Does Strengthening The Core Prevent Lower Back Pain?

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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.

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.

Home Remedies To Alleviate A Stiff Neck

Home Remedies To Alleviate A Stiff Neck

Did you wake up with a stiff neck? Is your neck sore or is it not moving as easily as it once did? If so, you will be glad to know that there are simple home remedies that can help you to alleviate your pain. If you find that is not enough, a physical therapist at Contact Physical Therapy can also help show you ways to alleviate the pain that accompanies your condition.

Sometimes getting a stiff neck is as simple as sleeping on it wrong. Maybe you woke up with it. Or, worse yet, maybe you did something to injure your neck that immediately caused the pain. Stiff neck symptoms are characterized by: 

  • inability to turn neck all the way and/or without pain
  • having to turn the whole body to look to the side
  • may be accompanied by headaches, neck or shoulder pain and/or possibly arm pain
  • may be accompanied by pain when turning the neck

The main cause of a stiff neck is typically a strained muscle or soft tissue sprain. A stiff neck usually lasts up to 7 days, but what you do can determine if it stays away once it goes away. You can also do some things to help minimize your pain while you recover. The good news is that a physical therapist or some simple at home remedies may be able to help.

Home Remedies To Alleviate A Stiff Neck

  • Rest: rest for a couple days, but not longer than 1-2 so that your muscles don’t become weakened
  • Cold therapy: apply ice for the first 1-2 days to help get inflammation down
  • Heat therapy: use heat to instigate blood flow to the area to promote healing
  • Stretching: ask your physical therapist to show you some gentle stretches that can be done to help alleviate the pain and stiffness that comes along with a stiff neck
  • Get out and walk: walking can get blood and oxygen circulating throughout the body and can help to ease your condition.

If your stiff neck lasts more than a week or if you have more severe symptoms along with it (fever, nausea, vomiting) visit a doctor as these could be signs of a more serious condition.

Whether it is some simple stretching techniques to help alleviate the pain associated with a stiff neck or recover from another injury, the physical therapists at Contact Physical Therapy can help tailor a program that is right for you. 

To get started, contact us today.

physical therapy for concussion recovery

Physical Therapy For Concussion Recovery

Physical therapy for concussion recovery can be a helpful thing to consider if you have been injured. If you have dealt with a concussion and you need help, check with your physical therapist. A physical therapist can direct you on getting the help you need as soon as possible.

[Learn more: Elements For Physical Therapy Success]

What is a concussion? A concussion is a brain injury. It happens when your brain is shaken violently. If your head is directly hit, a concussion might happen to you. The same is true if you are enduring whiplash. Changes in the functioning of the brain might occur when these things take place.

A physical therapist can help you in many ways such as:

  • Recovery and rest. Your physical therapist will let you know the reasons why you need to limit your physical activities.
  • Restoring endurance and strength. Your physical therapist will teach you how to restore the power of your body without making the symptoms of the illness worse.
  • Improving balance and stopping the dizziness. Your physical therapist may use vestibular physical therapy with you to help you recover.
  • Reducing headaches. Your physical therapist will work hard to find out the causes of your headaches so you can get the relief you need.

Remember that your concussion is an injury in your brain. This type of injury might bring about a lot of problems that a physical therapist can help you with.

Talk to your physical therapist as soon as possible. In the state of Arizona, you have direct access to seeing your physical therapist without first receiving a physician’s referral. He or she understands that every concussion that every person has is different and can work to tailor a treatment program that is right for you.  

Physical therapy for concussion recovery can be an effective way of managing your injury. A physical therapist at Contact Physical Therapy can help.

To get started, contact us today.

hand therapy for de quervain's

Hand Therapy For de Quervain’s

If you are experiencing pain along the side of your thumb or if your thumb feels like it “sticks” from time to time, you may be interested to know about hand therapy for de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

Long-term overuse of the fingers, hand or wrist can cause this. This condition is most likely caused by activities that require repetitive motions such as lifting a child, gardening, golfing, racket sports, carpentry, typing, or piano playing. It can also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or injury where scar tissue has restricted tendon function.

All of this can have an impact on the tendons found on the side of your thumb and your wrist. When this happens, you may begin to experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, inflammation, and/or difficulty or pain when using your thumb and wrist or trying to grasp hold of or pinch something.

Catching this condition early can help allow hand therapy to be more effective and prevent it from getting worse. If this condition worsens, it can spread to your forearm. The worst case scenario, if left untreated, is that this can lead to permanent damage, or lead to the tendon sheath bursting. Treatment is important.

Hand Therapy For de Quervains Tenosynovitis

Your tendons have been overworked and need to rest as much as possible. Your hand therapist will have suggestions on how to use your thumb, wrist and hand in a way that does not aggravate the condition. He or she will want you to avoid movements that aggravate it. They will also encourage you to take breaks during repetitive motion, such as typing. The wrist may need to be splinted to keep the thumb and hand in a neutral position.

Hand therapy will focus on strengthening exercises. This can help to prevent the condition from getting worse, decrease inflammation, improve mobility of the thumb and prevent this condition from recurring.

If you have already had surgery for this condition, physical therapy can aid in your recovery. Whether it is recovery from surgery, or enlisting the help of hand therapy for de Quervain’s to avoid surgery, you will benefit from working with a hand therapist who can show you ways to treat the condition or prevent it from getting worse.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms of de Quervain’s listed above, contact the team at Contact Physical Therapy to find a course of therapy that is right for you.

Types of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has been practiced for ages. Documents show physical therapy being practiced in 460 BC by Hippocrates when he introduced the idea of manual manipulation for pain relief. It has since grown from more of a massage type practice then, to multiple different types you see in modern day physical therapy, today. Physical therapy has advanced and grown over the years to the many types you may or may not know about.

 

Geriatric Physical Therapy

As people age the need for routine physical therapy may grow with them. Getting older can be tough on the Skelton and muscles. When the body is younger, you may compensate for pains or things such as bad posture, but as you get older those problems become harder to ignore. Misuse of the body may also increase the need for physical therapy as you age. Your muscles become weaker and you may not be able to compensate for the way you were previous living. Physical therapy can help fix or reverse pain and damage. It is safe, effective and less stressful than surgeries or medication.

 

Orthopedic Physical Therapy

This type of physical therapy may be on you are familiar with. This type is designed to help you and your body recover after a surgery to strengthen your muscles that you injured. You may be surprised by the positive effects that physical therapy has on the body. Whether the injury is old, reoccurring or rebuilding strength after a surgery, therapy can target key muscle groups to get you back to your healthy self.

 

Neurological Physical Therapy

Problems with your neurological system such as: spinal cord injuries, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, brain injuries or cerebral palsy all strike at the nervous system. The nervous system is how your brain controls your body. Most of these disorders are chronic which mean they are unlikely to be healed completely, but physical therapy can have a great positive impact on life with these disorders. Therapists can teach small therapeutic exercises which can make the effects on muscles and movement become more manageable.

 

Cardiovascular/Pulmonary Physical Therapy

Cardiopulmonary physical therapy has a main goal about building independence if you have a serious problem with your heart or circulation. These problems could include: heart attacks or pulmonary fibrosis and therapy can help you grow strength in target muscles to help improve your endurance.

 

Physical therapy includes all these and more. If you think physical therapy may be right for you call our office to talk about your pain and options.

Opioids

Physical Therapy VS Opioids

Many Americans suffer through back and body pain. Often times people jump to the conclusion of intense back surgery or masking the pain with opioids. Both of these could have highly dangerous outcomes and could prolong or worsen your problem. Before you jump to conclusions, physical therapy may be able to ease or solve your pain without drugs or surgery.

A study conducted by The University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., showed that patients who saw a physical therapist before trying other treatments such as surgery or an opioid prescription had an 89 percent lower probability of needing such treatments. This study also concluded that patients of physical therapy have a 28 percent lower probability of having any advanced imaging done as well as a 15 percent lower probability of making one or more ER visit.

Physical therapists have specialized knowledge in pain management and how to correct your body to relieve yourself of pain, such as lower back pain. Therapists can guide patients through regimens and exercises to strengthen and improve muscles which can ease pain.

If you are deciding if physical therapy is right for you vs other options consider these points.

The risk of opioids outweigh the rewards- potential side effects of include depression, overdose, and addiction, in addition to withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use. Because of these risks experts believe that opioids should not be the first option or routine therapy for chronic pain.

Pain lasts 90 days or more- Pain is considered chronic at this point. The CDC guidelines state that nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain and opioids only should be considered if the benefits for both pain and function outweigh the risk to the patient. Try to consider physical therapy as a first option for chronic pain relief.

Pain is related to low back pain, hip, knee or fibromyalgia- Physical therapy has shown high evidence stating that exercise as part of treatment for these conditions can help reduce and heal pain.

If opioids are prescribed for pain- It is recommended to receive the lowest effective dose and still be combined with nonopioid therapies, such as physical therapy.

Before starting any opioid treatments consult with your doctor and physical therapist to find the best treatment for you and your pain.

Elderly women with physical therapist

Goals of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is sought out for many different reasons, but may have the same end goals in mind. Physical therapy is often the first choice when feeling aches and pains and could be the answer for nagging pain without big surgeries, or constant medication. People see a physical therapists for all types of reasons with the same goal of your relief, often in mind.

Rehabilitation and recovery may be the end goal for you physical therapy visits. Regardless of the reasons that led you to physical therapy, the thought of finally feeling relief is at the top of your mind. Regular visits to your physical therapist will help achieve this. PT will improve your pain or movement restrictions. If prescribed to do so- seek out a physical therapist so you too can feel freedom of your pain.

Prevention of injury may be another goal when visiting your local physical therapy office. While this is a seemingly broad group of people, athletes and people who live an active lifestyle tend to be the ones who have this on their mind. By practicing and learning movement in the proper form can prevent injuries and physical longevity can be improved. Treatment for this can include dynamic stretching and resistance training. Here at Contact Physical Therapy we have therapists who specialize in sports therapy and can get yourself or your young athlete ready for his or her upcoming sports season.

Optimal function and movement of the human body is another goal of those who see a physical therapist. People consider this when they are feeling pain when doing normal tasks such as walking, bending, etc. Physical therapy can help get their bodies back to a normal function without pain. Treatment is personalized, based on the person’s goal. This can even be led to living a healthier lifestyle and become able to improve the longevity of athletic activities.

Finally, prescribing a personalized plan for your individual needs to keep you active and free of pain is a goal of physical therapy. After an assessment of your pain or what you would like to achieve while visiting a physical therapist, he or she will discuss with you a plan to accomplish this. Some plans may take longer than others and require your help out of the office. Most of your daily life is not spent inside a physical therapy office and the therapist will teach you proper ways to move and heal to avoid further injuring yourself or future injuries.

If any of these issues are threatening your way of life, it may be time to seek physical therapy so you too can have freedom of pain and a healthy lifestyle. As always, consult your doctor to see if physical therapy may be the right treatment for you.

Benefits of Rest Days

Rest days are just as important as working out. Sometimes the mindset is to go hard every day in the gym to hit your goals, and your body isn’t getting the time to recover from all your hard work. There are many benefits to rest days when you’re toning up, losing weight or maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

We need to allow time for our bodies to rest between workouts. Not giving yourself rest days is doing more harm than it is good. Movement is good every day, but intense training shouldn’t be done every day.

Training your body without giving it the opportunity for rest can lead to many harmful side effects including: decreased performance, fatigue, poor sleeping patterns and more. Studies have shown that two active rest days, weekly is ideal for many people. Consult your trainer or physical therapist to see how many rest days would be best for your body.

One of the harmful side effects to over training is often times; injury. When your body is over worked without given the proper time to recover, you may risk the possibility or injuring yourself, resulting in staying away from gym for much longer than your rest days.

You could also become burnt out from constant training. This can become a prolonged cycle of rollercoaster weight loss from going too hard and stopping and likely doomed to be repeated. Your rest days will fit well within your schedule to keep you living a healthy lifestyle that can be done for the rest of your life.

Resting is just as important as working out as it is an equal part of building muscle, strength and endurance. Working out breaks down your body tissues and the rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones and tissues time to repair. This cycle is how stronger muscles are made so taking away a part of that, will decrease your strength.

This regeneration process also requires food, water, sleep and the right nutrients like protein and vitamins to grow back stronger. Without the combination of all these things the body cannot function properly within your training process.

Giving your body all the proper foundation, it needs will keep you healthier for longer. Working out is a stepping stone for wellness and with that comes rest days. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself in the gym for days in a row for an upcoming event, vacation or holiday and remember your hard work will pay off with the rest days.

Why You Should Take Vitamin C Daily

Think vitamin C is only good to take in the winter when you feel the sniffles coming? Think again. Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, some experts say. While you may think it’s only good to drink mixed in your water to avoid sickness, it also has other benefits and reasons why you should take vitamin C daily.

You may know that vitamin C fights off immune system deficiencies, but did you know it helps with prenatal health and eye disease? Experts are even saying the more they study vitamin C the more they are uncovering new benefits to it and are linking it to immunity of living longer.

Vitamin C is also great for muscle recovery. Adding this to your daily vitamins will help your muscles repair quicker after workouts in addition to all the other benefits vitamin C has. If you aren’t already taking vitamins daily, this is a great vitamin to start with. Consult your doctor to see what vitamins are best for your body and health.

Vitamin C has also been shown to improve skin health and wrinkles. Many beauty products have vitamin C in it, that is applied directly to the skin. Taking a daily pill will also be beneficial since good skin starts from within.

Other benefits of vitamin C include:

 

  • Strengthening the immune system after it has been depleted by stress, which affects most of our society. Vitamin C has also been shown to have positive effects for those who struggle with addiction as it is the first nutrient that is depleted from alcoholics, smokers and obese individuals.

 

  • Prevent or decrease the length of a cold. This may be the reason you are currently taking this vitamin, which is a great reason to keep it going. You can reduce your risk of cold and flu by adding a little vitamin C daily.

 

  • Post workout repair. The body breaks down the muscles during a workout and vitamin C can help in recovery. It is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues, including the formation of collagen.

 

  • Reduces skin aging. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and out of the body. Studied have shown that those with higher vitamin C intake were associated to those with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance on their skin as well as less dry and better skin-aging appearance.

 

Most people are not getting the essentials vitamins and nutrients from their diets alone and supplement with a daily vitamin regimen. Adding a vitamin C can positively affect many areas in your life from your immune to your skin. Vitamin C can be found in every grocery and health store to keep you healthy, happy and active all year long.