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direct access myths

Direct Access Myths That Prevent You From Getting The Best Care Possible

Direct access myths prevent you from getting the best care possible. Have you heard of direct access? Understanding what it is can make a difference in the level of care that you receive for your health. Knowing the myths and truths surrounding direct access can change and enhance the care you receive.

Basically stated, direct access gives you access to a physical therapist of your choice, without having to obtain a prescription from a referring physician. There are many benefits of direct access.

These include:

  • Gives you a chance to develop a collaborative healthcare team that works for you
  • Save time and money by not having to go elsewhere for unnecessary referrals
  • Allows you to have better access to the care that you need

[Related article: Direct Access Physical Therapy In Arizona]

Direct Access Myths and Truths

While there are several benefits, there are also several direct access myths. Here are a few of those along with the associated truths.

Myth: Insurance won’t cover you without a referral.

The truth is that as is the case with any type of coverage, it is important to verify benefits in advance of your appointment. It is common for insurance companies to cover your visit to a physical therapist, even without a referral.

Myth: My doctor will not like for me to see someone without a referral.

The truth is that your physical therapist is willing to work collaboratively with other members of the healthcare community to help provide you with the best care. Each medical professional has their own area of expertise. 

A physical therapist is one of the best to help treat conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system. He or she will work with your doctor to ensure you are receiving the best care possible for your condition.

Myth: I have to go to where my doctor refers me. 

The truth is that with direct access you are able to make the decision on who the best physical therapist is for you. While your doctor can provide insight into your choices, you should still feel free to make your own well-informed decisions about where you receive your physical therapy.

Learning these direct access myths can be empowering, once you know the truths associated with them. It can empower your healthcare making decisions.

You have choices and the team at Contact Physical Therapy would love to help you the next time you or someone you love is in need of physical therapy.
Call us at 480.396.2781 or connect with us online here.
how to make it through the holidays in a healthy way

How To Make It Through The Holidays In A Healthy Way

Are you worried about still making healthful decisions over the holidays and wondering how to make it through the holidays in a healthy way?

Regardless of the time of the year, your body still needs a few key things: proper nutrition, adequate amounts of exercise and sleep, as well as manageable stress levels. It is easy to find ourselves making the excuse that the holidays are a time to indulge. If we do this, we might end up throwing all our good habits and health goals right out the window.

But, the holidays don’t have to be this way. There are ways to enjoy the holidays and still stay healthy. Your body still needs nutrition. Your body still needs movement and activity. Keep these things in mind and you will be proud of the healthy choices you have made throughout the holidays once they are over.

How To Make It Through The Holidays In A Healthy Way

Here are three tips for making it through the holidays in a healthy way.

Have a protein packed breakfast each morning

Have a protein packed breakfast every morning, especially on the days of a big holiday meal. Good sources of protein include eggs, Greek yogurt and of course meat. 

Starting your day with a meal full of protein helps to steady your appetite as the day goes on. This helps you to avoid uncontrollable hunger later in the day. Otherwise you might be tempted to reach for unhealthy sweets or snacks just in an attempt to stay full. 

If you decide to start your day with cereal for breakfast, beware! This causes a rise in blood sugar, followed by a crash and then you will be hungrier as the day goes on. So, pack your breakfast full of protein.

[Related article: Four Healthy Holiday Foods]

Stay in tune with your workout routine

If this seems difficult to do on the days when you have family activities going on, grab a few people after the big meal and go for a walk around the neighborhood. You’ll be enjoying exercise and quality time together as a family, while still maintaining some physical activity.

[Related article: The 3-Minute Holiday Workout To Stay On Your Fitness Schedule]

Keep stress under control

We often underestimate the toll that stress can take on us and our health. With added obligations, family demands, shopping, and bills, the holidays seem to only add to our stress. 

Make sure to keep taking care of yourself. Get the proper amount of sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Set your priorities and realize what you need to do versus what you can let go of. Or, ask for help where you need it during this busy time.

[Related article: How To Deal With Holiday Stress]

Learning how to make it through the holidays in a healthy way is so important for many reasons. It only takes a few days off from your healthy routine, and a few bad decisions, to set the stage for more to come. Practice good self-discipline and you will learn how to make it through the holidays in a healthy way.

If your plan after the holidays is to get a healthy start to the new year, you may benefit from working with the expertise offered by a physical therapist. 
Call us at 480.396.2781 or connect with us online here.
prevent lower back pain

Does Strengthening The Core Prevent Lower Back Pain?

If you have had it before, you probably already know that learning how to prevent lower back pain is better than suffering through it and trying to treat it. 

If you have heard in the past that a weak core leads to back pain, and you suffer from back pain, this could sound discouraging. No one likes the thought of having to work on their core because it likely also induces the feeling of more pain. If you are already hurting, you don’t want to work on the area that is hurting and make it hurt more. 

You are looking for relief. So you will be glad to know that some recent studies are showing that exercise — in general — is just as effective for lower back pain as certain core strength exercises.

What Is Considered The Core?

Most medical professionals will include these when describing what comprises the core:

  • Muscles in front (abs)
  • Side (obliques)
  • The trunk muscle (transverse abdominis)
  • Back muscles along the spine
  • The diaphragm
  • Pelvic floor muscles

Some medical professionals also include the glutes as part of the core.

In theory, when these muscles are weak, your body cannot rely on them for strength and support. So instead, your body resorts to using bones and ligaments (the soft-tissue that connects the bones) to support itself. This is when pain can set in.

Prevent Lower Back Pain

Still, you may see benefit from working on your core muscles. You will want to work with a professional, such as your physical therapist, to identify the correct way of performing the prescribed stretches and exercises. Otherwise you may end up injuring yourself further.

[Related article: Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain]

He or she can also help you create a general exercise program to prevent lower back pain and promote good overall health.

A physical therapist is an expert when it comes to musculoskeletal issues, and is one of the most qualified healthcare experts to help address lower back pain.

[Related article: Lower Back Pain Treatment Options]

If you are suffering from lower back pain, a physical therapist at Contact Physical Therapy can help identify the exact cause of your lower back pain and help to determine a treatment program that addresses that specific issue and helps you get to feeling better.

Contact us today.

IT band syndrome

IT Band Syndrome Symptoms and Treatment

If you are a runner, you may already be familiar with what IT band syndrome is. The iliotibial (IT) band, runs alongside the knee. You are most at risk of developing IT band syndrome if you are engaged in activities that require your knee to bend over and over again. Some examples of this are climbing, cycling, and swimming. It is also a common running injury.

However, you don’t have to be a runner to experience this injury. If you have just started exercising, you may experience this too.

When subjected to overuse, the IT band gets tight and is more likely to rub along the knee. This is when you will feel pain and may experience swelling from the condition

If left untreated, this condition can get worse. You may need to take a break from the activity or sport that is causing you pain, and visit a physical therapist for a course of action to help you recover.

IT Band Syndrome Symptoms

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is possible that you may have IT band syndrome. Symptoms include: 

  • pain on the outside of your knee when practicing your favorite sport and also afterwards
  • a feeling of clicking alongside the knee where the IT band is
  • your knee feels sensitive when you touch it
  • glutes feel tender
  • outer knee is red and/or warm
  • ache or burn that goes from the knee up to the thigh and/or hip

This condition can affect one or both knees.

How Runners Can Prevent IT Band Syndrome

If you are a runner, be aware of the terrain you are running on as this could have an impact on developing this condition. Uneven terrain and/or running downhill both make you more at risk for developing this. Also if you run in shoes that need to be replaced, it can make you more likely to get this.

IT Band Syndrome Treatment

If you are suffering from this, see a physical therapist. Physical therapy efforts will focus on reducing your pain and preventing further injury. Your physical therapist may start with recommending rest from the activity, ice, massage, stretching, and other physical therapy treatments that will help the IT band heal.

A physical therapist at Contact Physical Therapy will show you the proper way to do exercises to help you heal and prevent further injury to your IT band. With proper treatment this condition will improve and you can get back to enjoying your favorite activities.

To begin reducing the symptoms of your IT band syndrome and get back to enjoying the activities that you love, contact us today.

lower back pain treatment options

Lower Back Pain Treatment Options

Lower Back Pain Treatment Options

What is the first thing you do when your lower back starts to hurt? Do you reach for an over the counter medication to ease the pain? While that may provide brief relief, it does not solve the problem and your lower back pain can frequently reoccur.

A safer treatment option for lower back pain is physical therapy, but how often have you thought of that as a first line of defense to feeling better — and feeling better permanently?

In addition to medications, maybe surgery has been recommended to you. While in some cases, this is needed, you may also want to consider other options such as physical therapy. 

Physical therapy can help not only identify the cause of your lower back pain, but help you heal in a safe way without drugs and side effects. There are lots of ways that physical therapy is a great option for lower back pain treatment.

Lower Back Pain Treatment Options

Physical therapy is a great treatment option when it comes to lower back pain as it is non-invasive. It should be tried as a non-surgical treatment option before surgery is considered in most cases.

[Related article: Common Causes of Lower Back Pain]

Its goals are to decrease your pain, improve your function, and prevention of further back pain issues.

When it comes to physical therapy, there is passive or active physical therapy.

Passive physical therapy includes treatments that the physical therapist can do to help your back pain. These include manual therapy, heat, ice, and/or a TENS unit. Passive physical therapy aims to work on the muscles and soft tissues.

Active physical therapy includes things that you participate in yourself. The ways that you move your body impact your pain and healing and can prevent future problems. For example, one cause of lower back pain could be core instability. Strengthening the core provides additional support for the lower back and can prevent pain. Exercising and stretching will be a large part of the active physical therapy portion of your treatment.

When To See a Physical Therapist For Lower Back Pain

If your lower back pain has lasted anywhere from a couple weeks to over a month, visit your physical therapist. If it occurs frequently or if it is severe, visit your physical therapist.

Your back pain could be connected to other parts of the body, including other muscles. Your physical therapist can show you specifically what will help your lower back pain, based on the cause that he or she is able to help identify for you.

If you have had back surgery, physical therapy can also help. Our physical therapists can help tailor lower back pain treatment options that are right for you.

To take a step toward living a life with no more back pain, contact us today.

national physical therapy month

4 Reasons Why National Physical Therapy Month Matters To You

As a team of physical therapists, we are happy to share with you that this month is National Physical Therapy Month! However, even more important to you is knowing how that impacts your life and why it matters to your health.

Day in and day out we work closely with our patients and see firsthand the benefits that physical therapy has on each of our patients, on their health and in their lives. We can’t help but share these things with you so that you can experience them too.

Why National Physical Therapy Month Matters To You

A physical therapist is an expert in the movement of the body, helping you live an optimal life, pain free by providing treatment, care, and education. 

There are long-term health benefits to working with a physical therapist. Not to mention the fact that he or she can help you to get out of pain. They can also help you prevent further problems and pain from occurring.

National Physical Therapy Month brings all of these things into the spotlight. Here are four reasons why National Physical Therapy Month matters to you.

Reason #1

Physical therapy provides a way to stay healthy and active and keep your body moving and functioning properly.

Reason #2

Direct access to your physical therapist means no red tape to go through to enlist the help of this healthcare professional who is on your side.

Reason #3

Physical therapy can be an important tool and resource in your life for healing, beyond drugs and prescription medications, which can carry dangerous side effects.

Reason #4

Physical therapy and your physical therapist both empower you to take your healthcare choices into your own hands, and gives you more options apart from drugs and surgery.

More than anything else, Contact Physical Therapy and the American Physical Therapy Association want you to know that physical therapy is available to you as a way to manage pain effectively without the use of drugs such as opioids for chronic pain.

Our physical therapists are on your side when it comes to living life without pain that is holding you back from what you love. 

To schedule a consultation, contact us today.

common causes of lower back pain

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

If you are experiencing one of the common causes of lower back pain, you are not alone. Lower back pain will affect most of us in our lifetime. 

While some common causes of lower back pain will heal with treatment and time, others may not. The good news is that physical therapy can help treat or alleviate the pain from many common causes of lower back pain.

[Related Article: Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain]

Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

If you are experiencing lower back pain, it may be due to one of these common causes:

  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Strained muscle
  • Ligament sprain
  • Herniated disc

[Related article: Sciatica Pain and What To Do About It]

Lower back pain can happen suddenly or gradually over time. Most of the time when you are experiencing a lower back issue it is due to the mechanics of your body and/or a soft tissue injury.

Those types of injuries can damage the discs, compress nerves and not allow the joints in the spine to move properly. All of these things cause you pain.

An example of this type of injury would be stretching muscles and ligaments too far, which can lead to sprains and strains. These types of injuries may be caused by lifting, twisting, falling, bad posture, and/or injuries. These you can heal from.

Others, are chronic causes of lower back pain, such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet joint dysfunction
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Compression fracture

There could be other causes of lower back pain related to other things happening in the body, although these are less common.

For many of these conditions, physical therapy can help to alleviate many common causes of lower back pain. Our physical therapists can help tailor a program that is right for you and help to alleviate many common causes of lower back pain. To get started, contact us today.

degenerative disc disease

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can happen in the neck or back. It is often considered a normal part of aging. Some people have degenerative disc disease and do not have any pain or symptoms at all. For other people, pain may be the first sign that you are suffering from this condition.

Degenerative Disc Disease: How Does It Happen?

Discs sit in between the vertebrae in your spine. In this position, they act as a cushion for the vertebrae, and also act to help hold together your spine and allow it to bend and move slightly.

They contain mostly water when we are born. Over time, the discs lose their hydration. Because there is no direct blood supply to the discs, they do not have the ability to heal. That — combined with the nerves that run closely through your spine — is why degenerative disc disease may become painful.

People more at risk for degenerative disc disease include those who are overweight, smoke, demonstrate a lack of exercise, or complete intense physical work regularly.

Signs & Symptoms Of Degenerative Disc Disease

Here are several common signs and symptoms that may indicate you have degenerative disc disease:

  • Numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms and legs
  • Pain that seems worse first thing in the morning
  • Pain that seems worse after staying in a position for a long time
  • Pain that seems worse after sitting, bending, or reaching
  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs

Degenerative disc disease does not just happen in the spine. It can also happen in the neck. If it does, you may be noticing pain in the neck, arm, and/or shoulder.

DDD can be diagnosed through imaging.

Can Physical Therapy Help Degenerative Disc Disease?

Yes! Physical therapy can help degenerative disc disease in the following ways:

  • PT can teach you how to strengthen your core to take some pressure off of your spine and help reduce pain.

[Related article: 3 Stretches For Lower Back Pain]

  • A physical therapist can show you safe ways to exercise to reduce weight if being overweight has been a contributing factor.
  • A physical therapist can perform manual therapy to help alleviate points of pain from joints and muscles.
  • Your physical therapist can teach you about body mechanics and how you can move differently to help alleviate your pain.

If left untreated, this condition may worsen or your pain may be recurring. Our physical therapists can help tailor a program that is right for you and help to lessen the effects of DDD on your body and help to alleviate pain. 

To get started, contact us today.

stay safe in the desert summer

Tips To Stay Safe In The Desert Summer Heat

Tips To Stay Safe In The Desert Summer Heat

Does summer feel like it is dragging on? Are you getting cabin fever? Are you tired of not being able to go outside and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities?

The dangers of the Arizona summer desert heat are real and keeping your entire family safe (including your pets!) this summer is important.

Effects of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke can be dangerous. However, there are several things you can do to help everyone in your family stay safe in the desert summer this season.

Of course, stay inside as much as you can to stay out of the heat and stay cool, but also follow these tips to help everyone in your family stay healthy and safe this summer.

3 Tips To Stay Safe In The Desert Summer Heat

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated can mean more than just drinking water. There are some foods that can help you stay hydrated as well. Try watermelon, cucumber, coconut water or other foods that help you stay hydrated.

Go out early or late

Run errands early in the day or late at night. If you must go out, try to go early or late — not in the heat of the day.

Clothing matters

Wear light-colored that isn’t tight, but fits loosely around you. This will go a long way in helping to keep you cool.

Also remember to keep your pets out of the heat, keep them cool and keep them hydrated too. They are important members of the family!

The entire staff at Contact Physical Therapy is here to help with the health of your entire family. If there is more than just the desert summer heat keeping you indoors — such as injury or surgery recovery — and keeping you from enjoying your favorite activities, contact the team at Contact Physical Therapy

Our physical therapists can help tailor a program that is right for you and get you back to living the life you love. To get started, contact us today.

stretches for lower back pain

Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints from patients. Almost all Americans will experience it in their lifetimes. In fact, statistics show up to 80% will experience it at some point in life.

It does not have to be something that you live with. Depending on the cause, you may benefit from physical therapy to help alleviate your lower back symptoms and pain. In the meantime, some gentle stretching at home may also help. Here are three stretches for lower back pain.

Three Stretches For Lower Back Pain

Knee to Chest

Begin this exercise by lying on your back on the floor with your legs extended and your arms on the floor at your side. Next, bend your left knee so that your left foot is flat on the ground next to your right knee. Wrap your hand around your left knee and slowly bring it in toward your chest. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute and then gently release. Repeat the same on the other side. Complete this stretch for each leg three times or as recommended by your physical therapist.

[Related article: Sciatica Pain and What To Do About It]

Forward Bend

Begin this exercise sitting on the ground with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Use an exercise band (or towel) to help you reach forward and wrap the band around the soles of your feet and grab the band on each side. This will support you as you then gently bend forward with the goal of putting your forehead toward your knees. Keep your back as straight as possible. Do not go to the point of pain. You should just feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and after a brief rest, repeat several times or as recommended by your physical therapist.

Child’s Pose

If you are a fan of yoga, you are probably familiar with child’s pose. Begin this pose on the floor on your hands and knees. Gently sit back, placing your glutes on your heels. Then, bend forward at the hips, extending your palms and arms straight out on the ground in front of you. Your forehead should be touching the ground and your torso should be resting on your thighs. Hold this pose for as long as you would like, although one minute is recommended.

Whether it is these stretches for lower back pain or others, the physical therapists at Contact Physical Therapy can help tailor a program that is right for you to help alleviate your lower back pain.

To get started, contact us today.