Do I Need Physical Therapy?

4 Ways Physical Therapy can be Helpful

Physical Therapy is designed to treat musculoskeletal conditions. It can help people of all ages that suffer from conditions which cause pain and discomfort and make performing daily activities difficult. The physical and occupational therapists at Greater Therapy Centers are focused on helping patients get better by developing a customized treatment plan for each patient.  Whether you are dealing with a chronic condition or an acute injury, physical therapy could be just the thing you need.  Below are four benefits of physical therapy.

Improves Movement

Physical therapists are movement experts. If you have trouble getting around or experience discomfort while walking, you may benefit from physical therapy.  Physical therapists use stretching and strengthening exercises to help improve muscle movement which can help reduce pain.

Promotes Recovery from Sports Related Injuries

Physical therapists are well versed in injuries related to sporting activities.  At Greater Therapy Centers the physical therapists treat athletes of all different skill levels.  Whether you are playing in a neighborhood softball league or competing on a professional level, a physical therapist can design a exercise/conditioning program customized for you and your specific sport.

Prevents Surgery

Physical therapy can help to reduce pain and improve function which could eliminate the need for surgery.  Most surgeons will prescribe physical therapy for their patients prior to surgery. A physical therapist can develop a treatment plan focused on strengthening the muscles in a specific area of the body which can help patients recover from injuries without surgery.

Improves Balance

If you have trouble keeping your balance or have issues with falling, physical therapy may be able to help.  At your physical therapy session your therapist can provide you with exercises geared to improving your balance.  Therapists can also help select an assistive device such as cane or walker, to make walking safer.

 

There are many benefits to physical therapy. If you have been dealing with an injury or illness that is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy, talk to your healthcare provider and ask if physical therapy is right for you.  Greater Therapy Centers has more than 20 locations throughout the DFW metroplex so you’re never too far from a great physical therapist. Just search “physical therapist near me” to start on the road to recovery or you can call us at (972) 420-6605 or email us at info@gtc-pt.com.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy are often confused with one another as they are both forms of therapy geared toward helping patients recover from injuries or illnesses. Each discipline, however, may have a different approach.  At Greater Therapy Centers we offer both types of therapy aimed to help people recover from injuries and illnesses related to the musculoskeletal system.  In this blog post we discuss the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Let’s start with defining each form of therapy.

What is Occupational Therapy or OT?

Occupational therapy is a form a therapy used to help people perform normal activities of daily living.  OT can also include treatment specifically focused on the hand, wrist and elbow aimed at restoring fine motor movement.  Occupational therapy can be useful for patients of all ages and can help patients with things like eating, getting dressed, working and participating in school activities.

What is Physical Therapy or PT?

Physical therapy is used to treat musculoskeletal injuries and disorders involving long muscle groups.  Physical therapy can include exercises, manual therapy, as well as stretching, dry needling and modalities such as heat, ice and electrical stimulation.

What is the difference between OT and PT?

Physical therapists are experts in movement and focus on helping patients who are dealing with injuries and illnesses that limit their movement or cause pain.  Occupational therapists tend to be more focused on maximizing a person’s independence and their ability to perform normal daily activities.

Wrapping up

Even though occupational therapy and physical therapy may have a different treatment approach, they both have a common goal of restoration of function.  Some of the ways OT and PT overlap include a focus on patient education, injury prevention, and helping patients regain quality of life.

Greater Therapy Centers offers physical therapy at all locations and occupational therapy options at their select locations throughout Dallas and Fort Worth.   If you or a loved one has been experiencing pain related to an injury or illness talk to your physician about incorporating physical or occupational therapy into your treatment plan. With more than 20 locations throughout DFW, just search “physical therapy near me” and get started today.

Dizziness is something that many adults suffer from, yet few know what to do when presented with the symptom.  Luckily, we can treat that too!

My patients who suffer from vestibular symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and disequilibrium are often surprised to be prescribed physical therapy by their medical doctor and are uncertain of my ability to help them.  However, vestibular rehabilitation is actually a large subset of physical therapy and can be very beneficial for those who suffer from vestibular disorders.

 

WHO CAN BENEFIT?

If you suffer from the following symptoms, you may be a candidate for vestibular rehab:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Spinning
  • Disequilibrium
  • Unsteadiness
  • Feeling of falling
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Difficulty focusing on objects in view
  • Sensitivity to lights or busy patterns

These symptoms may occur with various movements such as looking up, bending over, turning over in bed, or walking.

 

WHY DO I HAVE THESE SYMPTOMS?

The vestibular system is comprised of the inner ear and part of the brain that work together to orient our body in space, control our eye movements, and maintain our balance along with our vision and proprioception (sense of position).  Problems with the vestibular system will result in the symptoms above and can be attributed to one of two disorders:

  1. Peripheral vestibular disorder, which is a problem with the organs of the inner ear.
  2. Central vestibular disorder, which is a problem with a part of the central nervous system (in the brain).

 

HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?

Peripheral vestibular disorders are treated with repositioning maneuvers, which are a series of specific head and body positions performed with the assistance of your physical therapist.  The most common peripheral vestibular disorder is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).  It occurs as a result of a small calcium carbonate crystal becoming displaced within the semicircular canals of the inner ear.  When the head is moved in a certain plane, the crystal will shift, stimulate nerve hairs in the canal, and send false signals to the brain, which in turn causes a spinning sensation.  BPPV is typically treated successfully with the canalith repositioning maneuver that moves the crystal out of the canal.  Once this happens, spinning should resolve though some patients may require a different maneuver to be performed or may continue to have non-specific dizziness or imbalance that can be treated with the exercises described below.

Central vestibular disorders are treated with a cluster of highly customizable exercises intent on compensating for vestibular damage by learning to use other senses as a substitute.   Three common methods are:

  1. Habituation, which is repeated exposure to symptom-provoking movements or stimuli that will eventually be ignored by the brain with time and practice.
  2. Gaze Stabilization, which is designed to improve control of eye movements to promote better focus of objects during movement.
  3. Balance Training, which is aimed at challenging a person’s balance in order to improve steadiness during more simple activities.

 

If you or someone you know is currently suffering from a form of dizziness, see your medical doctor to rule out cardiovascular problems then ask for a referral for physical therapy.

 

Jennifer Canales, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT
Greater Therapy Centers in Lewisville – Vista Ridge/Hebron

 

 

Resource: https://vestibular.org/understanding-vestibular-disorder

Improve Your Posture

If there’s one thing all loungers, hard workers, athletes, parents, and everyone in between should aspire to obtain, it’s good posture. Working on your posture is different from getting back into shape or trying to eat healthier. Your body craves being in a good, upright postural position, which is often compromised with such factors as poor positioning at your desk or bad habits like slouching while standing. Bad habits and uncomfortable living or work environments create tension for your whole body, which can affect your body’s natural alignment.

What does it mean to have bad posture? Your muscles and ligaments are all naturally positioned specifically for your spine and are unique only to you. However, when you begin to fall into poor postural habits your muscles begin to shift to accommodate for this change. This continued shift alters your muscular balance with added tension to some muscles and weakness/laxity to other muscles causing added strain to your back, neck, and other areas of your body. This poor muscular balance can lead to those dreaded 9 to 5 aches and pains.

With practice, sitting up straight is as easy as it sounds.

Why Good Posture is Great for You

Besides decreasing back, shoulder, and neck pain, your body alignment can offer a host of other benefits.

Better posture taps into your body’s overall wellbeing. Here’s a look at why good posture is essential to keeping your body moving.

  • Keeps heartburn at bay: It all comes back to alignment. In addition to aligning joints and muscles, sitting up tall and straight gives your organs plenty of room to function properly, making digestion easier.
  • Feel better for longer: We’ve mentioned how your joints benefit from good posture, but there’s more to it than injury prevention. We might experience neck and back pain due to bad posture, yet the increased wear and tear can lead to more severe conditions like arthritis if not corrected.
  • Mind and body communication: Have you ever heard that posing like a superhero will boost your confidence? Power posing releases hormones that give you a sense of drive while decreasing stress. Sitting up straight will make you feel better physically and mentally.

Posture is essential for your overall health. Now it’s time to discuss how to make good posture your new habit.

Exercises for Posture

Great posture starts with a bit of practice. When in doubt, think about aligning your joints. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hips and knees at 90 degrees. Tuck your tailbone in and put weight on your sit bones rather than your back. If you don’t have good lumbar support for your chair, placing a rolled up towel at your low back can help you achieve good lumbar alignment. Whether you’re sitting or standing, make sure to keep your shoulders away from your ears in a relaxed position.

Once you start to feel your joints’ natural position, you can step it up a notch with some exercises.

  1. The Cobra

The cobra helps you maintain a straight, strong back. Practice the cobra by laying on your stomach with your hands flat on the floor next to your chest. Push your torso up so your back stretches but keep the lower half of your body on the floor. Your head and spine should be in a straight line. Then, lower back to the floor slowly. Be sure to only push up as high as you can without pain.

  1. Chest Opener

Opening up your chest keeps you from slouching forward and keeps your shoulders away from your ears. When opening your chest, clasp your hands behind your back and stretch your arms straight out behind you. Only push as far as is comfortable for you.

  1. Cat-Cow

This exercise is excellent for stretching your spine through its full range of motion. Start on all fours with your palms resting comfortably on the ground. Arch your back toward the ceiling and let your head drop toward the floor. Slowly lower your spine toward the floor, arching your back downwards and lifting your head to the ceiling.

These are just a few of the great exercises to stretch your body out and optimally align your posture. After years of slouching good posture might seem unattainable but with Greater Therapy Centers you can get to where you want to be. It’s never too late to improve your mobility!

Living in Texas you never really know what kind of weather you are going to have, but you can bet that at some point the weather is going to get hot and you are going to want to be able to throw on your swim suit and head to the beach, or the lake, or even the neighborhood pool.  When that time comes we want to you feel strong and confident.  Greater Therapy Centers has more than 20 locations spread throughout DFW and though we typically work with patients who are overcoming an injury or illness, we know quite a bit about getting a body in tip top shape.  In this blog post we share 5 of our favorite exercise tips which focus on getting the body swim suit ready.

5 Exercise tips that will get you swim suit ready

  1. The Plank

Start with both your hands and knees on the floor. Gently lower your forearms to the floor making sure to position your elbows directly under your shoulders and keep your hands shoulder width apart. Now step your feet back forming a straight line from your heels to your head.  Tighten your abs.  Your head should be facing the floor with your gaze slightly in front of your face. Hold for 1 minute.

  1. Squats

With your feet a little wider than hips width and your toes facing forward, sit back and down.  Imagine you are sitting in a chair.  Keep your head straight and forward the entire time.  Repeat 20 times.

  1. Lunges

Start with a straight upper body, shoulders should be back and relaxed with your chin up.  Step forward using one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent. Your goal is to get to a 90-degree angle. Keep your front knee above your ankle and don’t let your other knee touch the floor. Push back up to the starting position keeping the weight in your heels. Repeat 20 times.

  1. Step Ups

Place one of your feet on a bench or chair and press through that same foot as you step up on the bench, bringing your other foot up on the bench so you are standing on the bench. Return to your starting position by stepping down with one foot and then the other.  Repeat 20 times.

  1. Push Ups

Similar to the plank position start with both hands and knees on the floor.  Hands should be directly under the shoulders or slightly wider.  Kick your feet back one at a time.  Slowly lower your body down to the ground keeping your elbows at a 45 degree angle to your body. Repeat 20 times.

Wrapping Up

One of the great things about the five exercises mentioned above is that they can be done without specialized equipment and can really be performed anywhere. If you aren’t quite ready to start your own exercise program at home or if you or someone you love has been dealing with pain related to an injury or illness, physical therapy might be able to help.  Talk to your physician and ask them if physical therapy could be beneficial for you. Greater Therapy Centers has more than 20 locations, offering physical therapy in Rockwall, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Alliance as well as other cities throughout Dallas/Fort Worth.  Just search “physical therapy near me” to get started or call us at 972-420-6605 or email us at info@gtc-pt.com.

We all know that posture is important and something we should strive to improve, but in a world where we spend a significant portion of time working on computers, staring at our cellular phones, or sitting in traffic it may seem like a daunting task.  Improving your posture will require effort on your part, but the health benefits are worth it and there are tools available to help you take on this formidable opponent.

 

Why should I make a change today?  As a physical therapist, I see the impact of posture on a daily basis.  Some conditions I treat are related to an obvious injury such as a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or a surgery.  Other conditions are not so easily attributed to such an injury and can be linked to a person’s seemingly harmless daily activities such as sitting for 8 hours at a desk or performing repetitive movements with the upper extremities.  This can lead to chronic pain in various areas of the body, especially the neck, back, and shoulders.

 

How do I begin?  I recommend you start by learning what YOUR best posture looks like.  Follow these simple steps:

  1. Sit up tall. Attempt to lengthen your spine without over arching your lower back or lifting your chin.
  2. Bend your elbows to a 90° angle, with arms comfortably alongside your torso.
  3. Keeping your elbows beside you, open your hands and forearms outward.
  4. Take a deep breath in, then hold your breath.
  5. Place your hands on your lap, keyboard, steering wheel, etc.
  6. Without moving your shoulders or head from this position, exhale and breathe normally.
  7. Maintain this position while resuming your activities. Recheck yourself often; try setting a timer to remind you every 30 minutes if at work.

 

What else do I need to do? 

  • Build your environment around YOU. Don’t adjust yourself to fit your environment.   For those who work a desk job, proper workstation set-up is imperative.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website offers great resources to help assist you in this task.
    https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/index.html
  • Another tool that is becoming more popular for sedentary jobs is the “sit to stand desk.” There are many brands available at local office stores and online.   Using such a device alone will not automatically fix your posture, therefore you still must follow the guidelines available on the OSHA website above.  A transitional desk also provides the added benefit of a small boost in energy expenditure during your workday.
  • There’s an app (and a gadget) for that. Check out the Upright Go, available on Amazon, if you need an extra nudge to keep your posture consistent.  They also carry lightweight, discrete posture correcting braces that can be worn while working at your desk.
    https://www.amazon.com/stores/UPRIGHT/page/7C167D00-4232-4E6F-ABBD-C884456013F0?ref_=ast_bln
  • Obtain a prescription for physical therapy at the first sign of neck or back pain. Your physical therapist will help determine the cause of your symptoms, which may be a simple yet important change to your posture or positioning.  Your therapist can help you find your ideal posture, assess your workstation, and teach you techniques to assist you in more easily maintaining your correct posture during various activities.

 

Jennifer Canales, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT
Greater Therapy Centers in Lewisville – Vista Ridge/Hebron
Work Email: jcanales@gtc-pt.com
Fax: 844-364-1304

 

Resources:

  1. Tim Kruchowsky, PT, DPT, OSC, FAAOMPT, Director of Clinical Education and Senior Faculty of The Manual Therapy Institute.
  2. osha.gov
  3. Gibbs BB, Kowalsky RJ, Perdomo SJ, Grier M, Jakicic JM. Energy expenditure of deskwork when sitting, standing, or alternating positions. Occup Med. 2016.
  4. Amazon.com

7 Exercise Tips for the Winter

If you’re like many of us, you might get a bit complacent with your exercise routine given the number of holiday treats and activities this time of year. Even without the additional pressures, cold weather can be difficult to exercise in if you don’t take the proper precautions.

At Greater Therapy Centers, we know all about how life can get in the way of our health, which is why we do everything we can to give you the tools needed to keep moving. The following are our tips for a safe and active winter.

 

Don’t skip the stretch.

As the cold weather sets in around North Texas, our muscles start to tighten up. Stretching before and after every workout is necessary for our body to stay loose and injury-free during exercise.

 

Participate in 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Winter has a strong association with bundling up on the couch and staying put all day long, which can be nice at times, but this is also a good way for you to lose all the progress you’ve made in your recovery or routine thus far. A great way to keep moving is by finding something to do for 30 minutes each day, whether it’s a simple exercise or something more intense.

 

Go slow on the warmup.

Give your body some time to warm up if it’s cold outside. Stressing muscles too quickly in cold weather can quickly lead to pulled muscles and strains.

 

Stay hydrated.

The risk of dehydration is still prevalent in cold weather, especially if the winter is a dry one. Sweat evaporates more quickly in dry air, which means it is just as important to stay hydrated while working out in cold weather as it is in warm weather.

 

Find other ways to stay active.

If it’s too cold for you to workout outside, try to keep up your exercise routine by finding strength or flexibility workouts indoors. Yoga channels can be great for these types of exercises. Plus, you can do wonders for your mental wellbeing!

 

Dress according to your body temperature.

Layers that help wick the moisture from your body are a good start to dressing for the cold. Depending on how cold it is, you can add layers for insulation or fight against wind chill. The important thing to remember is that you’ll heat up as you start working out, so don’t bundle up just to overheat when you begin moving.

 

Try to fall on your side without your hand breaking the fall.

A common injury we see in the winter are those that have happened during icy weather. It’s great to keep up your exercise routine but be cautious of ice. If you do fall, try to land on your side to protect your head and back. Avoid using your hands to break the fall, as this can lead to fractures.

 

It’ll be easier to get back to your normal exercises as long as you stay active this winter. Still, you should always be aware of the risks of wintery weather. Stay safe, stay active, and keep up the good work!

How to Prevent Pain When You're Working from Home

Keeping your body relaxed and comfortable at work shouldn’t be complicated. Now that many of us work from home, it should really be the opposite of complicated. If you’ve experienced an increase in neck or back pain, you’re not alone. The fact is, not many people had a work setup ready to go at home when the pandemic first started to prevent us from going into the office.

Your home should be a place of comfort no matter what you’re doing. We want to ensure that’s the case while you do what’s necessary for your work. Here’s what you can do at home to easily improve your mobility and productivity.

 

It’s All in the Setup.

One thing that should be common knowledge is the ergonomics of your workspace. A big part of this is your body’s ideal positioning in relation to your work appliances.

  • Your Computer: Without tilting your head down or up, the top of your computer monitor should be at eye level. You might have to adjust your seating position or the monitor height. A good monitor stand will come in handy, but stacks of books or other objects could work too! Set your monitor at least an arm’s length away to prevent strain.
  • Your Seat: When you’re sitting for long periods of time, you want to keep your back and neck in a straight line, whether that means sitting straight up or reclining. Reclining in your chair or bed isn’t bad for you as long as you maintain proper posture. If you have to tilt your head too much, you will experience increased neck issues.
  • Your Desk: Your arms and hands shouldn’t be at a 90-degree angle but rather tilted downward slightly. This position reduces the strain on your shoulders, wrists, and elbows. To help take more pressure off your wrists, invest in a comfortable wrist pad when you use your keyboard and mouse, which help reduce carpal tunnel.

 

Other Tips & Tricks

Don’t sit for too long! Prolonged weight on your lower back is a huge problem for office workers, so get up and move every 30 minutes at least. You can try taking meetings on your phone and walking around your space or alternating between a sitting and standing desk.

For those with upper back pain, the positioning of your surroundings is crucial. The key is to take as much strain off your neck and shoulders as possible. Reclining now and then is a great way to resolve upper back tension. Get a Bluetooth keyboard so you can work from any position.

Additionally, while your monitor is at eye level, your feet should be flat on the floor, with your thighs and hips sitting comfortably at 90 degrees. The first thing to adjust might be your seat then your monitor height to get the perfect setup.

 

Don’t Let Chronic Pain Get in the Way

Chronic pain can be a burden in anyone’s life. Our job is to keep that from being the case in yours. If your new work from home set up still doesn’t help your neck, head, wrist, or elbow pain, come see us. We’ll create a tailored physical therapy treatment plan that’s perfect for you.

Physical Therapy in Dallas / Fort Worth for Ankle

Stand while holding a firm support like a counter top or back of a chair.  Lift both your heels up until you are on the balls of your feet, then lower slowly to the ground.  Hold and repeat as advised by a Physical Therapist at Greater Therapy Centers.

Physical Therapy for Basketball Injuries

 

Basketball is a fast paced game and because it involves a lot of repetitive movements, injuries are common.  The most common basketball related injuries typically involve injuries to the wrist or ankle but it is possible to have injuries occur to other body parts as well.  The physical therapists at Greater Therapy Centers understand sports related injuries and therefore can help develop an exercise plan specific to treating basketball injuries. Here’s what you need to know about some of the most common basketball injuries.

Ankle Sprain

Typically a result of twisting or turning, an ankle sprain is a very common basketball injury. An ankle sprain is an injury to the soft tissue of the ankle, usually a ligament. Therapy may involve treating the swelling and pain with ice or electrical stimulation.  At Greater Therapy Centers, physical therapy in Dallas/Fort Worth, your therapist may utilize techniques like joint mobilization or balance training to help increase movement and build the muscles around the ankle.

Achilles Tendon Problems or balance

Achilles tendon problems are common among basketball players, or anyone involved in jumping sports.  Injuries to the Achilles tendon may include bursitis, tendonitis, and Achilles tendon ruptures. Physical therapy treatment for these issues vary depending on the type of injury.  Physical therapy for Achilles tendon injuries in Dallas/Fort Worth may include ultrasound or interferential current to decrease pain and swelling.  Once the inflammation is under control your physical therapy for an Achilles tendon problem will focus on improving strength, flexibility, and proprioception or balance.

Mallet Finger

Mallet finger can occur when there is an injury to the distal interphalangeal joint, or tip of the finger. This is a common injury in basketball as it can occur when the tip of the finger is struck with a ball.  If left untreated, the finger won’t be able to straighten all the way thus resulting in a permanent deformity.  Non-surgical treatment options for mallet finger may include continuous splinting for six weeks.

Biceps Tendonitis

Biceps tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the forearm or shoulder.  This injury is typically due to overuse of the biceps.  Physical therapy for biceps tendonitis can be very effective.  The goal of physical therapy for biceps tendonitis is to decrease pain and inflammation.  Therapy treatments may include electrical stimulation, or ultrasound, rest, massage, stretching and strengthening exercises as well as home exercises.

 

Quick and appropriate treatment for basketball injuries will help minimize the amount of time it takes to recover from a basketball related injury.  You can always search “physical therapist near me” and since Greater Therapy Centers has more than 20 locations throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, we’re sure to show up. If you or a loved one is suffering from a basketball related injury, talk to your doctor and see if physical therapy would be beneficial. Give us a call today at (972) 420-6605 or email us at info@gtc-pt.com and get started on treatment for your basketball related injury.