Month: June 2019

  • So, your imaging or doctor has told you that you have “arthritis.” You must Osteoarthritis be doomed right? It’s “bone on bone” but it’s not time, or you’re not a candidate for surgery. What should you do?! Most commonly the type of arthritis in these situations is “osteoarthritis” (OA) which results from a natural process of degeneration that comes along with aging. The cartilage between the surfaces of your joints gets softer and breaks down over time. This is more common in some joints that others but can affect multiple regions. There are many factors that can contribute to the severity of arthritis including genetics, lifestyle, obesity, menopause, etc. However, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do!

    The most important thing to remember initially is that correlation is not always causation. Meaning just because you have arthritis present does not necessarily mean that it is the sole cause of your dysfunction or pain. You and your neighbor may have the same exact severity of arthritis and you have a lot of pain and they have none. It is best to be evaluated by a Physical Therapist if you are having persistent pain with movement and are unsure how to manage it.

    Secondly, in most cases, motion is lotion. The less you are up and moving, strengthening around the joint and keeping your muscles pliable the more likely you are to have “stiffening” and/or pain when you do get up and moving. Motion helps to bathe the joint surfaces in healthy fluid that keeps the joint lubricated and moving more easily. This is not to be confused with swelling which often causes more feelings of stiffness and discomfort.

    Alright, I hear you. “But I’m hurting, how am I supposed to move!?” Oftentimes, the best place to start is like the best BBQ, low and slow. Low impact exercises such as walking, swimming (or pool walking) or cycling at first for just a few minutes at a time can be a good place to start. If those are even tough for you, have no fear! Physical Therapy is here! We can help come up with strategies to manage swelling, stiffness, movement dysfunction and pain making an individualized exercise plan that you can tolerate.

    Generally, being sedentary is not going to help to manage your OA symptoms. Even if you have a small degree of discomfort or soreness following activity, it is usually better long term to build up your strength and tolerance to movement than to default to “rest.” It is common for rest to be prescribed as the first line of defense and people tend to fear “making it worse” causing them to want to be sedentary but this is a mistake! If you are unsure where to begin, meet with your physical therapist to discuss a safe and effective plan to manage your symptoms and help get you moving again!

    Written by: Dr. Eden Climo, PT, DPT

  • After giving birth, fluctuating hormone levels along with physical changes following delivery can produce pain or feeling of instability in the low back and pelvic areas. This can be due to excessive joint mobility, possible muscle imbalance, weakness in the core stability muscles, and changes in spinal and pelvic mobility and function.

    Physical therapy can be helpful in assessing for alignment of the spine and pelvis, weakness of the core and pelvic muscles, and imbalance in mobility and strength. Physical therapy can be especially helpful postpartum when diastasis recti is present, which can occur when the two bands of abdominal muscles that meet in the middle of your stomach separate. This can cause a bulge at midline and can also cause lower back pain.

    During pregnancy, there is a weakening of the pelvic floor for several reasons such as hormonal changes, weight gain during pregnancy, straining with possible constipation, and inappropriate pregnancy and post-partum exercises. Therefore, it is important to perform pelvic floor exercies properly. Physical therapy can provide a program to help reduce or avoid urine leakage following delivery caused by weakness of the pelvic floor muscles to improve their function and control.

    Through instruction of an appropriate exercise program, manual therapy, and instruction for daily activity modifications as needed during this period of time, physical therapy can be very beneficial to help with the transition following pregnancy toward full return to normal daily activity and enjoying you new bundle of joy.

    Written by Dr. Debbie Clarke, PT, MPT, CIDN