Low back pain has become one of the largest causes of pain and disability in the United States. Billions of dollars are spent on trying to care for and remedy this issue. People are advised by friends, coworkers, and physicians to seek out certain types of treatment such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, medicines, diets, or other newfound treatment approaches.
So what to do? If your back is hurting which track do you pursue?
While pain can be a very complex problem there have been ways that consistently show how someone can at least better manage their pain if not altogether get rid of it. The Journal of Pain Research has proposed factors to consider when deciding how to address your pain.
Obviously, physical problems within your muscle or nervous system can be a direct cause of your pain. Structures in your body can become quite sensitive to pain causing a compounding problem that never seems to resolve. Even having a sedentary lifestyle or being deconditioned can cause structural deficits which can cause pain with movements or mobility.
Another area can be more of an environmental factor such as work satisfaction, perceptions or demands at your job or even the attitudes of your employer. These can cause a higher risk or predictability of pain.
Some people also say, “I have a ‘high’ or ‘low’ tolerance for pain.” These pain-related beliefs and attitudes can have a real effect on someone’s ability to recover from a painful condition. Often time someone’s expectations, beliefs, or perception of their condition can have a direct effect on their ability to overcome the condition.
Our attitude as physical therapists is to educate each individual on their specific condition, so they understand what will positively and negatively influence their symptoms. Also, we promote that the person have an ACTIVE involvement in trying to manage their care. Many studies have shown that individuals who actively participate in managing their condition do better than those who passively receive care.
You may be faced with many recommended options to help take care of your back pain. We would recommend that you first understand that there can be many causes of your back pain and especially many things influencing the level of your perception of pain. We feel a conservative approach such as physical therapy often helps people to manage or alleviate their symptoms. If physical therapy doesn’t work for you, there are other options that you can pursue as well.
Give us a call to sign up for a free consultation if you'd like one of our physical therapists to sit down and talk with you about your low back pain, and discuss what PT can do for you.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
You commonly hear terms like sprain, strain, broken bone, fracture, tendonitis, and bursitis, but do you know what they mean? We’re going to break down some common diagnoses so if your doctor tells you that you strained your hamstring, sprained your ankle, or your child broke their arm, you know a little more about what exactly that means.
Strain vs. Sprain
STRAINS are the overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons (tendons are the dense tissue that connects bones to muscle). For example, if you're carrying something very heavy with poor form and injure your back, it may be a muscle strain in muscles of your back.
SPRAINS are the overstretching or tearing of ligaments (the bands of tissue that connect bones together in a joint). A common sprain you've probably heard of is an ACL tear or sprain (ligament in the knee joint), or an ankle sprain (most commonly in ankle sprains the anterior talofibular ligament on the outside of the ankle is overstretched when the foot rotates inward).
Both strains and strains can be debilitating depending on the severity of the tear/stretch. Both can lead to swelling, pain, and limited flexibility.
Fracture vs. Break
Fractures and broken bones are the same thing. There are many different types of fractures, but all involve trauma to a bone due to the stress on the bone being greater the the strength of the bone.
This stress on the bone that causes is to "break" (fracture) can be caused by different circumstances:
Tendonitis vs Bursitis
Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon (like we talked about earlier, the tendon connects the muscle to bone and is tissue making up a chord-like structure). You've probably heard of rotator cuff tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons that make up the rotator cuff).
Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae, which is a fluid-filled sacs that cushions bones and tendons/muscles to reduce friction.
Bursas and tendons are located near each other, and tendinitis and bursitis share some common symptoms. Often tendinitis and bursitis often occur concurrently at a given joint. These similarities cause the two terms to be assigned incorrectly when there's pain and swelling at a joint.
If you are suffering from a sprain, strain, fracture, or other musculoskeletal injury and live in the Hudsonville, Jenison, Grandville, or West Michigan area and need physical therapy, give us a call! These types of injuries are our specialty and it's our goal to get you better efficiently so you can get back to your favorite activities this Spring!
By: Lisa Pfotenhauer,
Cert. Exercise Physiologist
We have already talked about the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy (see blog post below, PT vs. OT), so now let's talk about the difference between physical therapy and chiropractic work.
To reiterate, physical therapy is the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as exercise (strengthening, stretching, neuromuscular training, etc.), hands-on treatment, massage, and other modalities (heat, electrical stimulation), rather than by drugs or surgery.
A chiropractor is a practitioner of the system of integrative medicine based on the diagnosis and manipulative treatment of misalignments of the joints. A chiropractor works to correct subluxations, which is a partial dislocation or a slight misalignment of the vertebrae, regarded in chiropractic theory as the cause of many health problems.
The main difference between a chiropractor and physical therapist is the chiropractor focuses on your body’s alignment, and physical therapy focuses on a person’s posture, proper joint motion, strength, and mobility from an injury, surgery or disease.
By: Rebecca Popma
We get a lot of questions about the difference between physical and occupational therapy, many people think they are the same thing but actually they are very different!
Physical Therapy is the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as exercise (strengthening, stretching, neuromuscular training, etc), hands-on treatment, massage, and other modalities (heat, electrical stimulation), rather than by drugs or surgery.
Occupational Therapy: a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.
To put it very simply, physical therapy is getting you back from an injury or surgery, occupational therapy is learning or relearning to perform daily tasks efficiently.
We focus on physical therapy here and have three physical therapists here that have over 20 years of experience each and specialize in many different areas, including back, neck, knee and shoulder injury or post-operative rehab. In January we added an occupational therapist, Laurie, to our team, and we are excited to accept new patients for occupational therapy.
Although PT and OT are very different, they do overlap in many areas:
• Teach people how to prevent and avoid injuries
• Both educate people about the healing process
• Both assist people with improving their ability to perform daily activities through training and education
Call us or your doctor if you have questions regarding which is right for you!
By: Becca Popma
Vertigo is defined as a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; dizziness, loss of balance, loss of equilibrium, or spinning.
There are two types of Vertigo: peripheral vertigo and central vertigo.
Central vertigo is less common and is caused by the central nervous system (primarily the brain).
Peripheral vertigo is by far the most common. There are five types of peripheral vertigo:
1) Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
2) Meniere’s Disease
3) Vestibular Neuritis
4) Acoustic Neuroma
Of the five, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is, by far, the most common.
Common symptoms of BPPV are dizziness, loss of balance, spinning and even nausea. The cause of BPPV is the disturbance of the inner ear crystals.
Physical therapy is often used to treat BPPV. Physical therapists screen each patient to see is their vertigo is BPPV, and if it is, there are several maneuvers used by PT’s to realign the crystals of the inner ear. Often the symptoms can be resolved or significantly improved in just 1 – 2 visits.
The first step, if you suffer from vertigo, is to see your medical doctor or physical therapist. If he or she diagnoses you with BPPV, try physical therapy. It might be a safe, quick and drug free approach to feeling better.
Brian Colvin, PT
While we may laugh at this old quote from a commercial, the reality of balance problems is becoming significant in our ever-aging population.
Balance problems can occur from a variety of issues including:
- Joint stiffness
- Inner ear problems
- Certain medications
- Lack of activity or sedentary lifestyle
- Simply aging
Balance problems can also be caused by medical conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, cognitive diseases, or diabetes.
Balance issues can also occur when one or more systems in the body are not working properly including: vision, inner ear, muscular system, awareness of your own body position (proprioception).
A person may feel dizziness, instability, vertigo, or a sense that there falling. They may be fine while standing still, but as soon as they move or change position they may suddenly lose their balance. This often causes fear in performing simple daily tasks and causes the person to becomes more and more sedentary. It becomes a vicious cycle of loss of conditioning and decreased activity level.
It is important to identify how your balance issues occur. How often do you have them? What are you doing when you experience them? What medications do you take? Have you had your vision or ear checkup recently? Do you have any other medical conditions or problems?
Physical therapy can offer numerous options for treating balance problems based on each person’s needs. Therapist look at multiple systems of the body including muscles, joints, inner ear, eye tracking ability, skin sensation and positional awareness of the joints. They are experts at prescribing active movement techniques and physical exercise to improve the systems, including strengthening, stretching, proprioception exercises, visual tracking and inner ear retraining.
This can help you reduce fall risks, reduce the fear of falling, improve mobility, improve balance and strength, improve your movements, and increase your activity levels.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
TIGHT HAMSTRINGS are a common contributor to BACK PAIN!
There are lots of ways to stretch your hamstrings, and here's one:
Find a step or chair to prop one foot up on, and lean forward at the hips, pulling your belly button toward your thigh (not hunching over to bend your back). Lean until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the back of your thigh, and hold for about 30 seconds on each side.
This may help your low back pain, because your hamstrings affect your pelvis position, and this can put stress on your low back.
Remember, there are LOTS of causes of back pain, so it's always best to get it checked out by a PT or your Dr!).
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
In this day and age we are so used to a pill to help us “heal” anything and everything. For many injuries and pain, pills can minimize the discomfort but do not take care of the real issue. When you don’t want to rely on medication and want to take care of the real problem, there is physical therapy.
So what is physical therapy exactly?
Physical therapy is noninvasive treatment for the body using movement, stretching, and strengthening to rehabilitate. Your therapist works with you to improve your flexibility, strength, and function.
What are the benefits of physical therapy?
Why would people choose physical therapy over surgery or medication?
A lot of the time, people just want a “quick fix”. Physical therapy can be as quick as one or two visits, or in some cases can take a 2 or 3 visits per week for a couple months. It is not a magic pill and it can take time and putting in the work, but in the end it is often quicker and less expensive than the alternatives. A few reasons to consider physical therapy include:
Dealing with pain? Give us a call to set up a FREE consultation to see if physical therapy is the best option to effectively treat and eliminate the source of your problem. You may be able to avoid surgery, medications, and the discomfort of living with your pain or issue. 616-662-0990
By: Becca Popma
Physical therapy is a great first option when you are injured, because it’s non-invasive and highly effective for many types of aches and pains! If you do require physical therapy, consider coming to see our caring team at Hudsonville Physical Therapy. We want to help you get better quickly! Here are a few ways we stand out:
1. Our facility has a very experienced staff! Our 3 therapists have over 70 years of combined experience. Our therapists love to learn and take continuing education courses to learn the latest research and techniques, to make sure you’re getting the most effective treatment.
2. Our clinic offers one-on-one treatment with a licensed Physical Therapist. We don’t use aides or assistants, and we try to keep patients with their same therapist every session because we believe this one-on-one attention with the same therapist will result in the most effective treatment.
3. We are in network with almost all insurances (including Medicaid and Medicaid products), and are one of the most cost-effective options in West Michigan. Insurance surverys (including Priority Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicare Plus Blue, and Blue Care Network surveys) rank us in their top tiers for effectively utilizing visits and helping patients recovery quickly.
4. Our clinic offers early appointments (starting at 6:30 am), appointments over the lunch hour, and after school times, as late as 5:15 pm.
Remember, you have a choice and can go wherever you want for physical therapy. We would love to help you through your recovery process. If you have any questions about scheduling, cost and insurance, or your injury, please call us at 616-662-0990.
By: Brian Colvin, PT
We are seeing more and more people who come into therapy having done some for a fair amount of research on their conditions. We applaud this and strongly encourage our patients to be as educated as possible about their condition and how to resolve it.
However, one of the major pitfalls that we frequently see is when someone comes in believing a certain exercise or approach will guarantee them success. Unfortunately, every person’s situation is unique. Often, these “cookie-cutter” approaches are a convenient way to pacify or imply a quick fix to your problem.
As physical therapists, we believe that a program customized to your specific, individual condition will yield the best and most efficient results for your rehabilitation, which might look different than that of another person struggling with pain in the same body area. We want to use a laser-focused approach rather than a scattered, catch-all approach. Tailoring the program to meet your specific needs will focus your intention on your specific goals and deficiencies rather than being overwhelmed by too much information in an inefficient program. Not only is this more efficient, it is also safer and more likely to be effective since we identify the cause of the problem in your evaluation.
For example, back pain could be caused by arthritis, a disc bulge, inflammation, or something completely different. Although these may manifest in a similar back pain, the treatments for these different causes would look completely different.
The Internet provides a vast amount of information, some good, some bad. You can learn a lot about your condition and potential treatment options by doing a little research. Try to look at things from all points of view – not only as a patient, but also as a physician, or even a physical therapist! Typically, there is not a “magic cure” that guarantees complete healing to a particular body part, but knowing your treatment options is a powerful tool in helping you decide which course of action to take.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Steve Bartz, PT