Posted November 7, 2014 by Fit PT
If you think you have rocks in your head, you might be right! Every year, millions of people in the United States develop vertigo, a spinning sensation in your head that can be very disturbing. Like an on-going carousel ride in your head.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common types of vertigo. It is surprisingly common, effecting nearly 10% of older adults. BPPV is an inner ear problem that causes short periods of dizziness when your head is moved in certain positions. It occurs most commonly when lying down, turning over in bed, or looking up. This dizzy sensation is called vertigo.
Our bodies primary system for balance is called our vestibular system. Although only about the size of a dime, without an intact vestibular system, we would fall flat on our faces. We literally couldn’t stand up straight without it.
The vestibular system is very complex structure housed within our inner ear. It is made up by a series of semicircular canals, named by their anatomical location. Inside the canals are tiny calcium crystals, sometimes called “ear rocks”. BPPV occurs when these tiny rocks break off and move to another part of the canal, usually the posterior canal. (Hopefully these terms don’t make your head spin!)
When you move your head a certain way, the crystals or rocks move inside the canal and stimulate the nerve endings, causing you to become dizzy. The crystals may become loose due to trauma to the head, infection, conditions such as Menieres disease or aging, but in many cases there is no obvious cause.
No medication has been found to be effective with BPPV. Fortunately, most people recover from BPPV with a simple but very specific head and neck maneuver performed by a physical therapist trained in vestibular disorders. The maneuver is designed to move the crystals from the semicircular canal, back into the appropriate area in the inner ear.
I recently had a patient come to see me for another condition but during her evaluation we discovered she became dizzy when she moved her head in certain directions. I learned from her that this dizziness had been going on for several years but she had rationalized living with it, thinking it was “just part of getting older”. “A quick exam confirmed BPPV and within two treatments her symptoms were completely resolved. She could hardly believe it was so easy, and is grateful to not have that dizzy feeling any longer.
In my experience, this maneuver is as close to a miracle cure that we have in physical therapy. Usually, within one to two visits we can completely rid a person of BPPV and the misery of the vertigo.
Although our treatment for this condition is usually a slam-dunk, it can sometimes reoccur. If it does reoccur it usually can be treated again with similar successful results. There are many other causes of balance and dizzy problems and often requires a team approach between physical therapy, audiology, and medical doctors to adequately diagnosis and treat. If you think you have rocks in your head, you may be right. If you are dizzy, it is worth you time to get it checked out by a medical professional trained in vestibular and balance problems.
filed under: Physical Therapy
Posted September 1, 2014 by Fit PT
If you have had low back pain, you are not alone. At any given time, about 25% of people in the United States report having low back pain within the past 3 months, and 80% of us will have low back pain at some point in our lives.
Now for the good and bad news. The good news is that most cases of low back pain resolve within a few weeks on its own. The bad news is that low back pain can and often does return, like a bad penny, and can progressively worsen over time.
The symptoms of low back pain vary a great deal. Your pain might be dull, burning or sharp. You might feel it at a single point or over a broad area. Sometimes, it might spread into one or both legs. The one thing all low back pain has in common; misery!
There are 3 different types of low back pain:
Often, low back pain occurs due to overuse, strain, or injury. It could be caused by frequent or strenuous bending, twisting and lifting. Too much sitting can also be a contributing factor. Low back pain can come on all at once, or gradually over time. Sometimes, the actual cause of low back pain isn’t always readily apparent.
Although low back pain is rarely serious or life threatening if you ever have low back pain accompanied by loss of bowel or bladder control, or numbness in the groin or inner thigh, seek medical attention immediately. It might indicate a serious condition called “cauda equina syndrome” at which the nerves at the end of the spinal cord are being squeezed.
There are several conditions that may contribute to low back pain, such as: degenerative disk disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, herniated disks, osteoarthritis, and fractures.
In chronic and recurrent cases, x-rays and other imaging diagnostic tests such as an MRI may be done to determine the cause of your back pain. Because not all low back pain is the same, treatment should be tailored for your specific symptoms and conditions. Often a visit to your primary care provider is a good starting point. In some cases, they may refer you to a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment.
As experts in restoring and improving mobility and movement in in peoples lives, physical therapists play an important role, not only in treating persistent or recurrent low back pain, but also in preventing it, and reducing your risk for having it come back, like a bad penny.
Here are a few simple tips to help prevent low back pain:
filed under: Physical Therapy
Posted August 19, 2014 by Fit PT
You have probably heard of physical therapy. Maybe you had a conversation with a friend about how physical therapy helped get rid of his or her back pain, or you might know someone who needed physical therapy after an injury or surgery. You might even have been treated by a physical therapist yourself. But have you ever wondered about physical therapists—who they are and what they do? In my 14 years as a physical therapist I have noticed that most people know a little about PT, but often are not aware of our profession, our educational background and the variety of services we provide.
What we do in physical therapy, (also known simply as PT) has been around a long time. Hippocrates was known to employ the healing benefits of massage and hydrotherapy in ancient healing. The earliest modern day physical therapists worked in hospitals treating patients with Polio and injured soldiers from World War II.
Today, physical therapists are highly educated, licensed health care professionals who work in a variety of settings. The education levels of physical therapist are similar to pharmacists and lawyers. In about 3 years after college, physical therapists receive either a Masters or Doctorate Degree in physical therapy. Some therapists choose to specialize in specific areas and take additional tests to certify them as board certified clinical specialists. You will find PT’s working in a variety of workplaces including outpatient clinics, hospitals, skilled nursing homes, home health care and with athletes and sports teams.
I believe the two most important concepts we emphasize in physical therapy are movement and function. Healthy movement is the ability to move freely without pain and restrictions. When we stop moving, or move poorly or un-evenly, our bodies will pay for it sooner or later. The old saying: ‘use it or lose it’ is so true. Healthy function is when we can live, work, and play without pain or injury.
As physical therapists we are trained to diagnose and treat movement problems. We seek out the source of the problem and strive to restore proper movement and balance in our patients. It is a process that can take some time, but can yield long lasting results. We value our role as a conservative alternative for those looking to avoid surgery or taking medication for their problems.
For me, the most rewarding part of being a physical therapist is seeing the quality of life improve in a patient. When a patient can move better, with less pain, and return to those things that are most important to them, we are successful!
Nevada is known as a Direct Access state, which means you can see a physical therapist directly, without a physician referral. Most insurance plans have a physical therapy benefit. If you have insurance, sometimes a physician referral is required to see a physical therapist, and sometimes it is not. Check your plan or call the clinics in our area for more information. We are fortunate to have several good therapists in our community. Keep in mind that regardless of whether your physician refers you, or you come to a physical therapy clinic directly, you always have a choice of where to receive physical therapy care. We hope you choose to Get To Fit, and if you do, we promise to do all we can to help you feel better, move better and live better!
filed under: Physical Therapy