Tag Archive for: movement

Headache sufferer

5 Signs your Headaches are coming from your Neck

Headaches impact approximately 47% of the population and are one of the most common disorders of the nervous system. If you suffer from headaches regularly, then you already know how disruptive they can be on your work life, social life, daily activities, and just overall energy and well-being. 

But what makes headache management particularly challenging is how often they are misdiagnosed. The most common types of headache disorders are what’s known as primary headache disorders – and those include migraines, cluster headaches, and tension-type headaches. But you could also be suffering from a secondary headache disorder – which is caused by some other illness or physical issue. One of the most common forms of secondary headache is something called a “cervicogenic headache” – meaning it comes from your neck. They can be quite debilitating and are commonly confused with migraines – but there are some key signs to look for that make them different. 

Let’s look at 4 signs that might indicate your headache is coming from your neck:

1. Headaches worsen with certain neck movements

If you find that certain movements or positions of your neck exacerbate your headaches – it could be a sign that your headaches are coming from your neck. Sometimes it’s very specific movements that trigger a headache – such as tilting your head forward or backward – or turning it from side to side. But other times it’s less obvious and related to more prolonged postures. For example, I’ve had patients experience headaches from sitting at a bar for several hours and turning their head to a certain side to talk to their friend. Pay attention to whether certain neck movements or positions create discomfort in your neck that either precedes or worsens your headache. It could mean that your headache is coming from a source in your neck.

2. Your Neck is Stiff

Another telltale sign of neck-related headaches is limited mobility or range of motion of your cervical spine (neck). If you find yourself struggling to turn your head fully, or you experience pain and stiffness when attempting to do so, it could indicate an underlying issue in your neck that is causing your headache. A common saying in my office is “mobility before stability”. If the joints in your neck don’t move fully and freely, the structures around those joints (muscles and nerves) can become angry and irritated – and this could be the source of your headaches.

3. Tenderness in your neck muscles

If you routinely have sensitivity and tenderness in the muscles of your neck – it could indicate an underlying neck problem. If you notice that your headaches seem to get triggered whenever the tension or tenderness in your neck muscles worsens – then there’s a good chance your headaches are coming from your neck. The muscles of your neck can get tense and irritated for a number of reasons – most commonly because of poor posture or because they are being overused in some capacity. Since your neck muscles have direct and intricate attachments to the base of your skull – they can be a common cause of your headaches.

4. Location of your Pain

A headache that stems from the base of your skull and stays on one side of your head – often radiating into your temple or behind your eye – is a common sign that your headache is coming from your neck. If you tend to get associated shoulder or arm pain at the same time as your headache – it’s another indicator your headache could be cervicogenic. That’s because the nerves in your neck extend into these areas and are capable of radiating pain into these locations. If you suffer from chronic headaches, pay attention to where the pain is coming from or where it’s radiation. If it’s extending beyond your head – there’s a good chance your headaches are coming from your neck.

5. Massage and Chiropractic Manipulations Help.

If you find temporary relief from your headaches any time you get a massage or see a chiropractor, it’s almost certain your headaches are cervicogenic. While it’s great you’ve found pain relief – the problem with relying on these modalities is that they are completely “passive” – meaning – you don’t have an active role in the process of relieving your headaches. Passive modalities work great when paired with specialized, corrective exercises you can do on your own that are designed to prolong the effects of these treatments. But when passive treatments are used in isolation – the headache relief tends to be short-lived. The take home point here is that if you find treatments like massage and chiropractic treatment help – your headaches are almost certainly coming from your neck.

If you suffer from debilitating headaches and haven’t yet gotten your neck thoroughly checked out as a source – you should. Because when your headaches originate from a source in your neck, it’s entirely possible to learn how to treat it and manage it naturally and on your own. But you’ll need to work with a specialist who understands cervicogenic headaches as well as the associated mechanical joint components influencing them.

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH? CLICK HERE to speak with one of my specialists for free.

Knee Pain Causes

Six Tips to Improve Knee Pain Naturally and on Your Own

When you’ve got persistent, nagging knee pain – it can have quite the impact on your quality of life. But the good news is there is plenty you can do naturally and on your own to help relieve knee pain, even if you’ve been suffering for years.

Here are 6 of my top tips for how you can improve knee pain naturally and on you own:

  1. Strengthen Your Hips and Core:

Your hips and core provide essential support and stability to your entire body, but especially your lower limbs and knees. Strengthening this important muscle group is a key component for not only relieving knee pain, but preventing it as well. When you’ve got weakness or imbalance in your hips and core, it leads to poor alignment and compensatory stress on your knees during movements like walking, running, or squatting. Strengthening your hips and core will improve overall biomechanics, reducing the load placed on the knees and preventing excessive wear and tear.

  1. Get (and stay) Flexible:

One saying you’ll hear me repeat over and over is: “mobility before stability”. That’s because when you’ve got stiffness in your joints, the surrounding muscles will try to compensate. And muscles don’t work as well when the joint they are in charge of moving doesn’t have full and free mobility. Good and optimized joint mobility will enhance the body’s ability to move efficiently and with proper body mechanics, reducing the strain on your knees. By increasing (and maintaining) your flexibility and range of motion – your body will move more freely and distribute forces more evenly throughout your joints and muscles – thus – reducing the risk of overload on your knees.

  1. Interrupt Your Sitting:

Knee pain can come directly from your knee, but also from your spine (even when you don’t have any back pain). When you interrupt your sitting often throughout the day, this addresses both potential causes. For knees in particular, prolonged periods of sitting can cause stiffness, and lead to poor blood circulation in and around your knee joint. Sitting for extended periods can also lead to tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings, which can negatively impact knee alignment and function. By taking regular breaks to stand up, stretch, or move around, you can relieve pressure on your knees, maintain good joint mobility, and prevent muscle imbalances that will only lead to more knee pain over time.

  1. Get (and keep) Moving:

Regular movement and exercise helps to stimulate blood flow. And if you’ve got inflammation in your knees causing pain, good blood flow helps to reduce inflammation by delivering essential nutrients and oxygen, while also removing waste products. If your knees are on the arthritic side, engaging in low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, or Pilates can help build strength and endurance around your knees without putting excessive stress on the joints. Regular movement also helps lubricate your knee joints, which can reduce friction and discomfort during daily activities. And perhaps the biggest benefit of regular exercise and movement is the release of endorphins – which are your body’s natural painkillers that can help alleviate discomfort in any joint, not just your knees.

  1. Choose Sensible Footwear:

The right (or wrong) footwear can make a huge difference in how your knees feel with walking, running, or standing. When you’ve got proper footwear, it provides the support and cushioning you need to reduce impact on your knees. Depending on the mechanics of your feet and ankles, footwear can also help to enhance or improve your alignment and stability. By choosing footwear that prioritizes comfort, support, and proper alignment, you can effectively reduce knee pain and improve your overall joint health.

  1. Improve Your Balance:

Good balance is important for a lot of reasons, namely, it allows you to have good stability and control during movement, and it reduces your fall risk. But having good balance can also reduce the strain in your knees. That’s because having good balance requires the coordination and strength of your postural muscles, feet, and ankles to all work together and distribute forces evenly. When that doesn’t happen, your knees tend to overcompensate and suffer. So working to improve and maintain balance can help to decrease the stress on your knees by getting other joints and muscle groups to “join the party”.

If you’ve been suffering from knee pain for awhile and not yet incorporating any of these 6 tips into your daily or weekly routine, get started now and see if it helps.

If knee pain is getting in the way of you even being able to incorporate some of these tips, then it’s time to speak with a physical therapy specialist. They will help you identify the root cause of your knee pain and come up with a treatment plan that is designed to get rid of your pain – and teach you how to keep it gone – naturally and on your own.

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH? Consider speaking with one of my specialists to see if we would be a good fit to help! CLICK HERE to request a free discovery visit.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her Knee Pain Free Report CLICK HERE  or to get in touch, email her at [email protected]

Vertigo

6 Tips for Managing Debilitating Vertigo at Work

“Vertigo” is the sudden onset of dizziness, spinning and nausea that often stops you in your tracks without any visible signs or warning. If you’ve ever experienced vertigo, then you know the debilitating effects it can have on your daily life and ability to work. For those that haven’t experienced vertigo – it can be difficult to explain. Your co-worker will never understand why you missed that deadline. Your boss won’t understand why you had to miss work for the past three days.  All because for 72 hours, the room has been spinning on and off, and you couldn’t spend more than five minutes reading on your computer before you felt the vertigo coming back on. 

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of suffering from vertigo is the unknown. By definition, vertigo is a symptom that occurs due to a miscommunication between your vestibular system (responsible for balance and spatial orientation) and your brain’s interpretation of those signals. When the signals are mismatched – the result is vertigo – that awful, uncontrollable sensation of spinning or dizziness.

What does this look like in real life? 

You could turn your head slightly too far or slightly too fast and bam – here comes the dizziness. You could get up from a chair or out of bed too quickly and suddenly the room is spinning. Vertigo has the ability to quickly and without notice turn the ordinary, mundane parts of your day into the scariest parts of your day… Suddenly everything from driving, working at a computer, walking to lunch, or getting up to go to the bathroom become debilitating and unreliable. Every single one of these tasks not only becomes difficult – but often the scariest parts of your day as well.  becomes the scariest part of your day. Why? Because every single one of these tasks requires balance and coordination – and when your vestibular system and brain don’t cooperate – these things become extraordinarily difficult.

While there are many underlying causes to vertigo, and only a vertigo specialist can determine this, there are some things you can do to mitigate the onset of vertigo so that it doesn’t continue to impact your work day. 

Here are tips for managing debilitation vertigo at work:

1. Utilize Blue Light Filter Glasses

Prolonged screen time can exacerbate vertigo symptoms, and these glasses work to block harmful blue light emitted by digital devices. By alleviating the eye strain associated with screen time, these specialized glasses create a more comfortable visual experience, potentially lessening the likelihood of triggering or worsening vertigo episodes during your work day – especially if your work involves extended use of the computer.

2. Wear Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise sensitivity often accompanies vertigo. Using noise-canceling headphones can create a quieter work environment for you, minimizing any overstimulation that might trigger or worsen your vertigo episodes. When you reduce auditory input, you’ll find it easier to focus, and it will be a calmer sensory experience for you at work.

3. Opt for a Swiveling Computer Chair

A swiveling chair offers the flexibility to rotate your body when shifting between screens or tasks. This minimizes abrupt head movements, which can trigger vertigo. The ability to turn your body rather than constantly turning your head can significantly reduce the risk of a debilitating vertigo episode happening during your work hours.

4. Find a Stable Focus Point During Physical Activities

Engaging in physical tasks that might induce dizziness can be challenging. If you experience vertigo during physical movements, find a stable object or point in your surroundings and focus on it. This fixed reference point can help recalibrate your balance and reduce the sensation of dizziness.

5. Be Mindful or your Movement and Pace

Sudden and quick movements are known to trigger episodes of dizziness and spinning from those suffering from vertigo. When you mindfully and purposefully slow down – you alleviate the stress on your vestibular system. This can go a long way in helping to minimize triggers that may exacerbate your vertigo symptoms.

6. Ensure Adequate Lighting

Aside from your vestibular system, your vision also helps significantly with balance. By ensuring ample lighting in the workspace – you can help compensate for the disruptions caused by vertigo. Well-lit environments provide clearer visual cues, assisting in maintaining balance and reducing the risk of falls during a vertigo episode.

If you’re currently suffering from vertigo – or have been dealing with vertigo on and off for years – perhaps it’s time to consult with a physical therapy vertigo specialist. The right practitioner will perform specialized tests to identify if your root cause is movement based – and can determine if you need to see a neurologist or eye specialist instead or in conjunction. By going this route first, you can determine if the cause of vertigo can be successfully treated naturally , and avoid treatment approaches that involve medications or procedures that you might not need. But in the meantime, hopefully some of these strategies help you create a more manageable work environment if you suffer from vertigo on a regular basis.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or seat in her upcoming Masterclass for Vertigo Sufferers – visit www.cjphysicaltherapy.com – or call 603-380-7902

Running Over 50: Top 3 Injuries and What you can Do

If you love to run, then you’re probably no stranger to running injuries.

But if you love to run and you’re over 50, not only are you more likely to suffer a running-related injury compared to runners half your age, but you’ll tend to suffer from different categories of injuries as well. In older runners, we tend to see more soft-tissue related injuries versus problems with joints and stress fractures. Part of this is due to the fact that older runners may have been running longer. This predisposes them to more long-term wear and tear that is typically associated with soft tissue injuries like tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis. Older runners also are more likely to have altered their running mechanics over time, another factor that leads to injury. Either way, the good news is that once you know what to look for, you can take proactive measures to prevent these common running injuries as well as treat them naturally.

Here are the top 3 running injuries I see in people over 50 and what you can do:

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by a sharp, stabbing pain in your heel or bottom of your foot. It often worsens with the first steps in the morning or after long periods of rest. This discomfort comes from inflammation in your plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. Factors such as overuse, improper footwear, high arches, flat feet, and tight calf muscles can all contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, whether you’re a runner or not.

Prevention measures for plantar fasciitis include incorporating regular stretching and self-massaging of your plantar fascia and calf muscles before and after running. Balance exercises that focus on strengthening the intrinsic muscles of your foot, along with maintaining a healthy weight can also help – as it will allow you to better control and manage the load that gets transmitted through your plantar fascia. But what if you’re already suffering from pain due to plantar fasciitis? Don’t just resort to rest and ice, which has been known to impede healing. Plantar fasciitis requires prescriptive loading of your muscles in order to remodel the damaged tissue. This, along with non-invasive treatments such as Shockwave Therapy designed to enhance blood flow to the tissue, can aid in accelerating your healing.

2. Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome)

Runner’s knee is a term used to describe a variety of conditions that cause pain around the kneecap (patella) – and is often synonymous with patellar tendonitis. You’ll notice your runner’s knee most during activities that require knee bending, walking downhill, or descending stairs. Overuse of your quadriceps muscles, poor tracking of your patella, and any other muscle or joint imbalance that results in increased load to the front of your knee can all result in runner’s knee. 

Regular and balanced strength training of the muscles around your knee – particularly of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles – is a key prevention strategy. Making sure you have good ankle and foot mobility is also important. Because if your foot doesn’t move well when you run, unwanted forces move up the chain into your knee, eventually leading to runner’s knee. If you’re already suffering from runner’s knee, then you’ll want to first mitigate your pain. Similar to plantar fasciitis – rest and ice won’t do much for you. Getting blood flow to the area – followed by carefully prescribed exercises designed to restore your mechanics and properly load your patella tendon – is what’s going to heal the irritated tissue in and around your knee and make it stronger.

3. Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis presents as pain and swelling in the back of your heel or lower calf. Right where your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Your Achilles pain will typically be most prominent during or after running. It may be accompanied by stiffness when flexing your foot. While the causes of Achilles tendinitis are very similar to that of plantar fasciitis, we see this occur most often with sudden increases in intensity or duration of training. Particularly, this happens when your body is not adequately prepared.

A gradual increase in training load, regular calf strengthening and stretching exercises, and proper warm-up and cool-down regimens can go a long way in preventing Achilles tendinitis. Be cautious of your footwear as well. Minimalist running shoes have become extremely popular. But, if you move into them too quickly, your Achilles tendon could become irritated due to the sudden change in load and force. If you’re already suffering from Achilles tendinitis, the treatment is quite similar to that of plantar fasciitis. The exception is that when it comes to tissue loading, you’ll want to focus more on your lower calf and Achilles tendon, versus the plantar fascia.

With all of these conditions, keeping yourself healthy and in good shape is crucial for prevention.

Enlisting the help of a running coach is also a good idea. They can address any potential issues with your running mechanics that may have occurred over the years. If you’re picking up running for the first time, or returning to it later in life, take it slow and easy. Consider talking to a movement expert who can detect and analyze any imbalances in your body. They can ensure that you’re moving and exercising correctly. Imbalances will cause you to compensate. This is not something that will be immediately obvious to you – until it’s too late.

Pickleball

Six Reasons to Try Pickleball this Father’s Day

If you’re looking for something fun and active to do this Father’s Day – why not try a game of Pickleball?

If you haven’t yet heard of pickleball – it’s quickly become one of the most popular racket sports in the country. It’s a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Since the rules are fairly straightforward, it tends to attract people of all ages and skill levels – but it’s been a huge hit in the over-50 crowd. You can find both outdoor and indoor courts just about anywhere – and it provides a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to engage in a fun-filled day of friendly competition – while also honoring your favorite active dad.

Pickle ball also comes with a ton of health benefits. 

Here are 6 of my favorite reasons why pickleball is good for your health – and why I think you should give it a try this Father’s Day:

1. Get’s the Heart Pumping:

Since Pickleball is a dynamic sport – it keeps you on the move – making it an excellent cardiovascular workout. When you play pickleball regularly – it can improve heart health, increase endurance, and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Pickleball consists of both aerobic exercises as well as bursts of anaerobic activity – such as quick sprints and lunging on the court. This helps to elevate your heart rate in a way that is great for promoting overall hearth health and cardiovascular fitness.

2. Weight Management:

Everyone knows you need both diet and exercise to effectively manage your weight. When it comes to exercise – why not pick something fun that you know you’re more likely to do because it’s enjoyable. The continuous movement involved in the sport of pickleball helps to burn calories and increase your metabolic rate. But it’s not just cardio that pickleball is known for – there is a strength component too. This combination of both strength and cardio only adds to your calorie-burning – making it not only fun – but an efficient way to manage your weight.

3. Improved Balance and Coordination:

Pickleball requires you to move quickly, change direction, and react to the ball’s trajectory. These dynamic movements help to improve balance and coordination because they force the engagement of multiple muscle groups at once. When you have to anticipate shots from any angle, pivot at a moment’s notice, and reach for the ball – this helps to enhance something called proprioception – your body’s ability to sense position in space. Since pickleball is super popular with the over 50 crowd, anything that works on balance and coordination is something I support – since these two areas only tend to decline as you age.

4. Increased Strength and Endurance:

When you play pickleball – you have to do everything from swing the paddle, lunge at the ball, and reach for shots. These varied physical movements help to engage just about all the muscles in your body – particularly your arms, shoulders, legs, and core. When you play pickleball regularly – it’s going to lead to improved muscular strength and endurance. Plus, pickleball is generally low-impact – so you get to improve your strength and endurance while not having a huge negative impact on your joints.

5. Cognitive and Mental Benefits:

The strategic aspects of pickleball – such as shot placement, anticipating your opponent’s moves, and the adaptation to different playing styles – challenges your brain and enhances mental agility in a fun and active way. For example, just the hand-eye coordination required to track the ball and make split-second decisions sharpens your cognitive skills and improves your reaction time to things. When you play pickleball regularly – you’ll find that your focus, concentration, and overall mental well-being will simply improve.

6. Social Interaction and Emotional Well-being:

This is probably my most favorite health benefit of pickleball. For the younger crowd (30’s and 40’s) – it’s quickly becoming one of the hottest business and networking events out there. And for everyone else, it’s a fabulous social sport that encourages interaction and camaraderie. Regardless of who you play with – whether it be friends, family, or in a community league – pickleball fosters a sense of belonging and enhances social connections. Plus, the positive connections you find on the court can easily extend off the court – so it becomes a fun and active way to quickly expand your social circles and overall well-being. Your new pickleball buddy could suddenly double as your gym and walking buddy too.

So there you have it – six healthy reasons to try Pickleball if haven’t already.

And why not use Father’s Day as the perfect excuse to to make it a family affair. With any new activity, there’s always a risk of injury, so make sure you warm-up properly and go into  it with ease – especially if it’s your first time. And if you’re currently suffering from an injury that is keeping you from wanting to even try this super fun and accessible sport – consider talking to a movement or mechanical pain expert who can help you sort out what’s going on.

Are you local Portsmouth, NH?

Consider speaking to one of my specialists. Tell us everything that’s been going on with you, and determine for yourself if we’re the best people to help you. It’s a completely free, no-obligation appointment that will give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health – whether that’s working with us or not!

CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Session with one of my specialists.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media group. To get in touch, or request a free copy of one of her guides to back, knee, neck or shoulder pain, visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

tendinosis

Why the Difference between Tendinitis and Tendinosis Matters

Tendinitis and Tendinosis: Why the Difference between them Matters.

Many patients at our specialized physical therapy practice in Portsmouth, NH, suffer from either Tendinitis or Tendinosis. Tendinitis and Tendinosis sound very similar, and are often used interchangeably but they couldn’t be more different. And neither should their treatment regimen.

Tendonitis is an acute, short-term, inflammatory condition typically caused by repetitive overuse of your tendon.

Tendinosis, on the other hand, is a chronic, degenerative condition of your tendon that involves deterioration of collagen, a structural protein in your tendon.

Tendons are tight, yet flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect your muscle to bone. Without tendons, your muscles would be useless. Tendons are extremely organized, and the fibers are designed in a way to withstand and transmit high forces of tension so your muscle can function properly.

With tendinitis, your tendon becomes inflamed and irritated, typically due to repetitive overuse, and it will hurt when you try to move. The most common areas for tendinitis to occur are your elbows, rotator cuff (shoulder), patella (knee), and Achilles tendon (ankle).

Tendonitis is an acute condition, and the best treatment is to rest, apply ice, and sometimes take anti-inflammatories to control pain. But this should only be for a short period of time. From there, you want to figure out what caused the tendinitis to occur in the first place and address that.

Typically, it’s due to some sort of mismatch between muscle strength and the activity you need to perform, leading your body to compensate and put unwanted stress on your tendon. Once you figure out and correct this pattern, it’s very easy to get rid of your tendinitis.

When you don’t manage tendinitis properly, and it goes on longer than a few months, it can result in tendinosis.

Tendinosis is a very different condition where the fibers in your tendon actually start to break down. An important thing to note is that tendinosis no longer involves inflammation of your tendon. So using ice every day, resting it, and taking anti-inflammatories will not help you, and could even worsen the condition.

Second, since tendinosis involves disorganization and degeneration of the fibers that make up your tendon, you have to “re-organize” those fibers and get blood flowing to the tissue (actually create some inflammation). Unresolved tendinosis leads to progressive weakening of your tendon over time – making it easily susceptible to full blown tears. This is how so many folks tear their Achilles or rotator cuff, for example, “out of nowhere”.

So how do you treat tendinosis and prevent more serious problems from happening down the line?

You have to get blood flow to the area and re-organize those fibers so your tendon can work properly again. Passive treatments like ice, rest, and medicine will not help tendinosis.

The only exception is shockwave therapy (also known as Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology).

With shockwave therapy, high-energy sound waves stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms by increasing blood flow to the injured, affected area. The increased blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissue to help accelerate healing and reduce inflammation.

With pain reduced and the healing process promoted, your tendon is now primed for physical rehabilitation and re-organization of the tendons, the next most essential part of getting rid of your tendinosis.

The only way to truly re-organize tendons is to put stress on them so they can “remodel”. To do this, you have to put just the right amount of stress to cause a little bit of pain (inflammation) – but not so much that your tendon gets inflamed again.

This is literally one of the few times where “no pain no gain” actually holds true. A properly trained physical therapist who is well-versed in tendinosis rehabilitation will know how to do this and can guide you through it.

You have to retrain the fibers in your tendon to withstand normal forces again – and this process takes both time and careful loading strategies.

The good news, however, is that if you rehab your tendinosis properly, you can get back to all the activities you love again as if nothing ever happened. You don’t have to accept this as a chronic condition.

If you’re confused on tendinosis and tendinitis after reading this don’t worry – so is half the medical community.

The take home points to remember are that tendinitis involves pain and inflammation. There is no damage to your tendon, and it only lasts about 4-6 weeks.

Treatment for tendinits should involve passive modalities like ice and rest. The focus should be on what caused your tendon to get irritated in the first place. Then, you can get rid of it before it turns into tendinosis.

If the problem in your tendon has gone on longer than 3 months, you must suspect tendinosis. This no longer involves inflammation but instead, a breakdown of your tendon. Passive treatments (with the exception of shockwave therapy) will not work. They could actually prolong your problem – so stop icing and resting.

To get rid of tendinosis, it requires carefully prescribed loading strategies, aka strengthening. That will properly re-organize your tendon so that it can be strong and functional again. This is extremely challenging to do on your own.

So it’s a good idea to talk to an expert about this. If you are local to and looking for physical therapy in Portsmouth, NH, reach out to schedule a FREE 30 minute discovery session.

Sciatica

Suffering from Sciatica? The Do’s and Dont’s

Four out of five people will experience a debilitating back pain and Sciatica episode at one point during their lives. Sometimes this looks like severe back pain that lasts a few days and eventually goes away on its own.

But for some – especially those that have experienced more than one debilitating back pain episode over the course of their lifetime – they experience searing pain down their leg that may or may not persist over a period of time.

When you experience back pain followed by radiating leg pain – this is known as “sciatica”.

Sometimes the pain will only go to your knee, or be a dull ache in the side of your hip and leg. But other times it can manifest all the way down to your foot and be accompanied by numbness, tingling and a loss of strength.

The good news is that there is plenty you can do on your own to help yourself recover from sciatica naturally. But there’s just as much you can do – unknowingly – to make your situation worse.

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to sciatica.

The Dont’s:

1. Avoid resting in bed or on the couch.

While it may feel better in the moment – lying in bed or on the couch will ultimately aggravate your sciatica. Sciatica is caused by pinching or irritation of the nerves in your lower back. When you lie in a slouched posture (such as in bed or on the couch) you will put unwanted pressure on these nerves, thus aggravating your symptoms.

The trickiest part about this is that you typically won’t notice the aggravation when you’re resting. You’ll notice it after the fact when you stand up or try to move around, and mistakenly assume the movement is what’s aggravating you instead of the relaxed posture you were just in.

2. Avoid child’s pose and stretching forward.

This is another big misconception about sciatica because it tends to feel really good when you’re “in the moment” and stretching your back forward. Not always, but often, sciatica is caused by a bulging or herniated disc that is pinching your nerve.

The position of bending forward does temporarily relieve pressure on your nerves – which is why it feels good at first – but it doesn’t last.

Stretching forward also opens up the space between your vertebrae. This can influence the protrusion (bulging) of your disc. If you allow your disc bulge to protrude more onto that nerve – your nerve will become more angry and aggravated – as will your sciatica.

3. Don’t let your MRI decide treatment.

As I mentioned in our first two examples, sciatica often involves bulging discs and irritated nerves. And an MRI will typically confirm this. But here’s the thing – tons of people out there have bulging discs showing up on their MRI’s and no symptoms at all.

What matters is whether or not your bulging disc is interacting negatively with your nerve – and that is typically influenced by poor movement strategies.In other words, if you learn how to move better, you can actually make your bulging disc inconsequential and your sciatica will dissipate.

So you should never let your MRI, alone, determine your treatment protocol when you’re suffering from sciatica. What’s more important is how your sciatica symptoms behave during movement. Research has shown this to be more reliable than imaging alone because it tells us in real time what’s happening to your nerves.

The Do’s:

1. Keep moving.

While it may seem counterintuitive to move when you’ve got pain running down your leg – it’s one of the best things you can do.

Try to stand and walk upright as much as you can and pay close attention to what happens in your leg. If the symptoms in your leg start to subside, then you’ll know that your body is enjoying that particular movement and that it’s helping your sciatica.

But here’s the catch – make sure the relief lasts. Lasting relief (vs temporary) is what we’re looking for and it tells us if the movement you’re doing is a good thing for your sciatica.

2. Watch your Posture.

This may seem trivial – but maintaining good posture is critical when you’re suffering from sciatica. Remember that sciatica typically involves a pinched or irritated nerve – and irritated nerves are highly sensitive to postural changes in your lower back (especially slouched postures).

Whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down – be sure to maintain a small curve in your lower back to minimize your slouch. This helps to keep pressure off your discs and already aggravated nerves.

3. Talk to a Movement Specialist.

While it’s entirely possible to rid yourself of debilitating sciatica without pain pills, procedures, or surgery, you’ll find it easier to do so under the guidance of a movement specialist who specializes in understanding back pain and sciatica.

Yes – you can get an MRI and go see a surgeon – but they aren’t movement specialists. They are surgical specialists. In order to get rid of your sciatica the natural way (with corrective movement strategies) – you need to work with someone who’s an expert in this.

Have you been dealing with back pain or sciatica? Or do you know someone who is?

If you”re local Portsmouth, NH, and you want help NOW for your back pain – Request a Free Discovery Session from one of my specialists. They’ll tell you if we can help and get you set up on a treatment plan right away!

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her guide to back pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Active and Mobile

Five Easy Ways to Stay Active and Mobile this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays and it’s right around the corner. Rest and relaxation might be top of mind for you. But, it’s still important to stay active and mobile throughout the day. 

Our spine and joints don’t like to be sedentary for prolonged periods. And that’s especially true if you’ve got arthritis, back or knee pain.

You may not notice any pain while you’re sitting or relaxing, but you will pay for it the next day if you don’t find ways to keep moving.

So here are five very easy ways to help you stay active and mobile this Thanksgiving:

  1. Interrupt Your Sitting.

Our bodies were not designed to sit for prolonged periods, so getting up frequently is an easy way to not only incorporate movement throughout your day, but to help keep away back and knee stiffness. I recommend standing up at least once every 30 min.

This could be a fun assignment to give a young child. Make them accountable for watching the clock and remind you to stand up. This is quite possibly the easiest and most effective strategy to keep your knees, hips, and spine from getting painful and stiff throughout Turkey Day.

  1. Do a Turkey Trot.

Thanksgiving Turkey Trots are a popular event in most towns and it can be a really fun event for the whole family. Turkey Trots are typically 5K’s – or 3.2 miles. If you’re not able to sign up for an actual race, grab your friends and family and create your own Turkey Trot within your neighborhood.

If you can’t coordinate a time to do this in a group, take a virtual trot together and stay connected via your smartphone. Either way, whether you walk or jog, it will feel great to get your Thanksgiving Day started with lubricated joints and blood flowing. 

  1. Stretch During Commercials.

Whether it’s the Macy’s Day parade, football, or both – it’s easy to find yourself sitting for hours on a soft sofa or recliner. A very easy way to keep yourself from sitting or slouching too much and to incorporate some healthy movement into your day is to get up during commercials.

It’s the perfect opportunity to do a quick 2 min exercise or stretch.  It doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose from a quick set of squats, heel raises, planks, or back stretches. You can alternate through these during each commercial break and your body will thank you for it.

  1. Walk Your Dessert Off.

Just because you did that Turkey Trot in the morning doesn’t mean you have to be done for the day. Rather than feeling like you need to skip dessert – just plan to walk it off afterwards.

Walking is one of the best and most natural exercises you can do. And it gives you many of the same benefits of running (only slower).

Walking is very functional, and it’s good for your hips, back and knees. Since we tend to sit and bend so much during the day, walking is a very natural and active way to get some much needed lengthening and stretching into our bodies before we settle in for the evening. 

  1. Help With Cleaning Up.

Don’t be shamed into “just sit down and relax” because you’re a guest. Helping with clean-up (or set-up) is an easy and effective way to keep moving during your Thanksgiving Holiday.

Not only will your Thanksgiving host love you – but your body will too.

If you’re suffering from back problems, be careful bending and leaning over – especially if it’s repetitive – when you’re collecting or washing dishes. But otherwise, carrying heavy plates, moving chairs, and wiping down tables can burn quite a few calories and it’s good for your body.

There you have it – if you don’t want your Thanksgiving Day to be sedentary – you now have five easy ways to stay active and mobile.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday and get to spend it with those you love most.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or request a free copy of one of her guides to back, neck, knee, or shoulder pain, email her at [email protected].

When You Can’t Feel Your Abs

I’ve been a physical therapist for 20 years, a Pilates instructor for 11, and have been specializing in back pain for the past 10 years of my career. When it comes to core strength and preventing back pain, I am an expert in my field. Yet for some reason this morning, during my Pilates workout, I just couldn’t feel my abs. I teach people how to do this every single day yet this morning, I couldn’t seem to access my own.

What was happening?

And more importantly – if it can happen to someone like me – it can certainly happen to someone with less training than I have. I started to think about all the reasons this could be happening to me. Had I gotten enough sleep? What had I eaten the day before? Could it be stress?

And then it hit me.

I had just come back from a 2-day course where I’d been sitting far more than usual. I sat for 8 hours straight. Two days in a row. Not to mention all the very cramped sitting I did on the plane to and from this course. When one of my clients is about to have a few days like this, this is what I recommend. Get up from your chair and stretch backwards as frequently as possible every few hours.

But guess what – I didn’t follow any of my own advice. The result? A stiff back and sleepy abs upon my return.

Our bodies are highly intelligent and have every capacity to heal themselves when given the right environment. Conversely, when in the wrong environment, our bodies will also do what it takes to naturally protect from harm and injury. In my case, I came home from this course with a stiff lower back.

Back stiffness is the first sign that your back is not happy. This means your chances of tweaking it or exacerbating an old back injury are higher. When any joint is stiff and not moving well the muscles surrounding that joint will become naturally inhibited or weakened. This occurs on purpose as a protection mechanism. Your body doesn’t want a fully contracted muscle compressing an unhappy joint. In the case of your lower back, the muscles that can get inhibited when your back is not happy include your abdominals as well as back muscles.

So what can you do when you feel less core strength?

The good news is I’ve already helped you with step one: awareness. Inhibited muscles are not the same as weak muscles. In my case, I do have strong abdominals. My weekly routine consists of a regular Pilates practice, lifting weights, and I perform activities like hiking and running that engage my core. Yet despite all this, my abs were simply not having it this particular morning. They were not set up for a successful workout.

The combination of my stiff back and having sat for several days just meant that I needed to do something different to prepare my lower back and abdominals for this workout – so that I wouldn’t injure myself. My sleepy abs and stiff back were, in effect, trying to tell me just that.

All I needed to do was have the awareness this was happening so I could take appropriate action.

It’s no different than when you go on vacation and you get off your routine by eating more than usual. You might return a bit bloated and not feeling your best self. This kind of feeling we are accustomed to. And might respond by getting a bit strict with our diets until feeling back on track. Our joints can react similarly to a change in routine – we’re just not as accustomed to the signs and symptoms that let us know. But once you are – you can easily manage this and avoid injury. Had I pushed through my Pilates routine as normal this morning despite sensing that my back and abdominal function was off – there’s a good chance I’d be sitting here writing to you with full on back pain instead of just some lingering stiffness.

If you’re reading this, and you’re over the age of 40, odds are pretty good that you’ve experienced back pain at some point in your life. The odds are also pretty good that you’ve experienced back pain more than once.

If this is a recurring pattern for you, your abdominals and deep core may not be functioning at their best.

You could be caught in a vicious cycle of trying to improve your core strength only to keep hurting your back.

The missing solution for you might be that nobody has fully examined your back in a way to ensure that it’s moving fully and freely like it should. Once your back moves well, you can usually start to strengthen your abdominals without a problem.

If you’re confused right now – I don’t blame you.

The take home point here is that if you keep experiencing weakness in a particular area despite trying to strengthen it consistently, it’s possible you could have a problem in your joints that is keeping your muscles from fully activating like they should.

Talk to one of my specialists about it.

Someone from my client success team will call you right away and see if you are a good fit for what we do. At the end of the day – we’re here to help.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her guide to back pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Sciatica_Therapy_Portsmouth_NH_2

3 Reasons You Need PT After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) started to take off in the 1990’s. It has since become far more common for spinal conditions. Some being degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spinal infections, spondylolisthesis, compression fractures, and spinal tumors.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is a far better alternative to open-spine surgery.

You can expect less anesthesia and less blood loss during surgery. Along with a reduced risk of infection, less pain after surgery, less pain medication needed, smaller scars, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery time, and quicker return to daily activities and work.

But don’t confuse the term “minimally invasive” with minimal risk.

With MISS – you’re still at risk for many of the same consequences of open-spine surgery should things go wrong. Therefore, you want to make sure you really need spine surgery before you go “under the knife” – even if it’s a tiny one.

There are some risks of MISS:

  • Bad reactions to anesthesia
  • Pneumonia after surgery
  • Blood clots in your legs that could travel to your lungs
  • Infection (although this is significantly minimized with MISS)
  • Blood loss during surgery requiring a transfusion
  • Injury to the nerves of your spinal cord

While rare, these are very real risks and they do happen. Risks like this don’t occur with conservative treatment – such as specialized physical therapy.

It’s why I’m a huge advocate of folks not undergoing surgery until all conservative approaches have been exhausted. Or if you’ve got what we call a progressive neurological deficit occurring. Such as quick deterioration in your muscle strength, ability to walk, or ability to control your bowel/bladder.

All that being said – assuming you really do need surgery and will benefit from MISS – you still need physical therapy.

I’m amazed at how many surgeons no longer prescribe rehab after a minimally invasive procedure. Just because recovery time is reduced – doesn’t mean you don’t need a specialist to help you recover properly.

Here are 3 reasons you need PT after minimally invasive spine surgery:

1. Proper scar management

Minimally invasive procedures already do a great job of reducing scar formation. The incisions are smaller and less invasive, but there is still an incision. And the incision with MISS is deep because you have to get to the layers of the spinal nerves, vertebrae, and discs. Because the scars are small, people mistakenly assume they will heal without issue. The truth is they might. But the odds of your scar healing properly are much better with professional scar management. Scar mobilization should begin about 2 wks after MISS.

A specially trained physical therapist will not only help you manage your scar healing, but teach you how to do it on your own. You’ll improve blood flow to the area of the incision (which promotes healing), increase soft tissue mobility, and help reduce any swelling that formed in the area.

2. Restore pre-existing impairments

Odds are pretty good you didn’t end up with spontaneous MISS. You likely had a long road leading to your surgery. It’s critical you go back and address all of the problems that occurred prior to your procedure.

This includes everything from muscle weakness, to poor compensatory movement strategies your body adapted to deal with pain, immobility that occurred either because of pain or to protect you from pain, and residual numbness and/or radiating pain that is still in your legs. MISS might do a great job of quickly getting rid of your back pain, but something led to that pain to begin with.

The absence of pain does not equal the absence of a problem. Now is the perfect time to work with a specialist who will help you not only optimize your recovery from MISS – but make sure the problems/impairments that led you to the operating table to begin with don’t come back.

3. Restore deep core strength

Chronic pain tends to inhibit the ability for muscles to work properly. If you’ve been suffering from back pain for awhile – odds are pretty good your deep core strength is not where it needs to be.

Plus, good core strength is critical for the prevention of future back problems (yes – you can still get back pain after back surgery). Ideally, now that your minimally invasive procedure has either eliminated or significantly reduced your back pain, it’s more critical than ever to work with a specialist who can help you restore your deep core strength. They’ll know how to do it safely and effectively – to not only help you recover from your MISS faster – but keep the original problem from coming back – because it can.

If you’re considering any type of surgery – but especially back surgery – I always advocate getting a second opinion first – even if the procedure is minimally invasive. Eighty percent of the time – back problems can be resolved without surgical procedures.

CLICK HERE to get a second opinion from one of my specialists.

If you truly want to avoid surgery – and we think we can help you do that – we’ll let you know and get you scheduled with us as quickly as possible.

However, if you’ve recently undergone MISS, ask your doctor to refer you to physical therapy. Many surgeons won’t. It’s going to help you recover optimally and faster – and will set you up for the best possible future success when it comes to back problems.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To get in touch, or request a free copy of her guide to back pain, email her at [email protected] or call 603-605-0402