Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Range of Motion

June 3, 2011

Physical therapy is often used to increase a joint’s range of motion — but just what does that mean?

Every joint allows movement: that’s what joints are for. Each joint normally moves in certain directions. So we expect to be able to twist our arm at the shoulder joint, but not to twist the knee around. We expect the knee to bend in one direction, but the wrist should be able to bend back and forth and side to side.

Each joint also has a normal amount of movement it can accomplish, expressed in angles. So a knee is expected to allow movement from a 0 degree angle (straight) to 150 degrees, which you’d experience when sitting on your knees as in the photo.

You wouldn’t expect your ankles to have the same range of motion.

Each joint has a degree and direction of motion that’s considered normal for that joint. If you have much less range of motion than this, you’re said to have a limited range of motion.

Limited range of motion can be caused by injury, inflammation, arthritis and other diseases and conditions, or even by fractures. Since there are so many possible causes, there are also many possible treatments.

Physical therapy is often recommended for limited range of motion. You may be given exercises, movement or manipulation of joints with support and assistance, or treatment with different kinds of machines.

Consistently following the treatment prescribed by your physical therapist is the key to success.

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Flip Flops and Pain

May 21, 2011

Flip flops used to be for kids to wear around the pool in summer. Now you can spend $250 for designer flip flops and increasing numbers of men and women wear them as their first choice for shoes.

Researchers at Auburn’s biomechanics library noticed an increase in pain among students in warm weather. Pain in feet, legs, heels, and backs seemed to go with fun, relaxing times — not what you’d expect. The researchers brainstormed all the differences they could come up with, and finally someone got the idea of studying flip flops.

Biomechanists filmed 39 students wearing flip flops, and analyzed the films. They had them walk on special platforms that measure force. Then they repeated the experiment with the same students wearing ordinary athletic shoes. They found some big differences:

  • You take shorter steps in flip flops, resulting not only in more movements to cover the same distance, but also in an unnatural gait that’s more taxing to the body.
  • You tense up your toes to keep the flip flops from falling off. As a result, the muscles that lift the foot can’t be as engaged, and the foot can’t be lifted normally. Instead of each muscles of the foot being engaged at a normal time and frequency, one set is always engaged and the other is never engaged, leading to cramping, shortening, and pain.
  • Flip flops create instability, further altering the gait while also increasing the likelihood of twisted ankles and falls.

The American College and Foot and Ankle Surgeons had already warned about increasing risks of heel pain from excess striking force and also of increasing risk of plantar fasciitis for people wearing flip-flops. It had previously been known that ill-fitting or poorly supporting shoes could threaten heel and ankle health, but it turns out that flip-flops are, by their very nature, ill-fitting and poorly supporting shoes.

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PT and HSA

December 2, 2010

Sometimes–and especially now, when many of us are making decisions about health insurance for next year–all the acronyms we deal with in health care can make you feel like you’re drowning in alphabet soup.

Officially, a Health Savings Account, or HSA, is a tax-advantaged savings account. You can put money into it before taxes and use it to pay for health care. Since you pay with pre-tax dollars, you save money. HSAs are available to people who have a high deductible health plan (yeah, that’s a HDHP), sometimes called “catastrophic” health coverage because they have such a high deductible that they are intended to cover serious illnesses, not everyday health care.This type of insurance plan is becoming more common in employee health plans as costs rise and changes take place in the health care system.

An HSA is considered an alternative to health insurance. It allows you to set money aside for future health expenses, and usually has tax benefits.

PT stands for physical therapy, which describes the kind of non-invasive care we offer at Innovative Spine Rehab. If you have a health savings account, you’ll probably wonder whether you can use it for physical therapy. The answer, usually, is yes.

At least that’s simple!

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A Healthy Thanksgiving–for Your Spine

November 18, 2010

We’ve written before about the connection between healthy eating and spine health. But what about Thanksgiving? This is one day of the year that many people take as a day off from healthy living. It’s just one day, right?

The average American eats 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving day. This is a quantity of calories and fat that causes your body to work extra hard. Your digestive system, your heart, and your gallbladder are all likely to be overwhelmed by the excess. This is one reason so many people need a nap after Thanksgiving dinner: their internal organs are working so hard that the body doesn’t have energy to support normal functioning.

What’s more, the excess of the Thanksgiving feast sets off, for many people, a bout of self-indulgence that lasts till New Year’s Day. Thanksgiving feast, leftover pie for breakfast the next day, a new pan of stuffing to keep the leftover turkey appealing, a round of office parties and celebrations, fudge and cookies in the break room, and the last thing on our minds is protein and minerals for bone health. In fact, the Average American gains 7 to 12 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s — enough to put extra strain on the spine and joints.

Do it differently this year. The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast is high protein, low fat turkey and plenty of vegetables. Go easy on the gravy and buttery sauces, choose whole grain bread instead of a fluffy roll, and be moderate when it comes to pie. Plan on healthy snacks while watching the game and send most of the leftovers home with your guests. The result will be a healthy holiday that won’t leave you tired and bad tempered.

While you’re planning a healthy holiday meal, plan for some activity, too. Schedule an afternoon walk, a game of touch or tag football, a trip to the skating rink, go biking or play active games with the kids. It might end up becoming a cherished family tradition.

But watch out if you’re usually sedentary. That game of football or Twister can turn into bad news for your back. Most injuries in this kind of situation result from a sudden twisting movement. Avoid that kind of move, and think about adding regular exercise into your routine through out the holidays this year. You’ll start the New Year with a great new habit and less to regret.

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Prevent Osteoporosis

October 21, 2010

October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day, making this a good time to remember one of the factors affecting spine health, especially among women.

Osteoporosis is a gradual weakening of the bones. Since it has no symptoms, patients are often first diagnosed after they’ve fractured a bone — often in the spine.

Why are women more at risk? For young women, dieting may be a culprit. Plenty of protein and calcium can help prevent osteoporosis. Lack of exercise can be an issue, too. Women who focus on  “spot toning” or crunches don’t get the benefits of weight bearing exercise, which is the kind recommended to prevent osteoporosis.

After menopause, women no longer have the protection of estrogen, and are in much greater danger than men of having osteoporosis.

Men still face osteoporosis, though. Men and women alike will benefit from a healthy diet with plenty of calcium, good amounts of vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercise like walking. Women can also discuss hormone replacement therapy with their doctors when they reach menopause.

Contact Innovative Spine Rehab of Arkansas to discuss a custom exercise program to get and keep you in optimum condition.

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Be Afraid… of Fall Chores?

October 14, 2010

Each year, 12,000 Americans seek medical attention following injuries sustained while… raking leaves. 17,000 are hurt in falls while putting up holiday decorations. And that’s before we even think about cleaning gutters or shoveling snow.

Here’s the key to the problem: we don’t think of those activities as dangerous, or even as strenuous. It’s a beautiful fall day, we’re ready to get outdoors, so we head out to plant some bulbs or wash some windows. We never even think about safety issues, and we’d laugh at anyone who told us to warm up first.

Quit laughing. Follow this advice and you’re much less likely to end up in pain:

  • Warm up before you start in on any intensive chores. If you’ve been sitting on the porch with a glass of sweet tea all summer, take a walk around the block before you break out the rake. Same thing if you’ve been sitting at a computer or in a classroom. You might not notice any loss of strength when you get sedentary for a while, but your body will.
  • Concentrate on good form. Keep your back straight, use the large muscles in your legs for power moves instead of your back, and avoid sudden twisting movements as you work. That sudden twist to catch a stray leaf of wave to a neighbor while you’re painting is one of the most common causes of back injury.
  • Be realistic about what you can do. If you’re planning to do something much more strenuous than usual, pace yourself. Use tools that are the right size for your strength. Work your way up to really hard work with a week or so of lighter jobs. Don’t try to lift more than you can comfortably carry.

Choose secure shoes and avoid any obviously foolhardy moves (no, you can’t reach around the corner while on the top of the ladder) and you’ll be able to enjoy your autumn chores without endangering your spine.

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Massage and Your Spine

September 2, 2010

Does massage really help your back? We know it feels good, but what are the effects  over the long run?

First, we have to define “massage.” That back rub from your spouse can make a temporary difference by relaxing tense muscles and making you feel better. Corporations have found  that bringing in a masseuse can increase productivity and reduce stress for workers. Even the sense of luxury and care can be enough to improve moods and give a better outlook on life.

But soft, relaxing massage doesn’t solve medical problems leading to acute or chronic back pain. Research on the effectiveness of massage in treatment of back pain is inconclusive, at least in part because studies often don’t differentiate between that relaxing back rub and specific kinds of therapeutic massage.

At Innovative Spine Rehab, we use a form of massage called “Active Release Technique,” or ART. This is a patented system of movement based massage using more than 500 different specific movements to treat problems caused by overused muscles. Repetitive motion injuries, accumulated small tears, and reduced oxygen flow to cells can all lead to pain.

Problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves, including headaches,  carpal tunnel syndrome, pain in shoulders and back, are among the conditions that often respond to ART. ART can also be combined with exercise and other specific treatments for maximum effectiveness.

However, it’s important to conduct a through examination, including your medical history, in order to be sure that ART is the correct treatment for your particular needs. Call Innovative Spine Rehab at (501) 221-6009 to schedule a consultation.