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The Therapists of Onondaga Physical Therapy

Recent Posts


8/26/16 2:23 PM

Cervical pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint, with greater than 50% of the population experiencing cervical pain at some point in their lives. During a given year time span 30-50% of people are currently living with cervical pain. Cervical pain is a common reason for one to seek care with physical therapy. It is prudent to determine the most effective treatment approach based on the symptoms and examination findings for that patient presents with.  Manual therapy directed at both the cervical and thoracic spine has been shown to be an extremely effective approach for people with cervical pain.

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Topics: pain, tips, shoulder pain, NECK PAIN


8/26/16 2:04 PM

Low back pain is a very prevalent and costly condition. It is common for people dealing with low back pain to ask themselves “What do I need for treatment and where should I go?” Of the people who seek outpatient physical therapy services, 50% of them seek it for low back pain. But what’s the most effective treatment approach?

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Topics: Low back pain


8/5/16 3:55 PM
We get this question a lot...Do massage therapy and physical therapy work together? How? There are a lot of reasons why the two can compliment each other, especially with certain injuries or cases. 

There are many benefits to massage, both the type of manual massage performed by a Physical Therapist, and also by a massage therapist, to include:
  • Analgesic effects
  • Increased circulation
  • Improved range of motion
  • Decreased Trigger Point activity and Muscle hypertonicity
  • Increased overall well being

Physical Therapists, Physical Therapy Assistants, and Licensed Massage Therapists all have training in various massage techniques to enhance the desired outcome of your treatment and your Physical Therapy experience. 
  • Alleviate pain and discomfort.   It might not sound pleasant, but before, during or after a good Physical Therapy session, you may experience some muscle soreness and pain. Massage therapy added into your treatment can help alleviate some of that discomfort. Not convinced? The term PhysioTherapy was even used back during the Civil War Era. With so many wounded soldiers, there was almost always a shortage of morphine. Massage was used as a substitute to aid in pain management - some of those manual techniques are still used today in Physical Therapy.

  • Give your body a boost toward recovery & healing itself.    Massage can increase blood flow to the affected, or sore area. Improved circulation helps to facilitate the recovery and healing process of the body. It can also help reduce DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Endorphines are also released with massage.

  • Help to gain Range of Motion.  In applying manual massage to an area of the body, soft tissue, deep tissue and many other massage therapy techniques introduce a stimulus to the affected areas. This causes a sedating or stimulating effect depending on the desired outcome. The therapist can feel where there is tension & trigger point activity, and the patient is also able to give feedback. With those same pain management & sedating effects also comes more ease of range of motion.
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Topics: hip pain, pain, tips, back pain, MASSAGE, SORENESS


12/22/15 10:47 AM

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that is a chronic inflammatory condition usually affecting joints on both sides of the body in the hands and the feet, as well as the hips, knees, and elbows.

As an autoimmune disorder, RA occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissues.  In the case of RA, the lining of your joints are attacked leading to damage and erosion of cartilage and bone.  As the disease progresses, pain and deformity of the joints occurs.

1. Cause:

UNKNOWN:  Research has yet to determine the exact cause of the disease. 
It is known that it is not hereditary.  It has been shown that people with specific genes are more susceptible to the disease, but are not guaranteed to have RA.

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Topics: arthritis, pain

School Backpacks: Hauling Homework Safely

8/28/15 12:30 PM
By this point in the year, school children of all ages are preparing to load up their backpacks with all of those new supplies and textbooks. Study halls can help ease the overwhelming nature of being mid-school year, but what happens when those books & binders need to be hauled home?

In a recent study led by Shelley Goodgold, PT, 55% of the children surveyed carried backpack loads heavier than recommended. These overloaded & improperly fit backpacks can cause various back problems in growing children. In this same study, one third of the children reported back pain that led them to seek medical attention, miss days of school, or abstain from physical activities.

Choose the Right Backpack & Fit it Properly...

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Topics: tips, back pain, tips for children

Frozen Shoulder: Not Related to the Windchill

1/20/15 4:43 PM
What is a Frozen Shoulder?

  • Otherwise known as "Adhesive Capsulitis," is a condition in which your shoulder will feel stiff and painful, especially when moving it.
  • Signs and symptoms often start gradually over time, then worsening before getting better.
  • The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder are covered by a fibrous type material. A Frozen Shoulder occurs when this material gets thick and tightens around the shoulder - preventing normal type movements.

How does it happen?

The exact cause of Adhesive Capsulitis is unknown, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing a Frozen Shoulder:
  • Age and Sex.   People over 40, especially women are more likely to experience symptoms.
  • Non-use.    After prolonged immobility, such as after a shoulder surgery or injury.
  • Systemic diseases.  Such as with diabetes, thyroid issues and heart disease.

So what are the symptoms?

The main symptoms are pain, stiffness, and loss of range of motion. These develop slowly and in three stages. Each of these below stages can last a number of months...
  • Painful Stage.    During this stage, pain occurs with any movement of your shoulder and your shoulder's range of motion starts to become limited.
  • Frozen Stage.    Pain may begin to diminish during this stage; however, your shoulder becomes stiffer, and your range of motion decreases significantly.
  • Thawing Stage.    During this stage, the range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

What are the possible treatment options?

  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory medication
  • Steroid injections
  • Surgery
  • Physical Therapy.  A physical therapist will instruct you on a course of treatment that will help maintain as much mobility in your shoulder as possible through stretching exercises. A therapist can also help to control pain and gain as much shoulder strength and range of motion as possible.
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Topics: shoulder, pain between shoulder blades, shoulder pain

Lumbar Strain: The Need-To-Know's

2/27/14 3:44 PM
Most often referring to a group of muscles called the lumbar paraspinals, lumbar strain is a condition in which these muscles in the low back stretch too far or actually tear from too much stress. These muscles run vertically along the spinal column and suppport the spine, as well as the weight of the upper body.

What causes Lumbar Strain?

  • Poor conditioning
  • Improper lifting/Bending techniques
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Improperly warmed up muscles

Symptoms of Lumbar Strain...

  • Pain around the low back and upper buttocks. This pain is most often aggravated with activity, and alleviated with rest.
  • Low back muscles spasms.
  • If you notice loss of control of bowels or bladder, progressive lower extremity weakness or severe, constant pain - you should contact your physician immediately. These are all signs of a worsening injury to the spine.

The good news, Lumbar Strain can be treated...

  • Physical Therapy.   PT's will instruct you in properly conditioning exercises to recover from the current episode, and prevent another from happening again. Your PT will likely instruct you with some specific stretching and strengthening techniques for the low back, hips and abdomen.
  • Relative Rest.   As lumbar strain is often caused by too much stress to the lumbar paraspinals, your physician and PT will likely prescribe rest or taking it easy, as well as medications. Anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants are the usual go-to's in cases like these.


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Topics: Low back pain, back pain, strains

What is Spine Control?

2/12/14 3:59 PM
Sit up straight...

Don't slouch...

Sound familiar? We have all probably heard this a time-or-two in our lives. Really, your mother (or your Physical Therapist coworkers!) had your best interest in mind. So why is posture is so important? Proper posture keeps bones and joints in correct alignment, helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces (to prevent arthritis), prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions, prevents strain or overuse problems, and contributes to good appearance. 

Spine Control is the concept of maintaining "Neutral Spine Posture" throughout all activities of daily living. In other words, posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while sitting, standing or laying down.

Tips for Maintaining a Neutral Spine

While Sitting...

  • Keep your back straight, and shoulders back. A lumbar roll behind the small of your back may help to maintain this posture. Don't have a lumbar roll? Contact one of our offices to purchase one, or try rolling up a small towel from home.
  • Avoid crossing your legs or sitting with one leg underneath you. This helps to distribute your body weight evenly over both of your hips.
  • Change positions. Avoiding sitting in one position longer than 30 minutes.

While Standing...

  • Align your ears over your shoulders. Tuck your chin and keep eyes forward.
  • Lift your chest bone and pull your shoulders back.
  • Maintain the natural curve of your low back. Tighten those abs to do so.
  • Keep your knees soft and distribute your body weight over the center of each foot.
  • Standing for long periods of time? Try shifting your weight from side-to-side. Putting one foot up on a stool, leaning o
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Topics: Posture, healthy habits, proper posture

Top 8 Interesting Facts about Low Back pain

2/5/14 4:05 PM
The back is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles - this means that there are various ways for one to injure the back and therefore various reasons that you might be experiencing low back pain. You can strain a muscle, sprain a ligament, rupture or irritate a joint to name a few. Certain conditions can also cause back pain, such as stenosis, arthritis and spinal curvatures.

Did you know....
  • 31 million Americans are experiencing low back pain at any given time.
  • 50% of working Americans admit to having symptoms of back pain each year.
  • Low back pain affects 80% of people in their lifetime. Men reports symptoms up to 10 years earlier than women.
  • Back pain is one of the leading causes for missed work
  • Back pain is the second leading cause for MD visits each year behind only upper-respiratory infections.
  • Americans spend $50 billion yearly on issues relate to back pain.
  • Most causes of back pain are mechanical - meaning pain is not caused by arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Individuals lifting with a twisting motion are six times more likely to experience an acute disc injury than an individual who lifts properly. (Yikes!)

While it may sound like the odds are against you, you can try to prevent any type of back injury and experiencing low back pain. Keeping your entire body healthy can help! 
  • Avoid prolonged bed rest and remain physically active under the guidance of a therapist, if needed. 
  • Be sure to warm muscles up for physical activity - stretch before & after the activity!
  • Maintain proper posture. Avoid slouched sitting throughout the day.
  • Practice safe lifting techniques. Lift with your legs, keeping objects close to your body. Avoid twisting motions while lifting.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and diet. As a general rule, we each should get 30 mins of moderate physical activity on most days of the week, combined with a healthy diet. The Department of Health & Human Services recommends balancing calorie intake with physical activity to manage weight, consuming more fruits, vegetables & whole grains. They also recommend consuming fewer foods with salts(sodium), saturated & trans fats, added sugar and refined grains. Review the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 or browse for further information by visiting their website with the link provided.

For more information regarding prevention of low back injuries, proper lifting techniques and recommended exercises for the low back, we think you might also be interested in...

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Topics: Low back pain, healthy habits, pain

Pregnancy & Back Pain: Is there any Relief?

1/15/14 3:07 PM
50-70% of all pregnant women experience some type of back pain during their pregnancies. Back pain, lumbar and pelvic pain are all common complaints. An expectant mother's body is going through hormonal and postural changes, as well as a shift in the center of gravity - all of which contribute to these complaints. Anticipation and making room in homes, in life and in finances for that bundle of joy can be stressful. These increased levels of stress can also contribute to the aches & pains experienced.

Pregnancy-related back pain should also be taken seriously by mother-to-be and physician as there is potential for endangering mother and fetus if not handled appropriately. Luckily, low back pain usually resolves postpartum, but in the meantime there are some simple things to try to get some relief and enjoy the rest of the pregnancy. 

Reducing Pregnancy-Related Back Pain on your own...

  • Avoid sleeping on your back. Add in a pillow between your legs, and shift to sleeping on your left side. This will help alleviate low back symptoms and ensure the baby and the placenta is receiving the most blood flow.
  • Elevate your feet whenever possible. Getting plenty of rest and elevating your feet will help to reduce swelling and low back symptoms. 
  • Shoes, shoes, shoes. Choosing footwear with adequate support can work wonders for reducing low back pain. Avoid high heels during pregnancy as they exaggerate postural changes that are contributing to your back pain.
  • Wear a support brace. There are various types of abdominal support braces available for expectant mothers. These are sometimes called Sacro-Iliac Joint Belts or a prenatal cradle. A Physical Therapist can help you choose one appropriate for your symptoms, and issue one to you as well.

How Can a Physical Therapist Help?

  • A Physical Therapist can instruct an expectant mother on ways to relieve pressure from the low back.
  • While each stage of pregnancy is different, a Physical Therapist can guide you through specific exercises tailored to each stage. They can also help to accommodate pregnancy complications if needed.
  • Pain relief. A PT can help to relieve aches and pains through various manual therapy techniques. Many women also find relief from their pregnancy-related aches and pains with Aquatic Therapy.
  • Strengthening. A PT can instruct you on strengthening exercises to prepare for labor and delivery.



We think you might also be interested in...


Work Smarter, Not Harder to Beat Low Back Pain


School Backpacks: Hauling Homework Safely


Less Low Back Pain is Only a Stand Up and Stretch Away



Still wanting some advice? Ask one of our therapists a specific question or request a Free 15 Minute Screening below.


Get Help with Low Back Pain


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Topics: Low back pain, pain, pregnancy, sciatica

8 Tips for Safe Shoveling

1/8/14 3:34 PM
We know the routine all too well. A foot of snow has moved in, created a winter wonderland and it must be moved before you can even think of getting anywhere on time. Hey, look on the bright side -  The American Heart Association recommends we each get 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week. Shoveling snow for at least 15 minutes counts as a moderate physical activity and puts you that much closer to a healthier heart.

Unfortunately, an increased number of heart attacks are reported after heavy snowfalls. What's the connection? Shoveling can be a demanding task for the body. Some bodies are just not ready for it!

To be sure you're shoveling safely, keep a few things in mind...

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine before tackling the job. These can increase your heart rate, causing blood vessels to constrict and placing extra stress on the heart.
  • Drink plenty of water - before and after shoveling! Dehydration is just as important to avoid in the winter as in the summer.
  • Dress in layers. We know that it's tempting to bundle up before going outside, but as you shovel and body temperature rises you might want to remove layers as you go. Synthetic fibers (in a lot of athletic-type clothing) help to wick away perspiration better than natural fibers (such as cotton).
  • Find the right shovel for you. Choosing a shovel with a smaller blade will require lifting less snow at a time and put less strain on your body.
  • Pace yourself. Begin shoveling slowly to avoid a sudden demand on your heart. Take breaks as needed.
  • Protect your back from injury. Lift correctly - stand with your feet about hip width apart and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back!) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements - if you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction you need the snow to go.
  • Try to shovel right after the snow lands. Shoveling wet, hard-packed snow is a much harder task than shoveling light, fluffy snow. 
  • Most importantly, listen to your body! If you feel pain, that's a sign to stop. If you are typically inactive or have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before you take on the task.



We think you might also be interested in...


Work Smarter, Not Harder to Beat Low Back Pain


10 Tips for a Better Workstation Set Up


Arthritis Pain: Are you at Risk?


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Topics: Low back pain, healthy habits, tips

What is Sciatica, Anyway?

1/31/13 2:41 PM
Sciatica is a condition caused by irritation to the Sciatic Nerve. Sciatica is a symptom rather than a diagnosis - so treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause of the symptom. The main causes of Sciatica are: a Bulging Disc, Spinal Stenosis and Piriformis Syndrome.

The Symptoms...
  • Pain in the buttocks, with or without burning/tingling down the leg.
  • Weakness, numbness or difficult moving the leg or foot.
  • A sharp pain in the low back that may make it difficult to stand or walk.
  • Pain often starts slowly and may worsen after prolonged sitting, standing, at night and when sneezing, laughing or coughing.

What to Expect if you're experiencing Sciatica...
  • Most Sciatic Symptoms result from inflammation and will resolve in two weeks to a few months.
  • Because nerve pain can be difficult to treat, severe cases may cause the pain to be quite severe and persist for a longer period of time.
  • A full recovery is possible if the underlying cause of the Sciatica is correctly identified and treated.

Treatment Options...
  • Apply heat or ice to the area. This can help to control the pain and inflammation. Not sure which one to apply? Check with one of our therapists.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications. These can also help to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • In chronic or more severe cases, a physician may recommend injections to help to reduce inflammation around the nerve.
  • Physical Therapy. A physical therapist can develop a program of exercises and stretches specific for your symptoms. These can provide immediate relief of pain.



We think you might also be interested in....


3 Simple Ways to Self-Assess for Risk of Injury


What is Spine Control?


Less Low Back Pain is Only a Stand Up and Stretch Away


Read More

Topics: Low back pain, pain, sciatica