Painkillers vs. Physical Therapy For Lower Back Pain

  • Home
  • Archive by category "Common Injuries"

painkillers

Painkillers vs. Physical Therapy For Lower Back Pain

Did you know that lower back pain is a close second to the common cold in a list of ailments driving Americans to the doctor’s office? Yes, that’s right. If you have pain in your lower back that you have been ignoring, you are not alone. In the past, heading in to see your doctor about lower back pain would often lead to costly imaging, opioids and even surgery. Opioids are drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain, also known as painkillers. Continued use and abuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. That’s why many patients today are considering physical therapy in the treatment of their lower back pain as opposed to painkillers.

Recent guidelines have been put in place by the American College of Physicians to steer doctors away from writing scripts for painkillers, in favor of noninvasive treatments such as physical therapy. This is great news not just for physical therapists, but because the use of painkillers puts patients at a high risk of developing an addiction. With these guidelines in place, painkillers will be reserved as a last resort treatment option, and only in patients who have failed other interventions.

Not all lower back pain is created equal, which is why it is so beneficial to work with a physical therapist to relieve pain. Causes and symptoms vary from person to person. A physical therapist is able to put together treatment plans that are tailored specifically to their patient. A physical therapist begins with a patient evaluation to identify the factors contributing to a patient’s specific back program and will individualize the program based on the results and observations.

About 25% of Americans report incidences of lower back pain lasting at least one day in the past three months, according to Annals of Internal Medicine. If you are in that 25%, you know that living with pain can be a real pain, which is why our physical therapists are so passionate about helping their patients relieve pain and get back to living the life they love. If you are currently experiencing lower back pain, schedule a complimentary injury screening with one of our experienced physical therapists today!

Carpal tunnel

5 Tips For Preventing Or Easing Carpal Tunnel Pain

The reality of today’s world is that our lives pretty much revolve around the use of computers and smart phones. In fact, a Nielsen Company audience report released last year reveals that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of 2016. So, what does this mean for our health? It certainly means an increased chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Along with pregnancy and various illnesses such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, making the same hand or wrist movements over and over, especially if the wrist is bent down, is a leading cause of carpal tunnel.

It can be difficult to avoid the use of these devices, especially if your job requires you to spend most of your day on the computer. We decided to put together a few tips for preventing or easing the pain of carpal tunnel.

Relax your grip –

If you consistently spend a lot of time writing, try using a pen with an oversized, soft grip to help loosen your grip on your pen.

Take frequent breaks –

Take time to gently stretch your wrists throughout the day and alternate tasks requiring different movements when possible.

Watch your form –

Incorrect posture or wrist placement can be damaging. Avoid bending your wrists all the way up or down, a relaxed middle position with your keyboard at elbow height or slightly lower is best. Avoid rolling your shoulders forward.

Keep Your Hands Warm –

Consistently working in a chilly room can lead to stiffness in the hands, which can lead to soreness. Do whatever you can to keep your hands warm, even if it means bringing some fingerless gloves into the office.

Take Up Yoga –

Anything that builds strength or promotes flexibility is great for your physical health in general, yoga is a great option because it is low impact and can help relieve pain and keep your wrists flexible.

It is always best to be proactive when it comes to your physical health. If you already have carpal tunnel these tips are great for helping to reduce pain, if you are unsure if the aches and pains you are experiencing are a result of carpal tunnel, contact us today to schedule a complimentary injury assessment with one of our experienced therapists.
Physical Therapy

6 Ways To Determine If You Need Physical Therapy

Have you ever thought to yourself, “should I wait and see or go visit a PT?” We get it, it is difficult to know if the injury is serious and requires a visit to a physical therapist. Which is why we decided to put together six ways to determine when it is time to see a physical therapist.

  1. Lingering pain – When you first notice an ache or pain, especially if it is a sports injury, spend 20 minutes several times a day icing the affected area. If the pain lingers after three or four days of resting and icing, it is time to see a physical therapist.
  2. Reoccurring dull pain – Pain should subside after rest and icing, but if the injury is more serious symptoms will repeatedly come back until the underlying injury has been addressed.
  3. One traumatic event – Some injuries are easy to spot, like a muscle tear or broken bone caused by one traumatic event – if this is the case, you are going to want to come in and get it checked out.
  4. Pain medication does not help the pain – If over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relief drugs are not relieving your pain, it is time to get it checked out.
  5. Pain is acute and sharp – If the pain is sharp and centralized it can be an indication of a more serious injury such as a muscle pull or stress fracture, it is definitely a good idea to see a physical therapist.
  6. Noticeable or visible changes – You know your body best, if something feels off it is never a bad idea to seek professional opinion.

At the end of the day, you have one body to carry you through the rest of your life if you are even considering the fact that you might need to see a physical therapist it is better to be safe than sorry. Here at Contact Physical Therapy we are committed to helping you live your best life, if you are unsure if you need physical therapy come in for a complimentary injury screen. Contact Us today to schedule with one of our experienced physical therapists!

Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention Tips For Seniors

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans? It’s true, these falls can result in minor injures such as sprains and bruises, but can also result in more sever injuries. The best way to help avoid this risk is to be proactive, educate yourself on fall prevention and to understand the internal and external risks that can lead to balance problems.

Internal falling risks have a lot to do with having good balance, when stationary and when in movement.

Balance is affected by vision, which allows us to see our environment, and the vestibular system, which provides the brain with sensory information about motion, equilibrium and spatial orientation. The musculoskeletal system, which allows us movement and mobility through the use of our skeletal system, joints and muscles/soft tissue, and the somatosensory system, which provides self-awareness of our body’s position in our environment also have an impact on balance.

These systems become increasingly important to maintain as we age. If any of them become impaired it can lead to dizziness, vertigo, swaying and imbalance. Balance problems can also lead to feelings of fear and frustration, which can affect a persons willingness to participate in daily activities. Frustration can cause a person to avoid activities they once enjoyed, which leads to a less active lifestyle, and a lifestyle that restricts movement will weaken the muscles and can magnify existing issues.

Environmental or external falling risks can also increase an elderly person’s risk of falling.

Examples include cords, rugs, stars, improper or lack of use of needed assistive devices, inappropriate footwear and walking on uneven surfaces such as grass or sidewalks. Proper lighting is also something to consider when examining the safety level of a home. As we age our visual system declines and our need for proper lighting increasingly important. Be sure that your home has proper lighting and that light switches are easily accessible.

How can physical therapy help with fall prevention?

As mentioned above, the best way to help avoid risk is to be proactive. Physical therapists are a great resource for helping improve safety and mobility. They will be able to evaluate your balance, vestibular system, posture, range of motion, flexibility, strength and other factors that may impact your likelihood of being injured by a fall. After collecting this information they will be able to put together and exercise program and treatment plan that targets specific areas in need of improvement.

Our experienced physical therapists have the vital education needed to help decrease both internal and environmental risks, and help older Americans get back to living the life they love with confidence. If you believe that you or someone you know is at risk of falling related injuries, be proactive and schedule an evaluation with us today!

arthritis

5 Simple Habits For Arthritis Pain Relief

This month is Arthritis Awareness Month so naturally we wanted to take some time to help you understand some simple things you can do to take charge of your arthritis pain. While you might think you have little control over the pain you are experiencing, some of your daily habits may actually be making that pain worse. Let’s take a look at a few habits that can make a difference when living with arthritis.

  1. Weight control: If your weight is slightly increasing, believe it or not, this could be a major culprit of the increased pain in your aching knees. Carrying extra weight means extra strain on your joints, which leads to the wear and tear that characterizes osteoarthritis. Losing just 10 pounds could make a difference.
  2. Get up and get moving: It is definitely important to not over do it, pushing yourself too hard could put you at risk for joint injury and increased joint pain. But if lounging around is a daily habit for you, it may actually be adding to your joint pain. Arthritis pain can make it difficult to get started on an exercise plan, but it is so important that you do so. One of our experienced physical therapists can help you make a plan to get your activity back on track
  3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: Inflammation in your body could be a possible cause of increased pain. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can help play a role in arthritis pain relief. Cold water fish, like tuna or salmon, are great options and have been found to be beneficial because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  4. Get good sleep: This can be a vicious cycle. Lack of sleep can lead to pain including joint pain, while joint pain can lead to trouble sleeping. This is something you should talk to your therapist about. Pain control can help make sleep possible.
  5. Reduce Stress: This is another one of those vicious cycles. Aching knees and joint pain can certainly add stress to your life, but stress can also make your arthritis pain worse. If you are stressed, overall tension in your body can be greater which magnifies joint and muscle pain. Consider creating daily stress relief habits to let some of that stress go. Meditation, massage, acupuncture or anything that makes you feel relaxed can be a big help.

Don’t let arthritis stop you from living your life. Take control of your arthritis pain and start implementing these simple habits into your daily routine. If you are unsure if physical therapy would be beneficial for you, schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced physical therapists. We are here to help you restore function, improve mobility, and get back to living the life you love. 

youth athlete safe

8 Tips To Help Keep Your Youth Athlete Safe

April is Youth Sports Safety Month! We highly encourage kids to participate in physical activity. Keeping your child active and strong can help set them up for a healthier future. We wanted to take some time this month to share a few tips for keeping your youth athletes safe.

  1. Be prepared:

    Before enrolling your child in a sport, make sure they receive a pre-participation physical.

  2. Meet the coach:

    Make sure that your child’s coach is appropriately experienced in supervising the sport, can provide proper direction in conditioning and injury prevention, and that they are prepared to perform first aid and CPR in case of emergency.

  3. Adequately train:

    Be sure that your child is in the right physical and psychological condition to play their chosen sport.

  4. Play by the rules:

    Be sure that your child is clear about the rules of the game. They are designed to keep athletes safe and organized.

  5. Wear protective equipment:

    Do not allow your child to play without the proper protective gear. Parents, do your research. Be sure that the equipment meets national standards, is in good condition and is properly fitted.

  6. Warm up, stretch and cool down:

    Be sure that your child is participating in low intensity cardiovascular activity to warm up their muscles, and that they properly stretch. Stretching can help minimize the chance of muscle strain or soft tissue injury. Cool down is necessary to loosen the muscles that may have tightened during exercise.

  7. Stay hydrated:

    Make sure your child is prepared with plenty of water during practice and games. It is also important that you help your child understand the importance of staying hydrated outside of practice and games. Click here for a few tips on ways to keep your kids hydrated.

  8. Don’t play if tired or in pain:

    Pay attention to how your child is feeling before practice or games. Be sure that they are properly rested, as fatigue can lead to injury or poor judgment. If they are experiencing pain, be safe and be sure to seek medical attention. If injured, make sure that they take enough time off – or they will run a greater risk for reinjury.

These are just a few of the things you can do to be proactive about your child’s safety. Being proactive is the best way to keep your child safe, and to avoid injury. If your little athlete is injured or in pain, do not hesitate to CONTACT US. Our experienced physical therapists can help them get back to feeling their best and participating in the activities that they love!

back pain

5 Ways You Can Soothe Lower Back Pain At Home

Lower back pain can be tricky to get rid of and may take a bit of trial and error to see what works best for you. There are a few things you can do on your own that can help soothe that pesky pain.

  1.     Strengthen your core –

    Your ab and back muscles help to support your lower spine. These muscles rarely get a good workout during a normal day, especially if you work in an office or spend most of your day sitting.  It is important to specifically target these muscles when working out. Even the simple act of sitting on an exercise ball for 30 minutes a day can help.

  1.     Stretch your hamstring –

    Tight hamstrings are an easily overlooked contributor to lower back pain. Try incorporating these hamstring exercises twice a day.

  1.     Soothe lower back pain with cold or hot –

    Applying an ice pack can help reduce inflammation and can slow down nerve impulses, which keeps the nerves from spasming and causing pain. Applying heat stimulates blood flow and brings healing nutrients to the affected area. It can also block the pain messages being sent to the brain.

  1.     Get some sleep –

    Pain can be a major culprit of insomnia and cause difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can actually make your back pain worse. Consider seeing a physical therapist to help you break this cycle.

  1.     Release endorphins in your body –

    This can be done through aerobic exercise, massage therapy or even meditation. Endorphins are a hormone made naturally in your body, and can be just as strong as pain medication. When endorphins are released in your body they help block pain signals to your brain. They can also help relieve anxiety, depression and stress; which can all contribute to lower back pain.

If your pain continues to persist or worsen, it would be a good idea to seek professional help. Let one of our experienced physical therapists help you get back to feeling your best, and living the life that you love. Contact us today!

sciatica an back pain during pregnancy

Find Relief From Sciatica Or Back Pain During Pregnancy

 

Pregnancy is an absolute miracle, but it can also cause additional stress on the body. It is important to be aware of the possible changes that occur during pregnancy and ways that you can help your body through the process. The typical changes that the body goes through include weight gain, a shift of one’s center of gravity and hormonal changes; adding back pain or sciatica to that list is not a welcome addition!

What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, individual nerve roots branch out from the spine and lower back and then combine to form the “sciatic nerve.” The term sciatica is used to describe symptoms of leg pain, and occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed.

How do I know if I have Sciatica?

Expecting mothers can experience burning, tingling, numbness or weakness that originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. Typically sciatica will occur in one leg, and can result in sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk. Most would assume that sitting down, or lying down, will provide relief from the pain – but in fact, the pain caused by sciatica can be worse when sitting down. Symptoms can be infrequent and irritating, or can even be constant and cause you to lose normal function of your body.

How do I find relief from back pain and sciatica?

Physical therapy can relieve the back and sciatic pain experienced during pregnancy in only a few sessions. Treatment typically includes two sessions a week for 2-3 weeks. Your physical therapist will also educate you on various stretches and exercises you can do at home to help alleviate pain and discomfort. With hands-on soft tissue work and various modalities, experienced physical therapists can help you enjoy this joyous time of your life, rather than suffer through it.

Are you experiencing back pain or sciatica during pregnancy? Contact us now. Our physical therapists are experienced in working with expecting mothers to relieve pain and get back to enjoying the miracle of pregnancy.

growing pains

The Truth About Growing Pains

Does your child really have “growing pains?”

The truth is, there is no proof that growing bones can cause pain in your child’s legs. However, there are too many children between the ages of 3 to 16 that complain of leg pain for it to be ignored.

Growing pains occur in around 25 percent to 40 percent of all children. It is most often seen between the ages of 3 to 5 and then again between 8 to 12 years of age, but children of any age can experience growing pains prior to a growth spurt.

The pain that your child can experience with growing pains will more than likely be in the front of their thighs, in their calves or behind their knees. The joints do not hurt. Leg pains are usually felt more at night or evening just about bedtime. The pain is not felt every day and the intensity varies from one child to the next. Some children have severe pain at night that does wake them from sleep, while others do not. Pains brought on from growing, like other illnesses, can affect each child differently as to the exact location of the pain and the intensity.

These leg pains are normally stronger after your child is physically active and your doctor may advise you to give him something for the pain such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Some other ways to help your child when growing pains occur include: massaging the area, having them stand up and stretch (try these kids’ yoga poses) or use a heating pad. Another home remedy is to use a moist towel warmed in the microwave.

 

If you notice that the joints are swollen or red then visit a doctor or physical therapist to help you figure out the problem! There are not physical signs of growing pains and growing pains do not have any type of distinguishing symptoms other than pain in the legs. Your child will not run a fever or hurt any place else besides the ones mentioned above. If you notice other symptoms such as fever, or red and swollen joints, then this could be something more serious.

If you’re worried that your child’s knee pain could be something worse than just growing pains, come see one of our experienced physical therapists.

pain

5 Simple Habits That May Lead To Pain Or Injury

Have you ever heard of “The Compound Effect”? The idea that simple habits repeated over time will eventually lead to a certain outcome. Take working out, for example. You might not see the results of your sweat session over night, but if repeated over time you will begin to see dramatic results. Sadly, the compound effect also applies to negative habits.

Here are a few simple habits you need to be aware of that may eventually lead to pain or injury:

  1.     Too much time spent on phones or tablets –

Texting or looking down at your mobile device for any length of time puts excessive strain on your neck. This habit is especially harmful for kids; too much phone or tablet time has shown to result in altered biomechanical and structural differences with the growth of the spine. Some immediate effects include hand and neck pain. It is important to be conscious of posture when using these devices, try raising your devices to eye level and limit the amount of time spent on them.

  1.     Improper sleeping habits –

We have all woken up at one time or another with some sort of pain in our neck, shoulder or back. If this continues to happen multiple nights in a row, it may be a good idea to try out some other sleeping positions or pillow options. There are many pillow options for comfort and support; it may take a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you. The general rule is that it is best to use a pillow that keeps your cervical spine in neutral alignment. It is worth taking the time to find what works best for you. Sleeping on your back is the best position to allow your entire spine to rest.

  1.     Habit of carrying a purse or backpack that is too heavy –

The most common mistake is consistently carrying a heavy purse or briefcase on one side of the body, it is easy to get in the habit of using your dominant arm but if you must carry a heavy bag make sure to at least alternate arms. The uneven load can cause your shoulders to become uneven and eventually strain your neck muscles. This is not a new bad habit; men and women have been struggling with this issue for quite some time. Here is some great info on the possible negative effects of this habit and ways to help fix it.

  1.     Wearing the wrong shoe size –

Wearing the wrong shoe size can lead to injury, but the problem is most people don’t realize they are wearing the wrong shoe size. While you might typically wear size 8, your running or hiking shoe should typically be ½ sized to a whole size bigger; same with dress shoes, the shoe shouldn’t fit too snug. Speciality running stores like Road Runner Sports and Sole Sports are great options for helping you make sure your athletic shoes are a good fit.

  1.     Improper vision prescription or over use of LED lights –

Poor vision caused by improper prescription or over use of LED lights is an easily overlooked habit that can lead to serious pain. This habit can cause the development of forward head posture due to squinting and leaning forward to view a computer screen or mobile device screen. Forward head posture not only leads to possible pain, but also has shown to be a reason for many injuries, new and chronic.

If you are currently experiencing any pain as a result of these bad habits, make an appointment with us today! Let us help you get back to feeling your best.