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7 Myths About Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are movement experts who help people reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active throughout life. But there are some common misconceptions that often discourage people from seeking physical therapist treatment.

It's time to debunk 7 common myths about physical therapy:

1. Myth: I need a referral to see a physical therapist.

Fact: A recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) revealed 70% of people think a referral or prescription is required for evaluation by a physical therapist. However, a physician’s referral is not required in order to be evaluated by a physical therapist. Some states have restrictions about the treatment a physical therapist can provide without a physician referral.

2. Myth: Physical therapy is painful.

Fact: Physical therapists seek to minimize your pain and discomfort—including chronic or long-term pain. They work within your pain threshold to help you heal, and restore movement and function. The survey found that although 71% of people who have never visited a physical therapist think physical therapy is painful, that number significantly decreases among patients who have seen a physical therapist in the past year.

Physical Therapy as Treatment for Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is the most common diagnosis seen in many physical therapy clinics, and it affects nearly 85-90% of Americans at one time or another. It is the second leading cause of visits to a doctor, after the common cold. Low back pain is also the leading cause of lost time at work, and billions of dollars are spent each year diagnosing and treating low back pain.
 

Low Back Anatomy
The low back, or lumbar spine, consists of five bones, or vertebrae, stacked upon one another. Between the bones are soft, spongy shock absorbers called intervertebral discs. The spinal cord and nerves are protected by these bones. Multiple ligaments and muscular attachments provide stability and mobility to the lumbar spine.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a procedure used to treat neck problems such as cervical radiculopathy, disc herniations, fractures, and spinal instability. In this procedure, the surgeon enters the neck from the front (the anterior region) and removes a spinal disc (discectomy). The vertebrae above and below the disc are then held in place with bone graft and sometimes metal hardware. The goal is to help the bones to grow together into one solid bone. This is known as fusion. The medical term for fusion is arthrodesis.

Operating on the back of the neck is more commonly used for neck fractures. That procedure is called posterior cervical fusion.

What parts of the neck are involved?

Surgeons perform this surgery through the front part of the neck. Key structures include the ligaments and bones, intervertebral discs, the spinal cord and spinal nerves, and the neural foramina.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

If you stand up from your chair and feel a pain in your lower back, it could be your SI joint acting up. Don't let it get the best of you! Take charge with a treatment plan that brings relief.

What Is the SI Joint?
Its full name is the sacroiliac joint. There are two of them in your lower back, and they sit on each side of your spine. Their main job is to carry the weight of your upper body when you stand or walk and shift that load to your legs.

What Does the Pain Feel Like?
It could be a dull or sharp. It starts at your SI joint, but it can move to your buttocks, thighs, groin, or upper back.
Sometimes standing up triggers the pain, and a lot of times you feel it only on one side of your lower back. You may notice that it bothers you more in the morning and gets better during the day.

Physical Therapy for Neck Pain Relief

Physical therapy is one of the most common treatments for chronic neck pain. Most physical therapy programs for neck pain involve applying treatments to reduce pain and/or stiffness enough to begin an exercise program of strengthening and stretching the neck. The specific methods and exercises used in physical therapy, as well as the duration of the treatment plan, can vary from person to person.

Goals of Physical Therapy for Neck Pain
Physical therapy for neck pain typically includes the following goals:
•    Reduce pain and stiffness
•    Improve head and neck range of motion
•    Develop dynamic strengthening of the neck and its supporting musculature
•    Develop strategies to prevent pain from recurring


Even if pain cannot be completely eliminated, physical therapy may play an important role in improving neck posture and function for daily movements.

Juvenile Arthritis

What is juvenile arthritis?
Juvenile arthritis is a disease in which there is inflammation (swelling) of the synovium in children aged 16 or younger. The synovium is the tissue that lines the inside of joints.


Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease. That means the immune system, which normally protects the body from foreign substances, attacks the body instead. The disease is also idiopathic, which means that no exact cause is known. Researchers believe juvenile arthritis may be related to genetics, certain infections, and environmental triggers.

Physical Therapist's Guide to Total Shoulder Replacement (Arthroplasty)

Total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA), often called a total shoulder replacement, is a surgical procedure in which part or all of the shoulder joint is replaced. It is estimated that 53,000 people in the United States have shoulder replacement surgery each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. That number compares to the more than 900,000 Americans a year who have knee and hip replacement surgery. Physical therapists can help patients who undergo a TSA return to their previous levels of physical activity, including fitness training, or participation in sports like swimming or golf.

What is Total Shoulder Arthoplasty?
Total shoulder arthroplasty is a surgical procedure in which part or all of the shoulder joint is replaced. It is performed on the shoulder when medical interventions, such as other conservative surgeries, medication, and physical therapy no longer provide pain relief. The decision to have a TSA is made following consultation with your orthopedic surgeon and your physical therapist.

Hyperkyphosis

Hyperkyphosis is a spinal deformity causing a forward-curved posture of the upper back (thoracic spine). Posture is the characteristic way you position your body; posture changes many times throughout the day due to a variety of factors, including what you are doing and how long you have been doing it. Sometimes, however, a person's posture can cause the thoracic curvature to become excessive and stiff, making it difficult to change. Such is the case with hyperkyphosis (sometimes called “humpback,” “round back,” or “dowager’s hump”). This condition can affect people of all ages, but the thoracic curvature most often begins to increase in people over 40 and continues with advancing age. It is believed that 20% to 40% of older adults—both men and women—will develop hyperkyphosis.


What is Hyperkyphosis?
Hyperkyphosis is a spinal deformity that occurs when the natural forward-curving shape of the upper back becomes excessive. It results in the appearance of rounded shoulders with the head and neck positioned forward of the trunk. People with this condition often have difficulty standing up straight. The worsening of the curvature is associated with a higher risk of health problems, including back and neck pain, breathing difficulties, and falls.

Meniere’s Disease

What is Meniere’s disease?
Meniere’s disease is a disorder that affects the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance. The condition causes vertigo, the sensation of spinning. It also leads to hearing problems and a ringing sound in the ear. Meniere’s disease usually affects only one ear.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that 615,000 people in the United States have Meniere’s disease. Around 45,500 people are diagnosed each year. It’s most likely to occur in people in their 40s and 50s.

Meniere’s disease is chronic, but treatments and lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms. Many people diagnosed with Meniere’s disease will go into remission within a few years after their diagnosis.

What Is Osteopenia?

Think of it as a midpoint between having healthy bones and having osteoporosis.

Osteopenia is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis.

Your bones are usually at their densest when you’re about 30. Osteopenia, if it happens at all, usually occurs after age 50. The exact age depends how strong your bones are when you're young. If they're hardy, you may never get osteopenia. If your bones aren't naturally dense, you may get it earlier.

Osteopenia -- or seeing it turn into osteoporosis for that matter -- is not inevitable. Diet, exercise, and sometimes medication can help keep your bones dense and strong for decades.

Who Is Most Likely to Get It?

This condition happens when your body gets rid of more bone than it is creating.

Physical Therapist's Guide to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder, or dysfunction, (TMD) is a common condition that limits the natural functions of the jaw, such as opening the mouth and chewing. It currently affects more than 10 million people in the United States. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as simply “TMJ,” which represents the name of the joint itself. TMD affects more women than men and is most often diagnosed in individuals aged 20 to 40 years. Its causes range from poor posture, chronic jaw clenching, and poor teeth alignment, to fracture or conditions such as lockjaw, where the muscles around the jaw spasm and reduce the opening of the mouth. Physical therapists help people with TMD ease pain, regain normal jaw movement, and lessen daily stress on the jaw.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common condition that limits the natural function of the jaw, such as opening the mouth and chewing, and can cause pain. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull in front of your ear. The TMJ guides jaw movement and allows you to open and close your mouth and move it from side to side to talk, yawn, or chew. TMD can be caused by:

Physical Therapist on Building Better Posture

Bad posture can lead to health problems.

What Is Good Posture, And Why Is It Important?
"To me, good posture is carrying your body in a way that is mechanically safe," Patel says. "So, that means that your spine is in its natural curves, which allows the muscles to activate from the inside out, and gives us a solid foundation for when we need to move.

"If we sit in poor posture for long periods of time, essentially our brain begins to create a strong connection between the way that we're sitting and how we want our muscles to be activated all the time. So we begin to create these pathways, which are essentially shortcuts. And so instead of our brain being wired to access movement in a mechanically sound way, it then starts to access movement more from the outside in, which essentially sets us up for injury down the line."

Tips from the Experts

Tips from the Experts

Posturing for Good Posture


Poor posture is habitual. If you or your child demonstrates bad posture, it is highly likely that poor habits have manufactured it. We’re typically born with ‘normal’ curves in our spine that naturally place us in “good posture.” Read more ...