Tag Archive for: New Hampshire

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.

avoid back pain when raking leaves

6 Tips to Protect your Back when Raking Leaves

Leaves are everywhere right now in New England, which means for many, the tedious task of raking them is right around the corner. I love Fall – but I don’t love raking leaves. And raking leaves is even worse when you’re suffering from back pain. The good news is there are many things you can do to protect your back when raking leaves. 

Here are 6 of my most popular tips to protect your back when raking leaves:

1. Warm up before you start.

Just as athletes warm up before a game, so should you before raking. Beginning any physical activity without preparing your body can lead to unwanted strains and injuries. For raking, focus on warm up activities that target your back, shoulders, and legs. Something like a quick walk around the block before you start is an excellent way to warm up. It gets blood flowing to your legs and arms, and the gentle rotational aspect of walking is great for your spine and torso. You could also include some basic stretches into your warmup such as torso twists, shoulder shrugs, and arm circles. This gets some lubrication into your joints and spine to help protect your back once you start raking.

2. Choose the Right Rake.

With any repetitive activity such as raking – good ergonomics is essential. Ergonomics refers to how safe and efficient you are in your working environment. Bad ergonomics will typically cost you unnecessary energy and labor – and can often result in an injury. When it comes to raking, choose a rake with a handle that is long enough so that you can maintain upright posture while using it, and go for one that is light in weight yet still durable. A good, ergonomic rake might require a bit more investment than you were intending, but it will be worth it in the long run because ultimately, a back injury will cost you much more. And knowing how to protect your back from injury is priceless.

3. Bend with your legs and hips

When performing repetitive activities or lifting something heavy, one of the most vulnerable postures for your back to be in is the combined position of flexed (bent forward) and rotated. To protect your back and avoid injury, you want to use your legs and hips to bend and lift. If you’ve got the right rake, it will be easy to maintain an upright posture while raking. And then when it’s time to scoop up the leaves and deposit them, you’ll want to squat using your hips and knees, and pivot with your trunk and pelvis. Avoid lifting with a curved back and twisting from your waist or spine. Maintaining these habits on a regular basis (not just when raking) will help you protect your back from strain or injury that could otherwise be very easily avoided.

4. Take regular breaks

Continuous and repetitive raking can tire out your muscles and make them more susceptible to injury. Plus, when you get into the monotony of raking, the mindlessness of the activity makes it easy to not pay attention to things like maintaining good posture and using good body mechanics. An easy way to combat this is by taking regular breaks. I recommend at least once every 30 min. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you – and when it goes off – stop what you’re doing, put the rake down, and give yourself a quick upright back stretch. This very simple and easy strategy will go a long way in protecting your back when raking leaves.

5. Engage your Core

You don’t need six-pack abs to protect your back while raking leaves, but simply being mindful of your core can be super helpful and certainly won’t hurt you. Most back injuries occur when you least expect it – and when you aren’t paying attention. When you’re raking leaves, or any other mindless, repetitive activity for that matter, make an effort to think about gently drawing in your lower abdominals while you perform the activity. It’s a subtle move, and you should be able to easily breathe and talk while doing it. If you struggle to breathe and talk normally – you’re overdoing it.  This simple act of engaging your core will help keep your spine more supported and stable while raking and it will help protect your back.

6. Keep Moving Afterwards

What you do after raking is equally as important as what you do during to help protect your back from pain and injury. One of the biggest mistakes people make after a repetitive or strenuous activity (like raking) is to slump on the couch or recliner and “rest”. This is one of the worst things you can do to your spine because it’s more pliable and vulnerable right after strenuous activity. And when you put your spine in a relaxed, flexed position while it’s vulnerable – you’re just asking for an injury. You won’t notice it while you’re resting – but you might feel a tweak or strain when you go to stand up – or even up to several hours later. Do yourself a favor and perform some gentle stretching after raking, or go for another walk to help relax your back. And be mindful of your resting postures for a few hours after raking. This is an easy way to protect your back during raking season.

Hopefully these tips give you a few things to think about before you go raking all those leaves in your yard – but most importantly – help you protect your back and avoid unwanted back pain this fall season.

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].

How Back MRI’s Lead to more Invasive Treatments and Surgery

If you’ve ever suffered from acute or long-standing back pain, you’ve likely wanted to “see inside” and know what’s going on. If this is you – you’re not alone in your thinking – and many medical doctors agree with this approach. However, evidence suggests that unwarranted MRI’s on your back can lead to unnecessary invasive treatments and surgeries, which often result in more harm than good in the long-term.

Let’s take a look at the research.

As part of their International Choose Wisely Campaign, the BMJ (British Journal of Medicine) published findings of a 2020 study that investigated what happens when back pain sufferers get MRI’s done too early (defined as less than 6 weeks into an episode and absent of any red flags). In more than 400,000 patients, those who received early MRI’s on their back were more likely to undergo back surgery and be prescribed opioids. And worse – they had higher pain scores at 1-year follow-up than those that didn’t get an MRI. This is not an isolated study. There is mounting evidence that indicates when MRI’s are done too early or unnecessarily – it leads to more surgery, more invasive treatments, more negative perceptions and catastrophization of spinal conditions, and overall – poorer outcomes.

So when is a back MRI needed? 

When you’ve got any alarming symptoms (known as “red flags”) you should absolutely get an MRI. These include signs of cancer, infection, inflammatory disease, possibility of fracture, or severe neurological deficit. Qualified health care practitioners are trained to identify these red flags. However, they are seen in only about 5-10% of all back pain cases. For context, in my two decades of treating patients with back pain, only three had these serious symptoms. This isn’t to downplay severe back pain cases, but to emphasize that most back pain patients don’t need an MRI for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. And if you get an MRI when you don’t need one – you might end up with unnecessary treatments or surgeries, be prescribed opioids, and are likely to feel generally worse about your back pain.

The problem with relying on back MRI’s

When you get an MRI of your back – the problem is it shows you everything.

You’ll see a comprehensive view of bulging discs, arthritis, stenosis, and degenerative discs – which are all common findings – but also a normal part of aging. Everybody gets them whether you have back pain or not. But because we haven’t done a good enough job of normalizing these findings – they often get blamed for your back pain when seen on an MRI. But the research shows you can’t reliably correlate your MRI findings to the true cause of your back pain. In fact, they’ve compared MRI’s of people with and without back pain and found they can share almost identical results. In a set of publications known as the Lancet series, Martin Underwood, MD, co-author and professor at Warwick Medical School, said: “If you get into the business of treating disc degeneration because it has shown up on an MRI, the likelihood is that, in most of those people, it is not contributing to their back pain.”

Confused? I don’t blame you.

The truth is, about 70-80% of all back problems, even sciatica, are considered what we call “mechanical” in nature. Your pain will come and go, you’ll have good days and bad days, and you’ll often feel better with movement. Mechanical back pain cannot be diagnosed by an MRI – it’s diagnosed via repeated movement testing to see what triggers and relieves your back pain. And it’s treated with corrective movement strategies designed to get rid of your pain and keep it gone. If you undergo an MRI for what’s essentially mechanical pain, you risk receiving treatments that are not only unnecessary, but can exacerbate the problem. Remember, you can’t reverse a back surgery. And complications related to back surgery are complicated to treat. You owe it to yourself to exhaust all possible conservative treatments.

If you’ve been suffering with back pain for years, I know it’s frustrating.

Consider speaking to a mechanical back pain expert who can help you accurately determine the root cause of your back pain with corrective movement strategies instead of a back MRI.

Give yourself a chance to resolve your back pain naturally instead of resorting to invasive treatments or procedures.

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 seat in her upcoming Masterclass for Back Pain & Sciatica – visit her website www.cjphysicaltherapy.com or call 603-605-0402

Neck stretches

3 Reasons Your Neck Stretches aren’t Working

If you suffer from chronic neck stiffness or even pain – and you’ve done your due diligence when it comes to neck stretches – it’s time to consider you might be missing something.

It could be your stretching technique, you could be doing the wrong stretch altogether, or it could be that you shouldn’t be stretching your neck at all…

Let’s go over three reasons why your neck stretches might not be working and help you pinpoint where it’s going wrong…

 

1. You’re using the wrong stretching technique.

Although research studies are inconclusive regarding how long you should hold a particular stretch, most people feel good when they hold a stretch for 30-60 seconds. When it comes to technique, one of the biggest problems I see is not relaxing enough. If you’re tense, or gripping your muscles at the same time you’re stretching, it won’t work very well. It’s important to breathe and move easily into the stretch. If you try to force it or push through pain, you’ll likely tense up.

Now let’s say you’re doing everything right (not tensing or gripping) but your stretches still don’t seem to work. Some people (myself included) respond better to “moving stretches”. This is where instead of holding one static position for a prolonged period, you repeatedly move through one (or several) end-range stretches. Neck rolls are a great example of this. If your neck stretches haven’t been working, try adjusting the way you’ve been stretching. If you notice a difference right away then you have your answer – you were likely using the wrong stretching technique.

2. You’re doing the wrong type of stretch.

This one could be a little tougher to figure out on your own. There is a difference between corrective neck stretching and stretching to feel good.

For example, let’s say your neck is tightening up because you’ve been under a lot of stress or you just did a lot of activity that stressed your neck out. Generic neck stretches such as bringing your chin to your chest, or pulling your chin to the opposite shoulder (known as an upper trap stretch) may be all you need.

In fact, I do stretches like this regularly because I’m constantly leaning over to help patients. I stretch my neck to PREVENT it from having problems and because it feels good. But let’s say you already have a neck problem, or you have pain or numbness running down your arm. In these instances, generic neck stretching could make you worse. You likely need corrective stretches for your neck. Corrective stretches are specifically prescribed to address a particular problem, and prescribed at a specific frequency. They are different from the generalized stretches that are designed to feel good and relieve tension.

3. You shouldn’t be stretching your neck at all.

This is a very common problem we see here in our office. Folks come in with complaints of chronic tightness and discomfort in their neck and no matter how often they stretch or massage, it doesn’t go away.

Did you know that chronic neck tightness can be a sign of a weak core?

It’s quite common, and if that is the case for you, no amount of stretching will help (and can even aggravate your problem!) The deep, stabilizing muscles of your neck are connected by fascia to the deep muscles of your core. If your deep core is not working properly, then your neck will often kick in and try to help.

Ever notice that your neck is always sore or tight after a good ab workout?

This could be a sign that your neck is compensating for your core. Stop stretching your neck, learn how to strengthen your core the right way, and see a specialist who can help you.

If you’re dealing with chronic neck problems that aren’t responding to stretching, there’s a good chance you could be not stretching correctly, the stretches aren’t right for you, or you’ve completely missed the root cause of your neck pain and you shouldn’t be stretching at all.

Consider talking to a movement specialist who understands how to figure this out so you can get rid of your neck pain and back to all the activities you love!

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH?

Book a free discovery visit with one of my specialists HERE.

They will ask you all about what’s been going on – and help you make the best decision moving forward – whether that’s working with us not!

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, email her at [email protected].

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.

skiing

Four tips to Protect your Knees and Avoid Injury when Skiing

Skiing can put a lot of stress on your knee joints and if you’re not careful – lead to pain and injury.

Your knee joint requires both mobility and stability to function well. It’s important for your knee joint to be mobile enough to allow for a full range of motion. But, it also needs to be stable enough to support your body weight and absorb the forces that come with everyday activities. When it comes to skiing, mobility is going to protect your knees when you fall, and stability is going to keep your knees feeling strong as you twist and turn down the slopes. Maintaining a balance between mobility and stability is crucial for knee joint health in general. It certainly is crucial when it comes to skiing.

Here are four tips to help protect your knees and avoid injury when skiing:

1. Warm up before hitting the slopes.

When you take the time to stretch and warm-up your muscles before skiing your knee is not only going to feel better, but be better equipped to handle the stress of the day. Warming up helps to increase blood flow to your muscles and improve your strength, endurance and agility on the slopes.

When warming up, choose exercises that take your knee, hips and ankles through full range of motion. Plus – if skiing is a day trip for you, you’ve likely just sat in the car for an hour or more. Prolonged sitting puts extra stress and compression on your knee joint, especially in the front of your knees. Warming up your knees can help relieve this added stress on your joints before you hit the slopes.

2. Strengthen your upper leg muscles and core

Having good strength of your upper legs and core can help improve both the stability and alignment of your knee joint – which is important during skiing.

Your knee joint is surrounded by a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. When the muscles around your knee joint are weak, imbalanced, or simply not functioning well – this will cause your knee to move in ways that add extra stress to your joint. Given the stress skiing already adds, you don’t want to make your knee work any harder.

Strengthening your core and upper leg muscles will improve the alignment of your knee during activity, reduce the risk of injury, and improve the overall function of your knee – which can only help you when skiing.

3. Keep your Knees Mobile

Full and free mobility of your knee joint is important. It helps maintain the health of your joint and surrounding tissues.

When your knee (or any) joint doesn’t move well, you will get added stress on your ligaments, cartilage, and tendons. Your knees need to bend all the way so you can squat and pick things up.  They need to straighten all the way to give you stability when needed. When either of these motions are lacking – your knee joint suffers.

When it comes to skiing, if your ligaments and surrounding tissues are already stressed due to lack of mobility in everyday movement – they will certainly not be happy when you add the stress of skiing. Having a good mobility routine for your knees as a preventative activity is important. It’s going to really pay off when you go to hit the slopes each ski season.

4. Talk to a mechanical pain expert

70% of all knee pain is going to be mechanical in nature. Everything I’ve already described above is going to help you deal with mechanical movement faults that might be happening in your knee joint. But occasionally, despite all your best efforts, you need help from someone who specializes in mechanical joint pain.

Mechanical joint pain responds very well to what we call “corrective movements”. When you know what specific movement your joint needs to feel better, it literally acts like a prescription medication. You can use that movement any time you want to help relieve knee pain on your own. This is particularly advantageous when you’ve gone a little overboard on the slopes. You can “fix” your knee and be ready for the next day.

If you’ve already tried many of the strategies I mentioned, and continue to have knee pain when you ski, it might be worth visiting a mechanical pain expert to help set you on a customized path to preventing knee pain and avoiding an injury that requires more invasive intervention down the line.

It’s more fun to focus on the ski day ahead than worry about whether or not your knee joints can handle it.

I hope these tips help you to not only enjoy what’s left of ski season – but help you have healthier knees in general to keep enjoying all of the activities you love.

Local to Portsmouth, NH and need help with your knee pain NOW?

CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Session with one of my Specialists. They’ll ask you all about what’s been going on – and figure out if we would be a good fit to help.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth. To get a FREE copy of her guide to knee pain – CLICK HERE

work out

Why More People are Paying out of Pocket for Healthcare…even during an economic downturn

More People are Paying out of Pocket for Healthcare…even during a recession

If you’ve ever had an injury or dealt with chronic pain, you’ve probably followed a pretty traditional course of action to address it that might have looked like this:

  • You went to your primary care doctor and they sent you to the lab for x rays, prescribed medication, or both.
  • You may have gotten a referral to a specialist or even a surgeon.
  • You went to that appointment and were either told that you needed surgery or that you needed to modify your physical activity and avoid certain activities in order to not exacerbate the problem.

Basically, you were thrust into the assembly line that has become “modern healthcare”.

But did you know that you could bypass all of this hassle – and get faster results – by going directly to a physical therapist?

Physical therapists are trained to diagnose your problem and provide a fully customized treatment option. One that doesn’t involve prescription medications or procedures.

In almost all states (including NH) you don’t even need a prescription to see a physical therapist.

The problem is that for many people, traditional physical therapy has not produced the results they are looking for.

Physical therapy DOES work. But what often doesn’t work is the model of care.

There have been many limitations insurance companies have placed on reimbursement over the years. Most traditional physical therapy clinics (those that take insurance) have been forced to see more patients. Just so they can pay the bills and keep the lights on!

Additionally, insurance companies and healthcare have essentially taken over your care.

They decide who you can see, what type of treatment you will get, and how many visits you are allowed to have.

These decisions are being made by someone who’s never even spoken to you, met you, or actually looked at you.

Because of this, “physical therapy” has gotten a bad reputation and a lot of people find that it’s a waste of time, or that it consists of just a bunch of exercises.

It’s not the physical therapist’s fault, it’s the insurance company’s fault.

The good news is that you’ve got options and alternatives when it comes to taking care of your back or knee pain.

You don’t want to be prescribed medication and you don’t want to deal with procedures like injections or surgery. Or you don’t want to go to traditional physical therapy and feel like you’re wasting your time. The answer is to go outside of your insurance and pay out of pocket.

This is known as going “out of network”.

More people are doing it because they are fed up with the traditional models. Models of healthcare and physical therapy that don’t give them the results they are looking for.

But isn’t that expensive? Not at all, and it really depends on what you value.

For me, and for most of the folks that we work with, it’s far more costly to live with chronic back pain. You have to miss out on activities you love, and end up with a surgery you never even wanted.

It’s also far more costly to spend years going to weekly chiropractic and massage therapy appointments. Just so that you can function and manage your pain.

When it comes to musculoskeletal problems, you NEED a physical therapist in your corner and as part of your healthcare team.

But it can’t be the traditional kind where all you get is cookie cutter treatment plans. Physical therapists who don’t contract with insurance companies are able to spend more time with you. Allowing them to create a truly customized plan of care.

We focus on getting to know you and your body. Not what paperwork needs to be filled out for your next healthcare insurance authorization.

Our clients like this model because they get long-term success instead of short-term pain relief. Our therapists like this model. They are free to use their brains and actually do what they were trained to do.

Everyone should have their own, personal physical therapist to call and come see anytime you need. Just like you would a chiropractor, dentist, doctor, or massage therapist.

The only way to do this, is to go outside your insurance. If you are curious about whether or not this model of physical therapy is right for you just give us a call!

It’s not for everyone, but more and more people are finding that it is.

Most of the folks we meet and work with say: “I wish I had found you first”.

If this is something you are interested in – or are seeking more information on – CLICK HERE to speak to one of my specialists.

They will give you all the information you need to make the BEST decision for YOUR health. Whether that’s working with us or not!

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].

syringe

Shoulder Still Hurting After Your Covid-19 Booster?

Shoulder pain is quite normal after any vaccine.

But prolonged shoulder pain isn’t.

Shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (otherwise known as “SIRVA”) is a rare, but possible occurrence when you get a vaccine or booster shot. Shoulder injections should enter the deltoid muscle. But SIRVA occurs when a healthcare professional administers the vaccine too high, or too deep into your shoulder.

When not properly administered, your next booster shot could graze your bone or nerve, or even puncture your bursa (a fluid-filled sac that protects your shoulder tendons).

Pain from SIRVA can be really difficult to distinguish from the normal pain that occurs after a shot in your arm. But it’s critical you know what to look for. Because if left untreated, SIRVA can cause prolonged problems in your shoulder over time.

I’ve seen folks end up with entirely preventable rotator cuff tears, bursitis, and tendonitis – all because someone didn’t take their complaints of shoulder pain after getting a Covid shot in their arm seriously enough.

Normal shoulder pain after a Covid vaccine or booster shot:

Mild skin sensitivity and localized shoulder pain is quite normal after a Covid vaccine or booster shot. Some people experience what is now known as “Covid arm” – a mild rash and skin sensitivity that can occur anywhere from a few days to even a week after receiving your shot. You’ll experience skin sensitivity and/or swelling that might look similar to cellulitis.

While annoying, Covid arm is not considered dangerous or threatening.

The symptoms will typically go away after a week or two and in the meantime, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about over the counter or prescription remedies that can address the symptoms of itchiness or swelling.

Localized shoulder pain at the site of your vaccine or booster shot is also normal. The pain you feel is from the mild trauma caused by the needle being inserted into the soft tissue (muscle) of your arm. It often feels like a bruise, and you may experience a little bit of swelling. It will typically go away after 2-3 days. Even though your arm can be quite sore, the important distinction here is that you’ll still have full, normal function of your arm. In other words, despite the soreness, you can still move your arm freely up and down if you had to without restriction.

Your arm soreness will go away with time, but gently massaging the area of pain, and even some easy movement or exercise can help the soreness go away faster.

Abnormal shoulder pain after a Covid vaccine or booster shot:

The symptoms of SIRVA are different, and typically more severe than what I’ve just described above. If not addressed, some of these symptoms could lead to long lasting shoulder problems or compensatory problems elsewhere.

As I’ve already alluded to, one of the main distinctions between “normal” shoulder pain after a vaccination shot and SIRVA is how well your arm functions. If the needle was accidentally inserted into your joint capsule, for example, you will notice limited mobility and possibly limited strength. If unaddressed, symptoms like this can manifest into more serious shoulder problems down the line such as adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder.

If the needle was inserted too high or too deeply, and beyond your muscular layer, it could have injured your bursa. This could cause it to become inflamed, turning into shoulder bursitis. Your mobility may or may not be impacted when this happens, but you’ll notice prolonged shoulder pain that doesn’t subside after 2-3 days like it should. Bursitis is actually a really simple injury to treat. But with SIRVA, it’s often dismissed as normal pain after the shot.

When ignored – shoulder bursitis can lead to compensatory movements due to pain – and cause problems later on in places like your neck, shoulder blade or even elbow.

One last common problem we see as a result of SIRVA is rotator cuff tendonitis. Much like bursitis, you may have normal motion in your shoulder, but what you’ll notice with this is again, the pain will persist longer than it should. But unlike bursitis, you’ll also have pain and weakness when you exert force through that tendon – particularly with overhead movements or lifting something with an outstretched arm.

This is also not a complicated injury to rehabilitate, but if not addressed, could turn into a more serious problem such as a rotator cuff tear or chronic tendonosis – conditions that are more difficult to treat.

To recap – your shoulder will hurt after getting a vaccine.

It’s normal. And you may even experience Covid arm. But these symptoms should go away and not remain.

And you should still have normal function of your shoulder, despite the pain.

If you have shoulder pain that persists, and especially if you’re noticing limited mobility, it’s something worth getting checked out. The last thing you want is for these symptoms to go on longer than needed, or turn into compensatory, more complicated problems.

The good news is that even with SIRVA, your shoulder pain can be successfully treated naturally, and without medications or procedures. Don’t let a healthcare professional brush off your concerns and blame your prolonged shoulder pain on your booster shot.

Talk to a musculoskeletal expert who understands this sort of thing and get some help!

CLICK HERE to request a Free Discovery Call with our Client Success Team.

They’ll let you know if we can help – and if you’re a good fit for our services – get you scheduled as soon as possible.

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 one of her guide to neck and shoulder pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

How to Prevent Knee Pain When Hiking

Hiking is a popular way to stay active during the summer months – but it can also wreak havoc on your knees.

Personally, I love to hike. My pup (Bodie) and I are currently in the process of conquering the 48 4K footers of the White Mountains – and the very last thing I want is for knee pain to get in the way of that journey.

The good news is that there is quite a bit you can do to prevent knee pain when hiking. So when one of my readers asked this week – “How do I prevent knee pain when hiking?” – I couldn’t wait to answer it.

Here are 4 of my top tips to help you prevent knee pain when hiking.

 

1. Strengthen your hips and core

Your hips and core provide much needed support for your knee joint to function properly. The large bone in your thigh, called your femur, makes up your knee joint on the bottom, and your hip joint on the top. Your hip joint is connected to your pelvis, which houses major core muscles groups like your glutes.

Let’s say your glutes (part of your core) and hip muscles aren’t as strong as they could be. When you’re trying to climb up a large rock or steep trail, for example, your glutes and hip muscles are supposed to stabilize your pelvis so that your femur can easily extend your hip. When not strong enough, your pelvis will tilt to compensate – which impacts the alignment of your femur – and ultimately the alignment of your knee.

When I hike a 4k footer – I get in approximately 27,000 steps. If your knee is compensating for every one of those steps – it’s eventually going to hurt. If hiking is something you love to do, it’s critical that you strengthen your hips and core.

2. Keep your knees mobile

One of the biggest mistakes I see when it comes to knee problems is a lack of full mobility. Your knee shouldn’t just straighten, it should be able to hyperextend a little bit. When you bend your knee, you should be able to tolerate a full deep squat without any pain. These full end range movements are pretty essential to have when it comes to hiking. Your knee needs to be able to squat, pivot, and tolerate stress on those uneven trails. When you lack full mobility, it impacts your knee’s ability to tolerate these micro-stresses and over time – your knees will ache.

If you’ve got pain or stiffness in your knee in either direction of movement – it’s important to try and push that movement and work through it rather than avoid it – even if your knee seems painful at first. More often than not, the more you move your knee joint, the better it will feel. If that doesn’t happen – then you know it’s time to talk to an expert about it and have them take a closer look at your knee.

3. Work on your balance

Hiking can involve everything from uneven terrain, water crossings, and rock hopping. Good balance is essential for these activities and without it – your knees will suffer.

So how do you work on your balance?

Aside from the obvious (practicing balance exercises), it’s also important to look at a few other things – namely – the mobility of your toes, foot and ankle joints as well as the strength of your arch (plantar fascia). These structures all play a role in how well you’re going to be able to balance. You can do all the balancing exercises in the world, but if you’ve got faulty mobility in your ankle, for example, or a flat, weakened arch – balance is always going to be really difficult for you.

Perform regular stretching of your ankle and calf muscles, Be sure to move those toes – can you lift your big toe up by itself when you’re standing? And use a small ball to regularly massage the arch of your foot to keep it flexible. These small activities can play a huge role in helping you to be able to balance with more ease – especially on the trials.

4. Use Trekking Poles

Even if you implement every single tip I mentioned above, depending on your overall level of fitness, and the condition of your knees prior to when you decided to get into hiking, you could still have some knee pain despite doing “everything right”.

Trekking poles can be a real life saver – or should I say knee-saver.

They help take away some of the stress from your knees and lower legs – especially on really long hikes and technically challenging trails. Plus, if you’re carrying a backpack, trekking poles help to disperse that extra weight away from your knees and into your arms. And added bonus – hiking with poles gives your arms a little extra workout at the same time and keeps your hands and fingers from getting puffy on those extra hot and humid days.

If you love hiking as much as Bodie and I do – then I know the last thing you want is for knee pain to keep you from hiking. I hope these tips help you to ease any knee pain you might currently have as well as prevent future knee pain on the trails.

Do you love to hike but knee pain is currently getting in the way? CLICK HERE to talk to one of our specialists. 

They’ll let you know if we can help – and if you’re a good fit for what we do – they’ll get you on our schedule 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 Knee Pain Free Report CLICK HERE  or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Plantar Fasciitis

Are Flip flops Aggravating Your Plantar Fasciitis?

Now that summer is here – it’s flip flop and sandal season for many. Unfortunately, this also typically results in a rise in foot pain and plantar fasciitis cases. One of my readers recently wrote to me and asked about this.

Here’s what Jennifer wanted to know:

“Now that I’m wearing flip flops again, I noticed that my plantar fasciitis is acting up. Is there anything I can do? Do I need to stop wearing flip flops?”

This is a great question Jennifer. In order to answer your question, let’s look at a few reasons why plantar fasciitis occurs in the first place. Ideally, if you can stay on top of your plantar fasciitis and/or prevent it all together, flip flops won’t even be an issue.

First – what is plantar fasciitis? 

It’s inflammation of your plantar fascia – the tissue that makes up the arch (bottom) of your foot. Your plantar fascial runs from the base of your heel, down the length of your foot, and into your toes. It’s responsible for both the mobility and stability of your foot so that you can propel yourself during walking and running. When you land on your foot your arch falls or flattens – this is called pronation. The response to this action is that your foot then stiffens or supinates – this is where your foot gets the power to push off. If any part of this mechanism is not functioning properly, your plantar fascia can become stressed and overworked – leading to inflammation/plantar fasciitis.

What causes your plantar fascia to become overworked?

Basically anything that impacts or disrupts the natural mechanics of your foot to pronate and supinate. Most commonly, poor mobility in either your ankle or 1st toe is the culprit – but even tight hips and weak glutes can cause problems all the way down to your foot. Anything that impacts the way your foot hits the ground has an opportunity to influence the level of force and energy transmitted through your foot and arch when you walk, which in turn impacts the natural pronation/supination mechanism. When disrupted, your plantar fascia will attempt to compensate for the pronation/supination mechanism. If this continues to happen, your plantar fascia eventually becomes angry and irritated – resulting in plantar fasciitis. 

Flip flops, or any other shoe for that matter, can either “protect” your arch, or cause it to overwork. Technically speaking, if your foot mechanics are sound and the arch of your foot is strong and mobile, footwear should have a negligible impact on your plantar fascia. Sadly, this is rarely the case for many people. Because of how much we sit, and how little we walk around barefoot, the bottoms of our feet are simply not as conditioned as they could be. This is really the problem – not so much what you put on your feet. If you’re accustomed to wearing supportive and cushioned shoes all the time, and then suddenly switch to flatter, less supportive flip flops in the summer, it’s going to be a shock to your foot. And if you’re prone to plantar fasciitis, it’s going to flare up during flip flop season.

The best thing you can do to prevent and treat plantar fasciitis is to not neglect your feet.

Performing consistent mobility exercises for your toes and ankles is key, as well as conditioning for the strength and stability of your arch. Balance exercises, toe exercises, and plyometric (jumping) exercises are all important, as well as making it a point to walk around without shoes as often as you can. If you’ve already got an ongoing problem with your foot, then I wouldn’t recommend haphazardly incorporating these exercises into your routine without guidance. Talk to an expert who can help you. Plantar fasciitis, when addressed correctly, is very treatable, and you could be back to enjoying flip flops in no time.

Are you local to Portsmouth, NH and looking for help with foot pan?

CLICK HERE to request a discovery call with our Client Success Team to see if we would be a good fit for you!

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].