pretend that your daily walk is the “fee” you have to pay in order to get into your kitchen and make that sandwich.

3. Consider a Standing Desk

How do standing desks help? It’s amazing how much healthier simply standing in place is, compared to sitting. For one thing, you burn more calories. You’ll also hunch less, meaning that neck and shoulder pain is eliminated. Standing also boosts fitness in significant ways by keeping blood sugar more steady after a meal, and by encouraging more movement overall.

4. Fool Yourself Into Running Errands

Using a smaller glass for water — or mug for green tea — means that you have to return to the water cooler or kitchen more often to fulfill your daily hydration goals. Likewise, you can make going down the hall to borrow a stapler a separate trip from hiking upstairs to ask someone in HR about your vacation schedule. If our Fitbits have taught us anything, it’s that a hundred extra steps here and there really do add up over the course of the day!

5. Use Fitness Benefits as an Incentive to Do Chores

Organizational experts know that 20 or 30 minutes of chores a day adds up to a cleaner, more organized space. You can certainly get a lot of toys into baskets during that time — not to mention mopping a floor or weeding the herb garden. So if you remember that these dreaded tasks also burn calories and build up your core, it may help you feel more like tackling them.

6. Keep Equipment Handy

Stash a yoga mat or 5-pound weights under your bed. Hang resistance bands on a hook in the kitchen. That way, you’ll be far more likely to do a few reps while watching TV or waiting for the pasta to boil!

7. Don’t Put Off Physical Therapy

The most obvious way physical therapy helps is by addressing the aches and pains that keep you from pursuing your active lifestyle. In addition, many physical therapy sessions are a workout in themselves, which helps you meet your weekly cardio and/or endurance goals. A physical therapist is also a great resource for giving you tips on tweaking your daily habits. He or She can go over what a normal day looks like for you and offer advice on how to make it a more active one. If chronic pain is an issue, your PT can show you specific moves that streamline the physical challenges.

Contact Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY today to see how physical therapy can help you live a pain-free and more active life.

treat arthritis pain naturally

Treating Arthritis Pain Without The Meds

Arthritis is a catch-all term used to describe more than 100 different kinds of joint pain and joint disease. While arthritis is commonly believed to be a condition that afflicts the elderly, the reality is that it can strike people in early middle age. In fact, elite male athletes are more likely to develop arthritis than the general public. Arthritis medications and pain medicines can cause some nasty side effects. So, if you’re looking for a natural treatment for arthritis, consider meeting with a physical therapist at Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY to learn how you can kick the meds and reduce your arthritis symptoms.

What Is Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is caused by a reduction in joint cartilage as it wears away through age or “wear and tear.” This causes bones to rub together, which leads to pain and swelling. Physical therapy can often help to reduce arthritis pain without medication, especially if the arthritis is mild to moderate.

Inflammatory Arthritis: In certain cases, the body’s immune system will attack joint tissues with intense inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is one example of this type of condition. Inflammatory arthritis often has a genetic cause, and doctors usually treat it aggressively with drugs. However, depending on the severity of symptoms, physical therapy may be recommended for treatment as well.

Metabolic Arthritis: The most common type of metabolic arthritis is gout, a condition caused by uric acid crystals building up in the joints of the extremities, especially the feet. It’s typically caused by reduced kidney function. Physical therapy can help gout patients restore range of motion in the affected area and even reduce the buildup of the acidic crystals that accumulate in the joints.

Arthritis in Athletes

According to a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, about 30 percent of elite male athletes who engage in contact sports such as football will develop arthritis in the knees and hips. That’s compared to about 19 percent of the general public. The wear and tear on the joints that results from high-contact sports increases the likelihood of developing arthritis. Soccer and handball players were found to be twice as “at risk” of arthritis later in life, and hockey players are three times as likely to develop arthritis.

Arthritis Medications

Depending on the type of arthritis that a person has, doctors may prescribe NSAID pain relievers, corticosteroids, antirheumatic drugs or antibiotics. All of these carry a risk of side effects, and some can be extremely serious. NSAIDs can lead to an increased risk of blood clots, heart attack or stroke. Corticosteroids can contribute to cataracts, cause high blood sugar levels or even contribute to bone loss — which is terrible when you consider that the patient is already dealing with arthritis!

Physical Therapy for Arthritis

The goals when working with a physical therapist for arthritis treatment will include preserving a good range of motion, increasing strength to reduce stress on the joints, and other natural treatment options. Here are some of the benefits of working with our physical therapists:

  • Your physical therapist will work with you to control your weight through exercise and diet. Controlling your weight helps to prevent added stress on weight-bearing joints.
  • Posture work will help to reduce stress on your joints.
  • Light exercises and stretching will help to increase range of motion in the affected areas.
  • Your therapist will also recommend a schedule for rest and sleep to complement your exercises. This helps the body to heal and hopefully reduce arthritic inflammation and pain.

Every treatment regimen is different based on your body’s needs and your particular type of arthritis. The best way to get started on a med-free treatment through physical therapy is to contact Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY and scheduling an appointment with one of our physical therapists.

lower back pain

Tired of Lower Back Pain? Here’s What To Do:

Lower back pain is the nemesis of many. That familiar ache can limit time spent working, relaxing, and enjoying life. It can lead to irritability and a whole host of other health problems. And, yet, it’s surprisingly common.

The World Health Organization estimates that in the United States, 149 million days of work are lost due to low back pain. Back pain is the leading cause of inactivity and loss of work, and it appears in 60 to 70 percent of people in industrialized nations.

If you’re experiencing this type of pain, you know how important it is to find relief. Fortunately, a qualified physical therapist can guide you towards a pain-free life. Here are some ways that we can help, and reasons to call Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY today.

What Is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy includes treatments that focus on the management of disabilities and injuries. It helps to alleviate lower back pain, encourage healing, and bring about restored function and movement. It is performed by a trained physical therapist who is knowledgeable in evaluation and conservative management, including rehabilitation, of orthopedic, neurologic, and cardiovascular conditions.

There are two components to most physical therapy programs: passive physical therapy to reduce the patient’s pain so that it becomes more manageable, and active exercises that the patient engages in independently.

Passive Physical Therapy

When you’re suffering from lower back pain, it can be debilitating and makes it so you can’t be as active as you would like. As such, it’s important for a physical therapist to reduce your pain as much as possible so that you can actively participate in your treatment. These tools are often used as a form of ‘passive therapy’ because they are done to a patient by the physical therapist.

  • Electrical stimulation, such as TENS Units
  • Heat/ice packs
  • Ultrasound
  • Iontophoresis
  • Dry needling
  • Manual therapies
  • Massage
  • Hydrotherapy

We use some of these methods, such as hot/cold packs and massage therapy, to improve blood flow to the affected area, thereby reducing pain and swelling. We also utilize electrical stimulation therapy, which is a painless treatment that delivers tiny electrical waves through your nervous system to relieve pain, reduce muscle spasms, and encourage your body to produce pain-relieving hormones. Some of our clients are best suited for hydrotherapy treatment. This involves performing low-intensity movements in water which relieves pressure on muscles while allowing you to move your joints without discomfort.

Active Physical Therapy

Active physical therapy treatments are exercises performed by the patient and are often used in the later stages of physical therapy — once the lower back pain has subsided enough so that the patient can perform them without excessive discomfort. There are many different types of exercises that a physical therapist may recommend, including stretching, stability training, and strength training. Some of these will help you with your flexibility and range of motion, while others help build the muscles around the painful area to provide those parts of the body with support.

What to Expect During Your Visits

When you first visit our clinic, your therapist will ask you several questions about your health, history, and lower back pain specifically. Having this information will help your therapist provide you with the best treatment plan possible so that you see long-lasting results as quickly as possible.

Your therapist will also provide a thorough examination. Depending on your symptoms, your physical therapist may assess your strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, posture, blood pressure, and heart and respiration rates. This may include using his or her hands to palpate your back and surrounding area, as well as a visual examination of your mobility.

You may learn special exercises to perform at home so that you can minimize pain, avoid re-injury, lessen strain, and speed up your recovery time. Your PT specialist may recommend special equipment and will undoubtedly spend a great deal of time educating you about your source of pain and pain management strategies. He or she will also perform hands-on exercises to deliver you immediate relief.

When you’re ready to alleviate or eliminate your pain, contact Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling and see how we can help you live a pain-free life.

anti inflammation foods

Eliminate Pain and Inflammation Through Nutrition

Internal inflammation can wreak havoc with your health. You may already be seeing a physical therapist for inflammation-related health issues, such as arthritis. Whether you have a specific diagnosis or generalized pain in your back and joints, Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY can help. Your physical therapist may also suggest an anti-inflammatory diet for additional pain relief.

What to Avoid

One of the quickest way to reverse nutrition-based inflammation is to stop eating the foods most associated with it. Unfortunately, for many people, these foods tend to be convenience items. That means that you may need to readjust how you think about preparing meals and snacks in your quest for pain relief.

On the plus side? There are few surprises in the types of foods that make inflammation worse. You probably already know these nutritional “no-nos” – they’re also bad for your heart and your waistline. So whether your guilty pleasures are savory or sweet, begin to ease them out of your meal plans.

Packaged meals and junk food snacks are often full of trans fat, sugar and preservatives. In addition, avoid fatty and fried foods, red meat, pastries and donuts, white breads, white rice and semolina pasta. If you’re at all sensitive to inflammatory foods, these are among the worst when it comes to bringing on painful flare-ups.

How to Replace Inflammatory Foods

Many “bad guys” in the food world have easy alternatives. Substitute white bread with whole-grain bread, white rice with brown rice, and semolina pasta with wheat or garbanzo pasta. In place of hamburger, chops and meatloaf, focus on fish, chicken and veggie “steaks.”

Preparation is also an important component of an anti-inflammatory diet. Avoid frying foods or ordering fried foods when eating out. Instead, opt for the same ingredients that have been grilled, roasted or steamed. Rather than topping main courses and side dishes with creamy sauces and dressings, choose healthier alternatives. Topping options for various salads, side dishes and main courses include vinaigrette, Greek yogurt, tomato salsa, fruit salsa, lemon juice and herbal olive oil.

Anti-Inflammatory All-Stars

Along with healthy substitutions of inflammatory foods, look for nutritional choices you can make that directly address internal swelling, Make sure to add these to your meal plans each week, and assess whether your health issues seem to ease in response.

Certain anti-inflammatory herbs, spices and supplements may provide some pain relief. Multivitamins and fish oil pills are among the supplements noted for their anti-inflammatory properties. Good herbal supplement choices include boswellia, green tea, cat’s claw and devil’s claw. Other non-food items are turmeric and fresh or powdered ginger for seasoning and green tea as a soothing beverage. (Enjoy green tea hot or chilled.)

The “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables that you’ve heard of for heart health and boosted immunity may also fight inflammation. Eat more colorful fruits like berries and mangos. Vegetables that range from dark green (kale and spinach) to orange (carrots and sweet potatoes) to red/purple (beets and tomatoes) to yellow (sweet peppers and corn) are also great choices.

Along with fish oil pills for omega-3 inflammation protection, add more actual fish to your diet. The types highest in Omega-3 fats are, not surprisingly, fatty fish. Salmon, herring, sardines, trout, mackerel and tuna all may provide some pain relief when inflammation is the culprit.

Long-term pain relief can rarely be achieved with diet alone. As important as nutrition is, it’s also crucial to consult your doctor about other ways to gain flexibility and reduce pain. Physical therapy can help to work with your dietary changes. Together, these changes address the inflammation that’s causing stiffness and discomfort. Contact Spaulding Physical Therapy Mount Sterling, KY today to learn more about how physical therapy and nutritional coaching can make a difference.

stress

Tension Headaches: How to Handle Them

Of the four distinct types of headaches — tension, migraine, sinus and cluster — the tension type is the most common. Of course, stress is a natural reaction to stimuli and can keep us safe from danger. Yet an excessive amount of stress can lead to tension headaches. That’s why learning how to handle emotional and physical stress can help reduce the severity and frequency of tension headaches.

If you’re concerned about your headaches, contact us — and read on, for some helpful tips about coping with tension headaches.

How the Body Reacts to Stress

When the “fight or flight” response is triggered, our bodies become flooded with protective hormones like adrenaline, which leads to a chain reaction of neck and scalp muscles contracting. These physical reactions often result in either tension or migraine headaches.  

Muscular overuse is another factor that leads to tension headaches. Holding your neck or shoulder joints in an unnatural position for too long causes supporting muscles to go into spasm. In turn, the muscles compress the adjoining nerves, sending pain impulses to your brain that result in headaches and sometimes a sore neck.

Working at a computer, bending over a work table or holding a phone to your ear for prolonged periods are all frequent causes of tension headaches from physical sources.

Additional Causes

Along with muscle-bunching activities like desk work, here are a few other factors associated with tension headaches:

  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Excess alcohol
  • Fluctuating caffeine levels
  • Eye strain
  • Use of tobacco products

Dealing With a Tension Headache

Here are three of the most common tips concerning how people effectively deal with tension headaches:

  • Stretch your neck muscles regularly. Tense muscles in the neck region are often tension headache culprits. Physical therapy can also help.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Whether it’s deep breathing, yoga or walking on your lunch break — finding a way to de-stress is key to stopping tension headaches before they start.
  • Adjust your ergonomics. Your workplace setup can cause headaches. Consider simple adjustments like setting up your monitor to a more comfortable position, and getting a headset for your telephone.

If you have a severe headache, especially if it’s an unusual type for you, seek immediate medical attention. Tension headaches, on the other hand, don’t require emergency care — but they can still be painful and interrupt your normal routine. We may be able to give you the tools you need to decrease the severity and frequency of these annoying headaches. Contact Spaulding Physical Therapy today for more information.

 

benefits

The Unexpected Benefits of Stretching

Many non-athletes — and even a few actual jocks — are guilty of either rushing through their warm-up stretching, or skipping the cool-down moves after the workout. Yet, along with cardio and strength-training, stretching also delivers significant health benefits.

You probably already know that stretching extends your overall range of motion, while also elasticizing your muscles and enhancing coordination. But those improvements, in turn, bring about other health benefits. We can discuss more of these during your visit, but in the meantime here are some of the frequently-overlooked benefits of stretching.

Increased Circulation

The act of lengthening and loosening your muscles through stretching means that you’re simultaneously opening up their interior blood vessels. This increased circulation is crucial for heart health and lowered cholesterol. It’s also a boon for the muscles themselves, because the improved blood flow results in faster recovery time, and less overall soreness after a workout.

Longer term, improving your circulation is a superior mood enhancer and energy booster. The physiological impact of increased circulation means that your bloodstream is carrying more oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, allowing for higher energy.

Reduced Tension

The most obvious benefit of a decrease in muscular tensing is, of course, that your pain and discomfort is greatly lessened. That alone is a smart reason to add more stretching into your life, because relaxing those contracted muscles will instantly make you feel physically better.

There’s an emotional component to “de-knotting” your muscles, as well. You’ll literally feel as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, which can’t help but lift your mood. Optimism is also restored because relaxed muscles allow all-important endorphins to flow, which banishes pessimism — and that dreaded midday fatigue.  

Improved Flexibility and Posture

Enhancing both your flexibility and posture through stretching your joints and muscles are key to avoiding a range of pain-causing conditions.

Range of motion is vastly improved by regular stretching. Not only can you correct any joint stiffness you presently have through regular stretching as you’re extending your limbs as far as they can go, but you can also reduce the risks of future, motion-limiting injuries.

In terms of your muscle groups, stretching keeps the muscles supporting your spin lengthened and in perfect position. This proper alignment improves posture, and usually reduces any incidences of neck and back pain.

 

If any of these health issues sound familiar to you, please call Spaulding Physical Therapy today. We’ll work together to put together the stretching routine that’s best for you!

 

activity

How Staying Active at Work Can Increase Productivity

Picture yourself at work. Hunched over a keyboard, clicking away on a mouse, answering the phone, or having meetings, the most moving around you are likely to do is to and from the copy machine. It is no surprise that our sedentary jobs are causing fatigue and stiffness, both mentally and physically. Fortunately, having a desk job doesn’t exclude you from experiencing more physical activity at work. Give these activities a try and you are sure to find out you feel better physically and experience higher productivity.

Time for a Mental Shift

Somehow, somewhere along the way, Americans got it into their heads that working without breaks is the sign of productivity. Not true! Working without breaks not only causes physical and mental fatigue, studies have shown that people who allow themselves to take a break are more productive than their power-through counterparts.

Use the 1 in 20 Rule

Studies have shown that the mind can only work continuously on a singular task for 20 minutes at a time before productivity begins to slow. Fortunately, it does not take a lot to reset the brain’s ability to refocus. Standing up and moving around every twenty minutes, changing positions, or walking to another office is enough to give your brain the blood flow it needs to be ready for the tasks at hand.

Stay Hydrated

On average, water represents up to 60 percent of our body weight yet many of us walk around chronically dehydrated. In addition to digestive problems, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain, chronic dehydration can slow productivity. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Make sure you are consuming water throughout the day in order to keep your brain firing the way it should.

Stretch

Stretching your muscles is a great way to keep the blood flowing to your brain. You may find that your body has a natural need to stretch when it has been stagnant too long. This does not mean you need to roll out the yoga mat by your desk and do a pigeon pose. You can stretch your arms, legs, back and neck in just a few minutes without special equipment and enjoy greater productivity for hours afterward.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

We breathe thousands of times a day without even thinking about it, yet becoming aware of your breath is a great way to reduce stress, think more clearly and work better. Take deep breaths that fill your lungs and expel all of the air out. Then, enjoy a more productive work day.

Call Spaulding Physical Therapy today and speak to our experts.

arthritis

Tips to Treat Your Arthritis Pain

If you are like the one in four American adults who suffer from arthritis symptoms, you are looking for options for managing the day to day aches and pains and often debilitating loss of mobility.  Fortunately, there are many things you can do that, when combined with physical therapy, can improve your strength, increase your flexibility and help you manage your arthritis symptoms. While these tips are helpful, they work best when paired with professional treatment, call us today to learn how we can help you live pain-free!

Weight Loss

Since many arthritis symptoms are exacerbated by obesity, weight loss is one of the most effective ways to manage those symptoms without medication. Fortunately, physical therapists are adept at creating weight loss or weight maintenance programs that take pressure off of your joints and increase blood flow for nutrient delivery throughout your entire body.

Time for New Shoes

Many people overlook the effects of footwear on arthritis of the knee. Whether it is special purchasing special footwear or adding insoles or orthotics into your existing shoes, this simple fix can help immediately relieve the pressure on the weight-bearing joints of your lower body. As an added bonus, the correct footwear makes it easier to walk or exercise without pain.

Hot & Cold, Hot & Cold

When it comes to arthritis, temperature matters. Many people discover that a warm bath or heat pack helps ease arthritis aches and pains. Others find that cold packs applied on a regular basis reduce swelling in the joints and relieve discomfort. Alternating between the two has been shown to provide the soothing comfort of heat with the anti-inflammatory properties of cold. However, it is important to consult with a medical professional about the proper procedures for applying both heat and cold in order to avoid skin irritation.

Exercise

As tempting as it is to “rest” when you are uncomfortable, there is nothing better for managing arthritis than exercising on a regular basis. However, many people are reluctant to begin an exercise program with arthritis for fear of injuring themselves. Physical therapy can not only help you discover the exercise program that is right for your condition, it can provide you with a long-term solution to your arthritis symptoms. Your physical therapist will show you proper technique, a variety of exercises and how to wear appropriate accessories like braces or wraps if necessary.

Arthritis should not stop you from living the life you deserve. The combination of physical therapy, a weight loss program, heat and cold, and footwear can help you manage your day-to-day discomfort for the rest of your life. Contact Spaulding Physical Therapy today to get started on your personalized physical therapy program and start enjoying a symptom-free life!

 

 

 

diet

Still hurting? Your Diet Could Be Why  

What you put in your mouth can make your aches and pains worse. Like they say, “You are what you eat.” There are many foods that can cause inflammation and actually result in pain. Eating a healthier diet can help you feel better, without those nagging aches and pains.

Foods To Say “No” To

While it may be difficult to resist sodas, chocolate bars, pastries, and desserts, it’s smart to just say no. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, processed sugars release inflammatory messengers. The culprits are known as cytokines. To be on the safe side, avoid any ingredients that end in “ose.” That includes sucrose and fructose.

Saturated fats also trigger inflammation. Cheese and pizza are a mainstay of the American diet, and Americans should definitely reduce their intakes of these foods. Other culprits include full-fat dairy products, pasta, red meat and grain-based desserts.

Harvard School researchers sent out the alarm on trans fats in the 1990s. Trans fat triggers systemic inflammation. You’ll find plenty of trans fats in fast foods, snack foods, cookies, donuts and frozen breakfast products. Be sure to read the ingredient labels and avoid those listed with partially hydrogenated oils.

Skip the white flour products that have refined carbohydrates. That includes white rice and white potatoes. Processed carbs increase fats and fuel the production of advanced glycation, which causes inflammation.

While you may think mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is only found in soy sauce and Asian food, it can be found in deli meats, fast foods, salad dressings and prepared soups. MSG is known as a chemical that triggers pathways for chronic inflammation.

Foods To Say “Yes” To

Think of a more natural diet like veggies and fresh fruits. And start drinking water. By just switching to water, you can reduce pain caused by inflammation. Greek yogurt is a good choice and so are foods with natural probiotics. Just by making better food choices can put you on the road to less pain and less need to rely on medications. Be a part of the solution instead of the problem by changing up your diet. Another plus to eating better is that you just may wind up losing a few of those stubborn pounds. So, the next time you feel a nagging ache, do some thinking about what you’re actually putting in your mouth. It just may be a food that you should say no to or give Spaulding Physical Therapy a call to see how we can help assess your aches and pains!

 

lower-back-pain

Without Intervention, Your Lower Back Pain Could Be Here to Stay

Ask any physical therapist, and you’ll get confirmation that lower back pain is the most frequent complaint they’re asked to treat. Often, back strain goes away on their own, especially with the classic “RICE” treatment. But when rest, ice, compression and elevation just can’t cut the pain, physical therapy is often your most reliable path back to a pain-free life.

Where Does LBP Come From — and What Can Prevent it?

Among the most common causes of lower back pain (LBP) is an improperly aligned spine, stemming from incorrect posture. Most office desk setups don’t provide lumbar support or ergonomic positioning, while poor work habits keep us from giving our spines much-needed relief by moving around during the day.

Non-desk jobs have their own perils. Standing all day, especially when combined with heavy lifting or frequent bending, is also bad for spinal health. The muscles surrounding the abs and lower back may not get the support they need as you pace, bend and lift, resulting in LBP.

In either case, supporting those back muscles is key to reducing the risk of chronic lower back pain. Insist on an ergonomic desk chair, or at least take the opportunity to stretch and move around more frequently. If you’re a cashier, wait staff or warehouse worker, invest in shoes with good arch support, which helps keep your entire body better aligned. If needed, wear a specialized brace to help support heavy lifting.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapy is one of the most effective ways for easing lower back pain. Medical professionals generally urge their patients to try PT before turning to prescription medications or surgery. The reasons are obvious: Some medications can have long-term health consequences, despite the advantages of delivering temporary pain relief, while invasive procedures carry risk of complication and prolonged recovery time.

Lower back pain PT typically takes the two-pronged approach of using both active and passive physical therapy, unless the therapist has a reason to recommend one over the other.

  • Passive PT includes the application of specialized ice packs and heating pads. The therapist may also use various types of pulsing equipment, which stimulate nerves and release pain.
  • Active PT involves the patient performing stretches and exercises that build the kind of flexibility and strength needed to both prevent future flare-ups and reduce current pain. Some of these are done under a physical therapist’s supervision, on specialized equipment, while others can be carried out at home after the patient learns the basics.

Call Spaulding Physical Therapy today and speak with our experts.

neck

How to Relieve Back and Neck Pain With a Healthy Spine

Do you suffer from aching back pain, nagging neck pain or even headaches? Having a healthy spine can prevent these types of problems. Your spine is a complicated structure of vertebrae, discs, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. Every second of every day your spine is moving in a delicate balance, even while you breathe! Take care of it and it will take care of you.

 

Here are useful tips on how to have a healthy spine:

 

Eat Right

Nutrition is critical to having a healthy body. The same goes for your spine. Protein

rebuilds spinal muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons. Healthy fruits and vegetables

contain the vitamins and antioxidants to make the spine function. They rebuild bone,

muscle and connective tissues that are constantly being used throughout the day.

 

Rest

Throughout the day your spine is compressed with standing, sitting and bending. You can actually lose about ½ an inch over the course of a day. Adequate rest in a good position while sleeping helps you maintain a healthy spine. It is ideal to start off lying in bed for the first 10 minutes on your side with your knees curled up. This allows the discs in your spine to rehydrate. Then continue sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs or roll onto your back with a pillow under your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

 

Stop Smoking

Many studies show that nicotine in cigarettes directly accelerates the breakdown of the discs in the spine and destroys connective tissues that keep the joints moving properly. In addition, nicotine increases the inflammatory response in the body, disrupting the body’s natural ability to repair itself.

 

Improve Your Flexibility and Strength

One of the best ways to avoid back pain or neck pain is to improve your spinal flexibility and strength. Your spine and body are designed to move. Keep your spine flexible by stretching for 10 minutes every day. It is best to get up and move around when possible at work. Stretch your spine out by reaching overhead and leaning over to one side, then the other. Also, work on gently twisting at the waist and don’t forget to stretch your hamstring muscles frequently. Spend 3-4 days a week working on your core strength with abdominal muscle exercises, squats and other exercises to keep your spine and core muscles strong. This supports your spine and allows you to move without stressing the discs or nerves in your back.

 

Improve Your Posture and Balance

Make sure that you sit properly with a straight-backed chair and your feet flat on

the floor. Avoid sitting on very soft couches for prolonged periods as this keeps your

spine in a flexed position. Make sure that you keep your spine straight when lifting,

using your legs and avoiding twisting. Keep your balance tip-top to activate the small muscles of the spine and use your nervous system. Enhance your balance by standing on one leg at a time for 10 seconds 3-4 times a week.

 

Have a Spine Check-up

Have a physical therapist spine specialist check your spine alignment and function

every 6 months to ensure your back is moving how it should. Our physical therapists are the medical experts in helping your back operate as it should and relieving back pain or neck pain quickly.

 

If you are suffering with backaches and pains, come in to Spaulding Physical Therapy for a check-up sooner rather than later. Long term aches and pains can mean permanent damage is being done to your spine. Catching back pain or neck pain early leads to a healthy spine for life!

shoulder-pain

Is Your Shoulder Pain Coming From the Rotator Cuff?

Have you ever felt a twinge in your shoulder when lifting something, or do you suffer from an aching shoulder at the end of the day? This could be a sign that your rotator cuff is weak and irritated. Various studies* show that 20% of people with shoulder pain after age 32 have a rotator cuff tear. This jumps up to 30% after age 40 and over 80% in people with shoulder pain after age 60.

 

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles that surround the glenohumeral joint in the shoulder. Their primary job is to guide the direction of the shoulder joint while the big muscles of your trapezius, latissimus dorsi and pectoralis muscles do the heavy lifting.

 

What happens when the rotator cuff is weak?

Since your rotator cuff is designed to guide the shoulder joint, when certain rotator cuff muscles are weak or injured, poor alignment occurs. The result is a jamming effect of the ball end of the humerus into the socket of your shoulder blade. Over time this causes inflammation and weakness that increases with overhead motion. Your arm may feel weak with lifting overhead or painful after doing repetitive activities such as scrubbing, driving or working on a computer.

 

How does a rotator cuff tear happen?

There are various degrees of rotator cuff tears and many people have them without many symptoms. Rotator cuff tears are usually partial tears, but can become full tears with a fall onto the arm or with lifting a heavy object overhead. Small tears usually occur from poor posture of the shoulder joint or heavy lifting over a period of time. The small partial tearing is similar to the analogy of a rope fraying over time, until one day the rope snaps.

 

What can be done to help shoulder pain from a rotator cuff?

  • See a physical therapist first. We have specialized training on how to test for rotator cuff tears and address the root cause of the problem, alleviating pain and restoring function. MRI’s and other tests should be done only after an exam, or if your doctor determines a need for one.
  • Use ice to alleviate the swelling in the shoulder. Use an icepack for 10 minutes on your shoulder with a towel wrapped around it so it will not hurt your skin. Do this 2-3 times a day.
  • Have good posture. Make sure you are standing or sitting tall, which will help your shoulder fall into a better position. Our physical therapists can also show you specific posture exercises to restore your posture.
  • Gently exercise. Swinging your arm in a gentle circle, while dangling down is soothing for the shoulder. However, be careful when exercising the shoulder and see your physical therapist for the correct exercises to perform, based off your condition.

 

What if my pain continues?

It is important that you don’t let shoulder pain go on more than a week. You should see a physical therapist to determine what is exactly causing your pain or determine if you have a tear after an injury. It is possible that you may need an additional follow up with a physician for cortisone injections or medication. However, most cases of rotator cuff injuries or shoulder pain can be easily treated with physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to repair the torn rotator cuff.

 

You don’t have to live with shoulder pain and since rotator cuff tears are common as we get older, it is important that you have the right professional examine your shoulder. Trust our physical therapy experts to evaluate your problem thoroughly and put you on the right treatment plan to a pain free shoulder. Call Spaulding Physical Therapy today to speak with one of our physical therapists about your shoulder pain and return to the activities you love to do.

 

*http://www.wheelessonline.com/ortho/rotator_cuff_tears_frequency_of_tears

back-pain

How to Protect Your Back

Have you ever felt low back pain after doing too much the day before? One of the major causes of low back pain is repetitive injury to the spine. Repetitive injuries can be as simple as picking up boxes or having to bend down to scrub and clean the house.

 

We often feel that we have done too much and then experience some aches or soreness that goes away in a day or two. However, your body is telling you that there is straining and microscopic tearing of muscle tissue, causing inflammation.

 

Are your back and abdominal muscles as strong as they use to be? With hours of sitting each day at work, watching TV or driving, your gluteus muscles and abdominal muscles become weak. These critical muscles give stability to your spine. When you challenge your body with repetitive bending or lifting, your gluteus, abdominal and spinal muscles just can’t cope like they use to, straining your spine. Therefore, minor damage to the spine results. Over years of repetitive strains, this can lead to major damage such as herniated discs, arthritis and chronic back or posture issues.

 

What can you do to protect your back?

 

  • Stay active! By simply walking 20-30 minutes today, you can significantly increase the strength and mobility of your spine, stopping back pain.
  • Lift and bend properly. Keep your back straight when bending down to the floor, using your legs. When you need to lift something, make sure your body is close to the object, tighten your abdominal muscles, use your legs and don’t twist.
  • Have good posture. This is especially important when sitting at your desk for extended periods of time. If you need to, roll up a very small towel and place it in the curve of your lower back. Keep the chair close enough so that you are able to sit up straight while looking at a computer monitor.
  • Stand tall. A bad habit these days is to hold your phone down low and look down at it while you are browsing on it. Hold your phone further up in front of you so that your spine is not bent forward when standing.
  • Take breaks. One of the best ways to prevent low back pain is to take frequent standing breaks from sitting, alternating your position. About every 20-30 minutes, get up and move around for 1 minute.
  • Stretch. Stretch throughout the day, especially your hamstrings as these directly pull on your pelvis, affecting your spine. Also, reach above your head to stretch out your shoulders, mid and upper back.
  • Have a regular check up. Don’t forget to visit your physical therapist. You go for regular check ups at your dentist or doctor, but why not your physical therapist? We are the mechanics of your body, keeping it running and moving well. Yearly check-ups are key to keeping a healthy, moving spine.

 

You take care of your heart and lungs, but what about your spine? As anyone with back pain will tell you, life is very limited with a bad back. Therefore, take care of it and it will take care of you.

 

There is much that can be done to relieve sciatica, back or neck pain. Physical therapy should always be tried first if your back pain keeps on coming back. Discover how our back and neck program can give you the fast relief you deserve and restore your active life. Call Spaulding Physical Therapy today to speak with one of our physical therapy specialists about your back pain.

 

sciatica-pain

Tips for Relieving Sciatica Pain

Do you have back pain or sciatica? In a study reported in the journal Orthopedics, 650 people were examined for low back pain or sciatica. About 25% had reported an episode of sciatica in the past 6 months of the study. This shows how common sciatica really is. Sciatica is a term used to describe pain in the buttock or radiating down the leg that is caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve. There are many causes of back pain that can radiate pain down the leg, such as a herniated disc. However, true sciatica is specific to the sciatic nerve being irritated or compressed. This can occur in the back or in the buttock.

 

Symptoms of sciatica

Sciatica typically presents as aching pain to the buttock traveling to the back or side of the thigh. It can also present with numbness or tingling. In severe cases, extreme pain and weakness in the leg may result, causing a “buckling” sensation to the leg.

 

What can be done to help sciatica?

It is important to treat the cause of the sciatica and not the symptoms. Medication may help to numb the pain and decrease the inflammation, but it does not treat the cause of the pressure or irritation on the sciatic nerve. Here are important tools for you to relieve sciatica pain:

 

  1. Change your position frequently. Many episodes of sciatica stem from prolonged sitting, poor posture and weak core muscles. If you have a flare-up of sciatica, make sure to alternate between sitting, standing and lying down positions. Try alternating every 15 minutes if possible.  
  2. Do not sit for long periods. Sitting causes increased pressure on the sciatica nerve as it travels below the gluteus muscles down to the leg. Avoid sitting on a soft couch for a long time or hard chairs. If you can, try walking 10-15 minutes outside or on a treadmill at a comfortable speed.
  3. Improve your hip mobility and strength. Our hips move through a very large range of motion. However, with frequent sitting throughout the day at a computer or watching TV, our ligaments and muscles around the hips tighten up, leading to loss of motion. While this loss of motion may not appear obvious, it does change the stress and strain on your spine. Improve your hip mobility and strength to relieve the pressure on the sciatica nerve. Talk to one of our physical therapists about which exercises are safe to improve your hip flexibility and strength.
  4. Increase your spine flexibility safely. Having a strong, flexible spine is critical to your overall health and performance. However, knowing the right exercises for your sciatica or back pain is very important, as further damage could result if exercises are done improperly. This is where the expertise of a physical therapist can significantly help you. With years of training in medicine and medical exercise programs, our therapists know the right path of gentle hands on treatments and exercises needed to help your problem.
  5. Get help from an expert. If you have been suffering with sciatica for more than 3 days, then you need to get help, before long-term damage occurs. Sciatica is a disease of the musculoskeletal system. The medical experts in treating the musculoskeletal system are physical therapists. Therefore, seeing a physical therapist early is critical to a swift recovery and preventing future episodes of back pain or sciatica. Even if you have suffered for years, we can help.

 

There is much that can be done to relieve your sciatica or back pain. Physical therapy is the first line of natural treatment to a successful recovery. Discover how our back and neck program can give you the quick relief you deserve without the need for pills. Call Spaulding Physical Therapy today to speak with one of our specialists about your sciatica or back pain.

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23218636

neck-pain

Tips for Relieving Neck Pain

Do you find yourself with a nagging neck or headache, especially after a long day or stressful event? The American Academy of Pain Medicine reports that neck pain and severe headaches or migraines make up about 30% of all commonly reported pain conditions. There are many reasons for neck pain, but the majority of episodes are caused by the following:

  • Poor posture
  • Weak shoulder and neck muscles
  • Stress
  • Injury
  • Arthritis

While many of us will take over the counter medication, such as Advil, to numb the pain, the main source of the problem is still present. This will cause repeating episodes that can become worse and worse with time. If you have to take medication more than 2-3 times a week for neck pain or headaches, then you need to do something about it.

Here are simple solutions to nagging neck pain or headache problems:

  1. Increase your shoulder strength. Focus on increasing the strength in the muscles of the middle back. Typically the lower and middle trapezius muscles become weak, making the upper trapezius muscles overwork and become very tight.
  2. Improve your posture. The center of gravity through your body actually starts at the upper part of your neck. If you sit slouched at a computer during the day or hunched over a desk, your neck muscles have to hold the weight of your head up for extended periods. Overtime, the muscles in the middle back become stretched out and weak, making the muscles of the neck overwork. This causes the neck muscles to become tight and irritated.
  3. Improve your flexibility. Over 60% of the ability to turn your head comes from the upper neck. This is an area that becomes tight with poor posture, thus losing mobility and flexibility. Perform gentle stretching exercises throughout the day. Our physical therapists can show you the right exercises to help you.
  4. Drink enough water. Many headaches are actually triggered by dehydration. Even though you may drink coffee, sodas or energy drinks, these types of drinks actually cause you to lose water throughout the day. Water is needed to keep your muscles well hydrated and your brain functioning normally. Keep a bottle of water within reach throughout the day and sip away.
  5. Get professional help. If you find yourself with an aching neck or upper back on a frequent basis, you should seek the help of a physical therapist. Aches and pains are your body’s way of telling you of an underlying problem. Dealing with chronic neck pain can lead to chronic changes in your bones and muscles over time, making the problem much worse. Our medical experts examine your posture, alignment, stability, flexibility and strength to find the cause of your neck pain or headache. Our soothing physical therapy treatments then help quickly relieve your pain, restore your flexibility, posture and strength.

 

There is much that can be done to relieve your neck pain, headache or migraine. Physical therapy is the first line of natural treatment to a successful recovery. Discover how our back and neck program can give you the relief you deserve without the need for pills. Call Spaulding Physical Therapy today to speak with one of our specialists about your pain.