Category Archives: Physical Therapy

Low Back Pain – a Bad Penny

Posted September 1, 2014 by FIT Physical Therapy

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:

  • Acute—pain lasting less than 3 months
  • Recurrent—acute symptoms come back
  • Chronic—pain lasting longer than 3 months

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:

  • Participate in regular strengthening and stretching exercises to keep your back, stomach and leg muscles strong and flexible.
  • Keep your body in alignment, so that it can be more efficient when you move.
  • Keep good posture—don’t slouch
  • Use good body positioning at work, home, or during leisure activities.
  • Keep your spine straight and the load close to your body during lifting.
  • Ask for help before lifting heavy objects.
  • Maintain a regular physical fitness regimen—staying active goes a long ways in preventing many types of injuries, including low back pain.

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filed under: Physical Therapy

What is Physical Therapy?

Posted August 19, 2014 by FIT Physical Therapy

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!

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filed under: Physical Therapy