Here is a great youtube video on understanding pain.
Don’t let pain shut you down. Get some help and let’s get going!
Trigger Point Dry-Needling and Physical Therapy: A Personal Recovery Story , by Taryn Cohn, MSPT, OCS
I have been a practicing physical therapist for ten years. I became a certified orthopedic manual therapist through the Ola Grimsby Institute 7 years ago and have taken multiple continuing education courses in manual therapy. I have found that most all of the knowledge I have gained throughout the years is valuable and can be applied in one way or another based on the individual and the injury. So when the opportunity came up to take a continuing education course in trigger point dry-needling I jumped at the opportunity. What started out as educational growth opportunity, ended up having a much larger personal impact.
I would consider myself a frequent, perhaps avid exerciser. Ever since childhood I have always enjoyed a wide range of physical activity. It is this passion for movement that initially brought me to physical therapy as a career. However, almost 2 years ago I became sidelined for 8 months with a lumbar disc herniation. Through exercise and the hands-on physical therapy intervention of my co-workers I was able to overcome the injury without needing medical or surgical intervention.
It was in the midst of my recovery that I went to Colorado to learn about trigger point dry-needling. If you are unfamiliar with trigger point dry needling (TDN), or intramuscular therapy, it is a treatment for muscular tightness and spasm, which commonly follows injuries, degenerative processes, stress and muscular overuse. This treatment technique uses small, thin needles inserted directly into hyperirritable areas of taut skeletal muscle referred to as trigger points. When the needle hits the correct spot it causes a twitch response in the muscle, resulting in muscle lengthening and relaxation.
A requirement of the course when learning the dry-needling technique is that you practice on fellow course participants. After my treatment partner completed the trigger-point dry-needling on my low back and hips I experienced some of the most significant relief of painful symptoms I had felt in almost a year. As with most treatment techniques, I am hesitant to use it with patients unless I have experienced some personal benefits. After the initial and continued symptom reduction I have received as a result of dry-needling, I would encourage anyone to try it who has been unsuccessful with other treatments.
Since the addition of dry-needling to my existing manual therapy practice, I have seen excellent results in those suffering from low back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis and neck pain, to name a few.
Call us to see if trigger Point Dry Needling would be helpful to you.
If you are sitting while reading this get up!
Chronic neck or back pain is often caused by being too sedentary. For those with office jobs, here are 3 ways to decrease your neck or back pain.
Don’t let back or neck pain get you down. There is usually a simple, affordable solution.
Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
Do you travel often for work? Will you be flying to see friends and family over the holidays? While we all love the speed of air travel, trips can be down right painful. Uncomfortable seats, confined spaces, and heavy bags. Here are some simple tips to help you manage the stresses of air travel:
1) Get some exercise the day of the trip before going to the airport. This will help you relax while on the plane and decrease muscular tension. If you are unable to exercise before getting to the airport, take a brisk walk focusing on long strides and big arm swings in the airport.
2) Use a back pack. Forget the brief case or fancy hand bag, check your luggage and use a back pack to carry your personal items. This will allow you to keep your hands free, support the weight with your body and decrease the stress to your back and neck.
3) Secure an isle seat. This will allow you to get up easily while in flight to stretch and move around. You should try to get up every 45 minutes or so.
4) Bring a lumbar roll. These rolls are cheap and easy to carry along with you. A lumbar roll supports your lower back to decrease the strain of prolonged sitting. If you don’t have a roll, grab a pillow, blanket on board or even use a sweater. Anything will work to take the tension off.
5) Use the following isometric exercises to reduce muscular tension:
Overhead reach if able reach both arms overhead and back as far as they will go. Hold for 10 seconds. If unable to do both do one arm at a time.
Sitting up tall, arch your low back while squeezing your shoulders back. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times.
6) When you arrive, take a brisk walk to loosen things up.
7) Finally, prepare to pull your bags off of the conveyor belt. Give yourself room and have a plan to grab your bags as they come around. Free yourself of your other luggage so you can safely retrieve your bag.
These are some of the strategies that I use to help me with long flights. Let us know what you do to avoid neck and back pain on airplanes.
Do you sit at a desk all day? This 3 for Thursday is for you.
Sitting at a desk all day can and will be hazardous to your neck and back. Trust me, I see plenty of patients with neck and back pains from sitting. The static nature of sitting at a desk is the problem. The more you are able to change postures and positions, the better off you will be. Here are 3 office exercises to get out of those harmful postures and stay healthy:
A mid morning exercise session in the office can be quite helpful, and can be done in 15 minutes. Try these office exercises from Taryn Cohn to improve postural strength, decrease tension and be more productive at work.
Finally, if you are like me, the 3 o’clock hour is the witching hour. This is the time that the eyelids get heavy and the yawning begins. Avoid the afternoon slump with these tips from Reader’s Digest.
I received this question in response to my post on Neck Pain- Physical Therapy Can Help:
I have some issues with my neck/back that usually only disturbs me in the morning. I’m guessing the reason is how I sleep at night.
Thanks for the comment. Sleeping postures can certainly affect and even cause painful pathologies. When you think about it you can certainly understand how sleeping in any one position for 6-8 hours could present a problem. Try holding your arm behind your back or completely extended overhead for even 10 minutes and see how it feels. The most common problem areas that I see with sleeping are in the shoulder, neck, and back. Generally, I advise people to avoid end range stress on their joints by maintaining a relatively neutral spine. This can be achieved by taking a number of measures including the following:
1) Avoid sleeping on your stomach, or with your arms overhead.
2) Use a pillow that supports your head by keeping it from a twisted or bent position.
3) Get a new mattress. If your mattress sags or is lumpy it’s probably the time for a new one.
4) Avoid sleeping in the same position all of the time.Vary your sleeping positions, preferably on either side or on your back.
5) Use extra pillows to support your body in neutral positions, to avoid extremes of motion in the neck and shoulder.
6) If you must sleep on your stomach use a pillow under your hips.
Here are a few pictures for good sleeping postures.
Neck pain is all too common, and it’s really no surprise why. Just look at what the neck does. It rotates, bends, twists, and turns in all kinds of directions enabling us to move with coordination and skill. But with more moving parts comes an increased risk of injury. Necks are vulnerable to overuse, whiplash, and postural type injuries. But they don’t have to be. Physical therapy is a proven treatment strategy to help those dealing with acute or chronic neck pain.
As a series of bones with multiple joints, and movement patterns, our necks are subjected to repetitive postural trauma. Habitual postures and movement patterns can put stress on certain joints in the neck. How we sit, sleep, and drive can all lead to chronic tightness, weakness, and mobility issues.
The good news is that a healthy neck can be just a physical therapy visit away. A little knowledge and a good strategy can go a long way to avoiding long term neck problems and even surgery. Physical therapists are experts in human movement and are skilled evaluators. Physical therapists can tell you “why” your neck hurts, and provide you the tools needed to prevent serious neck problems.
So if you get occasional neck pain, a headaches, or “cricks” in your neck, call us to schedule an physical therapy evaluation today. Let us show you how to feel better.
By: Rich Baudry, PT, DPT, OCS
Photo 1: The Brit_2
Photo 2: Menage A Moi
“7 herniated discs in my neck & back, don’t move too well, bad knees and shoulders, hands a mess…what kind of exercise CAN I do?”
While it seems that you have collected a lot of injuries, regular and effective exercise is not impossible.
I’ll agree that the more you have going on the more specific and selective your program has to be. When we look at it, our bodies are great at compensation. If we hurt our hip our back will compensate for it, or if we hurt our neck our trunk will adjust to help out. But as we collect injuries, our body’s ability to compensate becomes limited. As a result we become more limited in the things we do. This may be why you are having a hard time finding an exercise program that works for you.
With injury comes muscle weakness and joint instability, which lead to pain.Their are only 2 ways to regain stability, surgery (which doesn’t automatically solve your problems) or exercise to strengthen the muscles around the injury. Let’s look at your exercise options.
With the list of problem areas that you’ve given, isometrics and lower impact exercises would provide a safe starting point for building strength. Remember that it is the instability, or the uncontrolled joint movement, that usually leads to pain. So being able to control movements is helpful to limit the stress on the body. Isometrics are easy to do and pose little threat of re-injury. Areas of concentration would be the upper back/shoulder blade muscles, the lower abdominals, and the gluteals. These muscle groups are vital for core stability. Walking, swimming or cycling may be good lower impact activities for you. Make sure to focus on stabilizing your core while performing these exercises. In all start slowly, be consistent, and patient.
Here are 3 isometric exercises to try:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip distance apart. Place your fingertips just inside your hips so they are resting on your abdomen. Use your abdominal muscles to pull your belly button towards your spine. If you are doing this properly you should feel the muscles underneath your fingertips tighten.
Prone Scapular Squeezes:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms at your side. Tighten your abdomen and your glutes and lift hips off the table.
As always if you have pain with any exercise you should stop immediately and seek professional help.
These are just a few basic stability exercises that whole workouts can be built upon. I encourage you to take charge of your back and neck health. Get educated and let’s get started.
For more information about back and neck pain and where to go, we’re always here for you. Just contact our office or just leave us a comment on this post and we’ll be glad to help you like we’ve helped so many of our patients.
We all have it. But can you really appreciate what stress does to your body?
Chronic stress has been associated with headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, muscle pain, depression, irritability, and chronic pain.
If you suffer from headaches, neck and back pain, fibromyalgia, and chronic muscle fatigue, you may want to seek some help. When stress is involved, a physical therapy session will start with techniques to promote relaxation. We incorporate breathing techniques, soft tissue mobilization, heat and ice, exercise, and even focused meditation. These techniques help us break the stress induced pain cycle. Once the cycle has been broken, we focus your education. We teach you to learn how to recognize the signs of stress, and teach yourself strategies to manage your reaction to stress. It’s really the reaction to stress that can be the problem.
If you think you get stress related pain try these tips to control your stress reaction:
If you’re wondering how stress may be effecting you… try this helpful stress assessment test.
And if you’re feeling like you need help to overcome your stress related pains, we’re always here for you. Just contact our office or just leave us a comment on this post and we’ll be glad to help you like we’ve helped so many of our patients.
Do you ever suffer from headaches brought on by stress? You’re not alone. Studies show that 45 million Americans suffer from headaches. That is almost 1/6 of the population. And while not all of them are stress induced, we’ve all had that bad day that ends up triggering the even worse headache.
The good news is that if you are a headache sufferer there may be a simple solution. Because many headaches are caused by stress, tension, or other mechanical dysfunctions of the upper neck, exercise can help. Limitations in upper neck and jaw movement, poor posture, and increased muscle tension can all produce headache symptoms. Given that so many of us spend our days looking into computer screens, a simple set of exercises and an improved sense of posture and movement may be your answer to more headache free days.
Try these strategies:
1) Adjust your computer monitor so that you have to look slightly down at it ( top of monitor at your brow). Prolonged sitting at a computer can increase the tension in the upper neck.
2) Adjust your seat in the car to be more upright. Car seats promote poor posture. Prolonged driving with poor posture can contribute to headaches.
3) Be aware of your chin position, and try to hold it 1/4″ lower than you normally do. Most people stand and sit with there chin held high. This can cause increased pressure at the base of your skull.
4) Use your knuckles to apply pressure to the muscles just below your skull. Apply pressure in these areas as tolerated holding for 8-10 seconds. This can help decrease muscle tension.
5) Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach can strain the upper neck which can trigger headaches.
6) Take time to lie in a dark quiet room and focus on your breathing. Lie quietly for 5 -10 minutes trying to relax the muscles of your neck. This will provide you with much needed down time to reduce muscular tension in the area.
7) Add these neck exercises to your everyday routine:
Lie on your back with head supported by the table. Without lifting head off the supporting surface gently bring chin towards the chest. Slightly press your head into the table. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times to relieve symptoms.
RETRACTION / CHIN TUCK
Sit tall. Draw your head back so that your ears line up with your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times to relieve headache symptoms.
While these techniques can be helpful, headaches can be a sign of a more serious condition. If you do suffer frequent headaches, consider talking to your physician or physical therapist for a complete evaluation. It is vital that you identify the source of your headaches to find a successful treatment approach.
For more information regarding treatments for headaches, please contact our office or just leave us a comment on this post.