Did you know that one out of three seniors will fall this year, but fewer than half of them will talk with their doctors about it? Falls are also the No. 1 cause of injuries in seniors, resulting in hip fractures, cuts, and even serious head and brain injuries that can be fatal. And even when there’s no serious injury, a fall can still be so frightening that seniors may avoid certain activities because they’re afraid they’ll fall again.
The first step in fall prevention is preparedness. By putting some safe guards in place, you are less likely to becoming a victim of a fall. Here are several suggestions to get you started:
Make an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
Wear sensible shoes. Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.
Remove home hazards.
Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:
Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. Examples of assistive devices are:
The Smith Clinic would love to help and assist you in brainstorming other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. If you're concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence. Call us today to learn more about fall prevention, as well as other topics to keep you safe and healthy in the months and years to come!
Dry Needling is a treatment technique often used by physical therapists to relieve pain, muscle tension and improve mobility. Used in a variety of musculoskeletal problems such as headaches, neck pain or back pain, tendinitis, “Sciatica”, knee or hip pain, and fibromyalgia, the dry needling technique uses a sterile acupuncture needle that is inserted through the skin into muscles, tendons, ligaments, and/or close to nerves to immediately reduce pain, decrease muscle tension and increase mobility. This treatment technique provides an environment that enhances the body’s ability to heal which ultimately reduces pain.
IS DRY NEEDLING THE SAME AS ACUPUNCTURE?
Dry Needling is not acupuncture, however, there are many similarities. Dry needling is based on a modern scientific study of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems and, in contrast to most schools of acupuncture, dry needling is strictly based on Western medicine principles and research.
WHAT CAN BE TREATED BY DRY NEEDLING?
Dry Needling can be used for a variety of musculoskeletal problems. When combined with traditional physical therapy and the advanced manual therapy techniques, we have had success treating most pain related problems from head to toe and from acute to chronic conditions. In addition, dry needling can be used to help athletes overcome delayed onset muscle soreness. As athletes push the envelope to become bigger and faster or to reach new goals, recovery becomes an essential phase in the process. Often times dry needling can be used to speed up this recovery time and allow the athlete to return to training or to playing as soon as possible.
IS DRY NEEDLING PAINFUL?
For most people, there is little to no discomfort with the insertion of the needle. We strive to make the treatment virtually painless, however, at times, you may experience a “twitch response” which often feels like a quick muscle cramp or ache. These sensations are normal and even desirable at times. Following this technique, muscle soreness can be felt up to 24-48 hours. The application of heat or ice and drinking plenty of fluids usually reduces the soreness.
Dry Needling is a powerful treatment technique that, when used in conjunction with our other treatments, can help you relieve your pain and improve your function quickly. Call us today to learn more about our dry needling therapy - it may provide the relief you have been looking for!
Summer is winding down, and the start of a new school year can only mean one thing: fall sports season is here! Whether it’s football, soccer, cheerleading or cross-country, sports are wonderful for children’s health and wellness, keeping them both physically active and involved with their peers.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that more than 2.6 million children are treated in emergency rooms every year for sports-related injuries. Considering there are more than 38 million children participating in organized sports, the overwhelming majority of children play fall sports without being harmed, but the risks are there. The good news, however, is there are several things you can do to help your child stay safe and avoid accidents on the playing field.
Here are some tips to help keep your athletes healthy so they can enjoy the benefits of sports participation for years to come:
Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a physical performed by a physician or nurse practitioner under the supervision of a physician. In addition, meet with the coaches before the first practice to inform them of history with asthma or other medical conditions that require special attention. If you are accompanying your kid to practice or a sporting event, be sure that you are ready for an emergency by keeping a small first aid kit in the car and knowing where the nearest hospital is.
Warm Up and Stretch
Make sure to set aside time before every practice and game to warm up properly. Stretching before practice and games is equally as important, as it can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Be sure to send your athlete(s) to practice and games with a water bottle and encourage to drink plenty of water before, during and after play. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of dehydration and other forms of heat illness. If you’re a coach, establish mandatory water breaks throughout practice and games – don’t wait for your athletes to tell you they’re thirsty.
It does not matter the age, wearing the proper gear is essential to participating in sports. Be sure to use appropriate and properly-fitted sports gear to prevent or reduce the severity of injuries. Additionally, make sure athletes use the correct equipment in order to participate in both practices and games. This may include helmets, shin guards, mouth guards, ankle braces, shoes with rubber cleats and sunscreen.
Follow a good diet
To offset the calories burned during your sport, be sure you're getting a well-balanced, nutritional diet that gives you enough energy. Avoid supplements, which aren't always guaranteed to be safe.
Play head-smart, not head-strong
Athletes and parents should be well educated on the risks and warning signs of concussion. If you suspect a concussion, seek medical assistance immediately. And, when in doubt, sit it out—one game or play isn’t worth a lifetime of concussion-related health issues.
Make Rest a Priority
To help avoid injury due to overuse, athletes should take breaks during practices and games. It is also important to encourage athletes to tell coaches, parents or another adult about any pain, injury, or illness they may have during or after any practices or games. Athletes should take at least one or two days off each week from any particular sport.
Be a good sport
Sportsmanship is important. Play by the rules, communicate positive safety messages and serve as a model of safe behavior.
Remember, sports are fun and injuries can be prevented. Take the time to warm up properly, listen to your body and if something happens unexpectedly, seek early medical evaluation. As always, The Smith Clinic is here to help!
We often get questions about what physical therapy actually is and how is it different from other healthcare specialties. So, we thought we would to take a moment to answer some of those questions, by providing you with 6 interesting facts you may not know about physical therapy. Check out these little-known facts about its origins, benefits, and how it differs from other forms of treatment:
There’s nothing like enjoying homemade fruit popsicles on a hot summer day. The problem with the store-bought variety, however, is that they typically contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Making homemade fruit popsicles are a great alternative and an ideal way to add more nutrients into your day without using refined sugar (not to mention, a really fun way for kids and adults alike to experiment in the kitchen!).
So, cool off and take a "bite" out of summer by trying some of the following delicious popsicle recipes...you won't regret it!
Peach Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
Blackberry Lemon Popsicles
Chocolate Fudge Paletas
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
Pinch of sea salt
Cherry Lime Popsicle with Honey
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 cups cherries
1/3 cup lime juice
In order to help you get to know us a little better, we thought it would be fun to feature staff members from time to time. That said, please allow us to introduce you to one of our fabulous PT's: Chris Markham.
Holding a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (with concentration on Orthopedic and Manual Therapy) from the University of St. Augustine School for Health Sciences, Chris also has a Master's Degree in Exercise Science from Mississippi State University and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association. When asked about his reason for choosing PT as a career, Chris stated, "The prospect of being able to help people get out of pain and improve their quality of life was something that really appealed to me. It was only natural that I entered the field of physical therapy. Through the use of proven, hands-on therapies and the many modalities available at The Smith Clinic, I am able to address a wide variety of conditions. I find that educating patients about their condition makes a positive impact on their recovery and can decrease their chances of re-injury.”
Chris is truly one of kind, with the unique gifts of compassion and a gentle spirit. We are so blessed to have him as a part of The Smith Clinic family!
The "rotator cuff" is the group of 4 muscles and their tendons responsible for keeping the shoulder joint stable. Injuries to the rotator cuff are common—either from accident or trauma, or with repeated overuse of the shoulder. Risk of injury can vary, but generally increases as a person ages. Rotator cuff tears are more common later in life, but also can occur in younger people. When left untreated, a rotator cuff tear can cause severe pain and a decrease in the ability to use the arm.
A recent study in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery looked at whether or not physical therapy can help avoid surgery on a rotator cuff tear. The MOON Shoulder Group, which is a multi-center network of research teams around the country, followed a group of 381 patients with atraumatic full-thickness tears of the rotator cuff for a minimum of two tears. The patients performed 6-12 weeks of nonoperative physical therapy focusing on basic rotator cuff strengthening, soft tissue mobilization, and joint mobilizations. At the six-week mark, patients were assessed and 9% chose to have rotator cuff repair surgery at that point. At 12-weeks, an additional 6% chose to have surgery, and, in total, 26% of patients decided to have surgery by the 2-year follow-up mark. That means nearly 75% of patients avoided rotator cuff repair surgery by performing physical therapy despite having full thickness cuff tears.
Physical Therapy can help you reduce the worsening of the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear and even decrease your risk of worsening a tear, especially if you seek assistance at the first sign of shoulder pain or discomfort. To avoid developing a rotator cuff tear from an existing shoulder problem, it is imperative to stop performing actions that could make it worse. Your physical therapist will help you strengthen your rotator cuff muscles, train you to avoid potentially harmful positions, and determine when it is appropriate for you to return to your normal activities.
To maintain shoulder health and prevent rotator cuff tears, we recommend that you:
If you are suffering from the symptoms due to a rotator cuff tear, call us today. We can get you the help and relief you need and get you back to doing the things you love without experiencing pain!
It’s that time of year again ... time to exchange your winter gloves and snow shovel with gardening gloves and watering cans! While the warmer weather brings on a sense of energy and desire to plant, we need to make sure to use proper body mechanics to avoid muscle aches and potential serious injuries. Below are a few tips to make gardening experience more enjoyable and less painful:
Lifting heavy objects such as bags of soil, planters and mulch improperly can lead to low back strains and/or sciatic pain. Alternative options include moving half of the soil/mulch to a separate pot before lifting the bag or planting in to smaller pots that are easier to maneuver. Another suggestion would be using a garden cart or wheelbarrow to assist with moving heavy gardening materials.
Prepping the soil can be a difficult and tedious task requiring prolonged forward bending and frequent changes in position. We suggest trying to prep the planting bed by using long-handled gardening tools, and, once the soil is ready, plant from a kneeling position using either a kneeling stool or a cushion. Those with known chronic low back pain may want to consider planting in to pots, flower boxes or raised flower beds to avoid further injury.
Most people dislike weeding their gardens and flower beds. An alternative to reduce the need to weed include using plants as ground cover or using mulch in your flower beds to minimize weed growth. If using a weed spray, look for bottles that have a sprayer hose to allow you to stand upright while treating your problem areas.
MOWING THE LAWN:
The action of pulling a cord to start your mower is the most common cause of low back injuries. If you must use a pull start mower, remember to bend at your knees and maintain the natural curve of your spine while reaching for the cord. Make sure you tighten your abdominal muscles just before pulling the cord in order to support your spine. If using a push mower, remember to maintain proper upright posture and take breaks as needed.
Stretching before you start gardening can help you from experiencing pain later. Here are some stretching techniques to help get you started:
1.) Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
2.) Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
3.) Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back further. This is a stretch for the triceps. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
4.) Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend in the wrist downward. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the wrist backwards. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
There are many physical health benefits of gardening. In fact, it’s even classified as a physical activity! In fact, the simple activities of gardening, when done correctly, can strengthen bones and joints, keep your muscles strong, and help increase stamina and flexibility. Just make sure you listen to your body. Take frequent breaks and change positions when you start to experience aching, cramping or fatigue. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. And, if you do happen to experience low back pain or any other injury, please do not delay in contacting The Smith Clinic. We can help alleviate your symptoms as well as educate you on proper body mechanics!
Now that the weather is warming up, you might be thinking about adding some fresh new recipes to the mix! This article from EatingWell.com shares some yummy and HEALTHY options to spice things up AND keep you eating healthy this Spring!
Stretching of the joints, muscles, and nerves is very important to ensure there are no imbalances throughout the musculoskeletal system. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, in turn helping maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight. Below are 5 stretches that may help relieve symptoms you may be having in your back.
LUMBAR EXTENSION STRETCHES
These are good for individuals who may have a disc herniation. They should be performed with caution for anyone who has spinal stenosis or any known fractures in their vertebrae.
Prone Press Up: Begin by lying on your stomach, elbows bent underneath you and palms flat on the surface. Keeping your hips and pelvis in contact with the surface, lift your upper torso off the mat with your arms, keeping your back muscles relaxed. Only go as high as you are comfortable. Perform 10 repetitions holding each one for 10 seconds each, working your way to 30 seconds.
LUMBAR FLEXION STRETCHES
Flexion based stretches are good for those with spinal stenosis or tightness through the lower lumbar musculature.
Single Knee to Chest: Begin by lying on your back with both knees bent. Bring one knee up towards your chest. Perform 2-3 repetitions, holding each one for 15-30 seconds. You may feel a stretch along the lower back or buttocks area. You may also perform this with both legs up towards your chest if it is comfortable.
Prayer Stretch or Child’s Pose: This stretch is for the lower back muscles along the spine and is a very common yoga pose. On your hands and knees, sit back with your buttocks is resting on your heels. Reach your hands forward to lengthen your spine and feel a stretch in your middle back. You can reach your hands to either side to focus the stretch on the opposite side of your spine. Hold for 10-30 seconds and perform 2-3 repetitions.
Angry Cat Stretch: This stretch can incorporate both an extension and a flexion component. You may perform either way or just one way if that is more comfortable for you. On your hands and knees, let your belly sag towards the table to increase extension through your spine (lumbar extension picture). To increase flexion through your spine, arch your back upwards, bringing your spine away from the table (lumbar flexion picture). You may hold each position for 5-20 seconds and repeat several times.
Just as you can stretch a muscle, you can stretch a nerve. Nerve stretches are very important to perform if you have any radiating pain from your lower back into your buttocks or legs. Nerve stretches are also very important to perform after lumbar surgery to ensure that there is no scar tissue adhering the nerve to any internal structures.
Sciatic Nerve Stretch: This stretch should be performed if the majority of the radiating pain into the legs is felt in the buttocks, back of the leg, and/or through the calf and foot. This follows the pathway of the sciatic nerve. By stretching the nerve, it can help to desensitize it so that it will not cause as much pain. Perform this stretch by lying on your back with your hand behind one knee, preferable the leg with the sciatic pain. Straighten your knee then alternate flexing your ankle back and forth. Hold your ankle in each position for a few seconds. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretching program to make sure there are no restrictions in the type of stretching you should do (this is especially true if you have recently had spine surgery). Also, let your doctor know if you are experiencing pain when stretching, as pain may be an indication that your technique is incorrect or that you have an injury or some other medical problem. Over time and when done correctly, however, doing back related exercises and stretches can help reduce your back pain.