Magnetic resonance imaging, more commonly known as MRI, can be a valuable and important tool but how reliable is it? MRI’s are utilized by many physicians in the diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal injuries. An important thing to keep in mind is thatRead More
Pain is a normal experience that everyone has to deal with at some point: it is inevitable. The suffering from pain is what you can control. Research is showingRead More
Those who play the game of golf know the physical strain it can place on the entire body especially the lower back. The last thing any golfer wants to do is to miss a few rounds of golf because of pain or injury. Anyone who watches golf on TV can tell you that the days when players were out of shape and overweight are gone. Nowadays, each player follows a rigorous training program to stay at the top of their game throughout the year. Here are a few tips to keep you at the top of your game.Read More
It is estimated that approximately 50% of pregnant women will experience some kind of low back pain during their pregnancy, or during the postpartum period. Of those that experience low back pain, only about 50% of them will seek advice from a healthcare professional; with only 70% of those women actually receiving treatment.
- Mechanical: Weight gain during pregnancy, increased abdominal size, shifting of the center of mass forward; all can increase the stress on the low back. When the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the growing uterus, muscle fatigue typically occurs which results in an increased load on the spine. Another common finding is weakness of their gluteus medius, or the outer glute/hip muscle.
- Hormonal: Relaxin is a hormone secreted during pregnancy, and it causes your ligaments to get lax, which in turn can cause your pelvis to become unstable. This includes not only the SIJ (sacroiliac joint), but the entire low back resulting in instability of the pelvis and poor alignment of the spine.
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?Read More
Topics: Low back pain
As a Physical Therapist, I am asked a lot of questions about low back pain. With so much information available to us online from various sources - both reliable and unreliable, both too general and too specific, it is hard to know what to believe is truth or the best practice for most individuals. These are general guidelines to get you started based upon the common questions I am asked.
I know I have a lot of comfy places to sit at home, couch, recliner, love seat and this is often where I end up sitting at the end of the day. I have had many patients come and say they sit on their couch with their feet on the coffee table or sit in their recliner with their feet up. They say, it feels great while sitting there, then it is painful getting up due to low back pain. This is because your spine is flexed or rounded especially when you have your feet up. This is one position you want to try and avoid at home. Try to sit with your feet on the floor and try not to slouch when sitting at home. Try sitting in a more upright chair, kitchen chair or dining room chair. I know these aren’t as comfortable but they are better for your back.
Ice or heat?
If you just hurt your back yesterday, then ice is the answer. Ice is good for new or acute injuries for 24-48 hours. Ice helps to decrease the blood flow to the area which helps to decrease pain and inflammation. If an area is swollen or bruised, use ice. Now if you have had back pain foRead More
Back pain is quite common, around 80% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives. What is causing it? More often than not, too much bending and twisting can create more low back pain. Since everything is in front of us, we bend thousands of times during the day. If we are able to decrease the amount of bending we can do just a little bit, this can make a big difference in developing back pain.Read More
Consider yourself a healthy person?
Know that even if you get the recommended amount of aerobic exercises (30 minutes per day), by sitting at your desk the majority of the day you can still be considered to lead a sedentary lifestyle?
Prolonged sitting contributes to shortened or tight muscles....
Sitting for the majority of the day can have a great effect on the health and function of your spine. Have you made the connection that sitting can cause low back pain?
In the sitting position, your chest is closer to your knees, which only means one thing… all of the muscles in between are shortened or tight. When your muscles are too tight, your body can not move naturally. With prolonged sitting, the muscles at the front of the leg, specifically the hip flexors (illiopsoas group) become very tight.
If you refer to the image below, you can see that sections of the muscle originates on the lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the top of your femur (the long bone of your thigh).
Is it ergonomically correct?
What does that even mean?!
According to OSHA, ergonomics is defined as “fitting a job to a person.” It is intended to help lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity and reduce the number of work-related musculoskeletal injuries. Having the proper ergonomic workspace set up is very important, especially when it comes to maintaining good posture and a healthy spine.
How does your work station measure up?
The next time you are at your desk, use these 10 tips to better your workspace and decrease your chances of injury due to postural faults...
- Sit as close as possible to your desk. By sitting closer to your desk, this will allow you to reach your keyboard or answer your phone while maintaining an upright, erect posture. No slouching forward! Your desk should be at the height of your belly button.
- Sit with your bottom back against your chair. Do you sit at the edge of your chair? By sitting with your bottom all the way back against the back of your chair, you are providing support to your lower back and you are able to use your arm rests to better your posture.
- Ensure you have good lumbar support. Most chairs have some lumbar support, but it may not be enough for everyone. If there is room between the curve of your lower back and your chair consider rolling up a bath towel or purchasing a lumbar roll to support your lower back. You will be surprised how supporting your lower back with force better posture! Not sure where where to get your hands on a lumbar roll? Each of our office locations have them on hand for purchase.
- Sit with your Hips and knees bent to 90 degrees.
- Are your feet touching the ground? If your feet are not flat on the ground, use a foot rest (shoe box or telephone book) so that your feet are flat and supported.
- Use your arm rests. Your elbows should parallel to your shoulders and should be bent to 90 degrees. By resting your elbows on the arm rests you are able to take some pressure off of your shoulders and helps you sit up tall.
- Use your wrist rest only for rest! The wrist rests on your keyboards are great, but only use them when taking a break from typing. Avoid typing with your wrists pulled back (which may be caused when placing your wrists on the rest while typing). Keep your wrists in a neutral position to avoid injuring the tendons and nerves that pass through your wrist to your hand.
- Eyes at the top of the computer screen. ONLY after you have adjusted your chair to fit your body, next, adjust your computer screen. When sitting up tall, your eyes should be parallel to the top of your computer screen. If you are unable to adjust the height of your screen, request a computer monitor lift or use books to increase the height of the screen.
- Keep frequently used objects close to your body. The objects that you use the most during the day, like your keyboard should be reached with the elbows bent at 90 degrees. Other frequently used objects, like your phone, stapler or books should be able to be accessed without having to fully straighten your arm. Like my dad always says, “Work smarter, not harder!”
- Rest breaks! If you find yourself slouching forward, having aches in your neck, back or shoulders - stand up and stretch!
HDTV’s, laptops, clothes…the amazing deals of Black Friday are upon us, and with all of this comes some potential pain too! While you are busy shopping and taking advantage of all the great deals, we often forget about ourselves and what we are doing to our bodies. Here are some quick tips to help you come out of Black Friday with only financial pain…
Remember it is a marathon, not a sprint! Black Friday is a daylong event and you need to pace yourself. This means you will want to sit and take rests as needed, especially those of you with arthritis in the back who may have increased pain with walking and standing.
What causes Lumbar Strain?
- Poor conditioning
- Improper lifting/Bending techniques
- 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.
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.
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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.
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Still wanting some advice? Ask one of our therapists a specific question or request a Free 15 Minute Screening below.
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.
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7. Strength/Resistance Training
5. Tai Chi
2. Aquatic Exercise or Therapy
1. Physical Therapy
Have an injury, concern or question regarding any of these forms of exercise? Contact one of our offices. A Physical Therapist will be happy to answer any of your questions - or even perform a Free Injury Screen! Read More
- 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.
- 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.
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