Are you looking for signs you need Physical Therapy? Day-to-day living takes a toll on the body. The wear-and-tear of even mundane activities, especially repetitive or physically stressful ones, can bring discomfort or pain. Typing. Tightening. Chopping. Taking a walk. Using a mouse. Clicking through a PowerPoint presentation. Throw one curveball into the mix and here comes trouble.
Some pains go away on their own. Some respond to home remedies. But some necessitate professional care.
Consider seeking help at one of our convenient Western New York locations if you experience any of the following:
Signs You Need Physical Therapy
Even brushing your teeth can be unbearable if you have trigeminal neuralgia, or Fothergill's disease, which causes shooting pain in the face. Medication can help, but so can physical therapy, often more sustainably. We work with patients to develop exercises, techniques, and even habits designed to
- manage the pain;
- improve range of motion; and
- reduce tension in the affected area.
Physical therapists not only help patients with trigeminal neuralgia maintain oral health; they also help them improve their quality of life.
So, if you think you have trigeminal neuralgia, talk with your healthcare provider about how physical therapy might help.
If your jaw pops or clicks when you move your mouth, you might have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ.
A common condition, TMJ can make simply eating and speaking hurt. A physical therapist can
- work with you to develop exercises and techniques to alleviate pain and improve your jaw's range of motion, and
- recommend helpful lifestyle changes such as avoiding hard or chewy foods and reducing stress.
If you think you have TMJ, contact Advanced Care Physical Therapy to schedule an evaluation and start a personalized treatment plan.
Pain at the joint of the jaw and skull
Temporomandibular dysfunction, or TMD, also affects the joint of the jawbone and skull. TMD causes pain and tenderness and limits jaw mobility. It can cause headaches, too, or pain in the ears or neck.
A physical therapist determines the cause -- injury, arthritis, grinding of the teeth -- and develops a personalized treatment plan. Such a plan may include exercises to improve jaw mobility and reduce pain or techniques to reduce tension in the jaw and surrounding muscles.
This kind of headache – a dull pain that can extend into the neck and shoulders – is common. The cause is muscle tension from stress.
Tension headaches aren’t isolated events so much as indicators of an overarching condition – stress, say, or maybe poor posture. A physical therapist determines the cause or causes and develops exercises and stretches designed to improve posture or reduce tension in the neck and shoulder muscles and improve range of motion.
If you're experiencing tension headaches, talk to your healthcare provider about how physical therapy might help.
Headaches behind the eyes or on the scalp
Several conditions can mimic a migraine. This headache disorder involving the occipital nerves in the neck is one of them.
Occipital neuralgia’s possible causes include inflamed occipital nerves, pinched nerves, muscle tightness, a fall, a stroke, or a tumor. The disease can affect anyone, especially those with degenerative disc disease, diabetes, gout, osteoarthritis, blood-vessel inflammation, or a head or neck injury.
A bout of occipital neuralgia may last a few seconds or a few hours, until the nerve damage heals or is reduced.
Physical therapy treatments for this kind of headache include massage; exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles around the head and neck; joint manipulation and mobilization; and cold laser therapy.
Try out our Head & Neck/TMJ/Migrain specialist Dr. Kristy Frye here at Advanced Care Physical Therapy.
Swift, unpredictable, and often debilitating – at least momentarily – muscle contractions can affect the calves, thighs, hands, arms, or feet, and they range from twitches to prolonged and painful tightness.
People of all ages get muscle spasms, and the treatments are the same for virtually everyone. They start with stretching and massage but include a wide range of techniques, including ultrasound therapy, mechanical traction, manual therapy techniques, and soft-tissue mobilization.
Even simply walking can help, as can the application of heat or ice or submersion in a warm bath.
Physical therapy not only can help manage muscle spasms; it also can help prevent them.
Pain in the spinal joints
Facet joints -- bony parts of the spine resembling little pinecones – connect the vertebrae; enable movement; and serve as conduits for nerves on their way elsewhere in the body.
Time, trauma, and even, ironically, sleep or exercise can take a toll on these spiky joints, making them hurt. So can being seated for a long time. Most-often affected are the facet joints in the neck and lower back.
Among the treatments for facet dysfunction and pain are heat therapy, lumbar support, a cold pack, a supportive brace, low-impact exercises to strengthen the lower-back, leg, and stomach muscles & manual therapy techniques
Neck pain or a loss of sensation
A pinched nerve in the neck, a condition known as cervical radiculopathy, can cause pain or numbness.
The nerves running through the cervical section of the spine serve as communication lines between the brain and muscles. Through age or injury, these nerves sometimes become compressed. Symptoms might go away on their own but occasionally require physical therapy to relieve the pain, restore normal motion, and improve strength and posture.
Treatment may include massage, application of heat and/or ice, and ultrasound.
Pain from an injury accident
Among the more-common causes of the injuries we see in patients are motor-vehicle crashes, falls, job injuries, and sports or workout mishaps.
Here’s a breakdown by cause and treatment:
Many people we help at Advanced Care Physical Therapy have been hurt in traffic accidents. Common injuries include:
- Whiplash, a violent, back-and-forth snapping of the head like the crack of a whip. Like many of the injuries in this list, whiplash has more than one cause; though usually associated with motorists who have been in rear-end collisions, it can happen to athletes and others, too.
Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, limited range of motion, headaches, and dizziness.
Whiplash damages soft tissue in the neck. Treatment can include deep-tissue massage; hot or cold therapy, the former to promote relaxation, the latter to reduce inflammation; ultrasound, to relieve spasms, cramping, stiffness, and pain; and exercises designed to improve strength and range of motion.
- Fractures, some of which, after being addressed by a healthcare provider or surgeon, may require physical therapy to help the patient regain optimum function in the limb where the break occurred. We work with your doctor to devise a treatment program just for you, one that may include ultrasound therapy, therapeutic exercise, or gait (walking) training.
There are many conditions physical therapy can help prevent as well as treat. This is one of those. A patient injured in a fall may, after being treated for a wrist sprain or back pain, benefit from exercises to improve balance and strength.
Older adults are especially susceptible to balance problems, which are most common among people 75 or older. Besides the usual slips and trips that can cause a fall, falls involving the elderly may be attributable to medications or drug interactions, stroke, or low blood pressure.
One tried-and-true way of preventing falls in such cases is balance training, or vestibular rehabilitation.
Every seven seconds, a worker is injured on the job in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. That amounts to 12,900 workers per day and 4.7 million a year.
Three leading causes of work-related injuries treated in an emergency department, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are contact with objects and equipment, overexertion and bodily reaction, and falls, slips and trips without a fall.
Workplace injuries aren’t always sudden or traumatic, however. Soft-tissue injuries and musculoskeletal disorders can develop through sustained exposure to force, vibration, repetitive motion, or awkward posture.
We address these and other kinds of work-related injury with a range of effective treatments, including the McKenzie Method, which uses various movements and positions to relieve pain and correct the behavior causing it.
At Advanced Care, a physical therapist works with your doctor to devise a treatment program expressly for you.
- Sports or workout injury
Athletes often suffer injuries requiring physical therapy. Athletes’ five most-commonly injured body parts are the Achilles tendon, the ankle, the elbow, the head, the knee, and the shoulder.
Knees are complicated, consisting of bones, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments; much can go wrong. The biggest sign that something may be wrong is pain.
A common cause of a torn meniscus is suddenly changing direction while running or walking, twisting the knee.
Physical therapy is effective in treating such injuries. Even when surgery is needed, physical therapy often is required for pre- or rehabilitation. Such is the case with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains and tears
The ACL and PCL ligaments hold together not only the knee but the whole leg. They also serve as shock absorbers and stabilizers. Damage one and you may need anything from rest to surgery.
At Advanced Care, a physical therapist works with your doctor to devise an appropriate treatment program that may include ultrasound therapy, kinesiology, or rock, taping, and/or therapeutic exercise.
Other injuries commonly found in athletes are
- achilles tendinitis, the overuse of a band of tissue connecting the calf muscles and heel;
- plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of a band of tissue in the sole of the foot that connects the heel and toes;
- concussion, a closed-head injury affecting brain function; and
- tennis or golfer’s elbow, a painful, repetitive-motion injury affecting tendons in the elbow. Its name notwithstanding, this injury can affect plumbers, painters, carpenters, and butchers, too.
Among the more common causes of pain in the back are a slipped vertebra and bone spurs. Here’s a look at both:
- Spondylolisthesis, a spinal condition that causes lower back pain, happens when a vertebra slips out of place onto the vertebra below it. Treatments include
- Manual therapy techniques
- Osteophytes, or bone spurs in the spine, can squeeze nerves and cause pain. Ironically, they’re the body’s own handiwork, collateral damage from the natural repair of cartilage. A laminectomy removes this spiky section of backbone, relieving the painful pressure.
Rib pain can make breathing agonizing and sleeping impossible, and you could have just about anything or anyone to thank -- including that power forward whose rock-of-Gibraltar shoulder you came down on while leaping for a rebound in your weekly pickup game. Whatever the cause, we work with your doctor to devise a treatment program expressly for you.
An injury to a muscle or tendon, whether a tear or a minor pull, is a muscle strain. Muscle strains often affect the lower back or hamstrings and can cause pain and swelling. At Advanced Care, we work with your doctor to devise a treatment program just for you. Treatments may include ultrasound therapy or therapeutic exercise.
Discomfort in the buttocks
Anyone who’s experienced a literal pain in the butt -- one originating in a nerve, joint, or muscle – may have wished for the figurative kind instead. Compared to sacroiliac joint dysfunction, a spiteful neighbor can seem downright delightful.
The two sacroiliac joints connect the spine and pelvis, and pain starting there can radiate a long way through the body, from the buttocks and thigh all the way to the lower leg and foot.
Then there’s piriformis syndrome.
Although the piriformis muscle is confined to your rear end, it figures prominently in almost every lower-body movement and can cause pain and discomfort all the way to your foot when it spasms and pinches the sciatic nerve.
Piriformis syndrome is uncommon – doctors say it accounts for less than six percent of low-back pain – but, if you have it, you may think of little else.
If you have either one of these conditions, a physical therapist works with your doctor to devise a treatment program expressly for you.
Exercise avoidance prompted by uncomfortable or tight muscles
The core, those body-stabilizing muscles stretching from the abdomen down through the trunk, support the spine, facilitate balance and movement, and minimize stress on the joints, can be a source of great strength or great weakness – depending on how you treat it.
A weak core can be a vicious cycle insofar as it discourages the very kinds of exercise needed to correct it, making you want to just sink into a soft couch. We can help reverse this self-defeating tendency with a treatment program designed just for you.
Physical therapy works well with many surgical procedures by preparing the patient in ways designed to speed recovery and then helping him or her through rehabilitation.
Among the parts of the body that can benefit greatly from physical therapy both pre- and post-op are the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Procedures commonly preceded and followed by physical therapy include:
- shoulder replacement and reverse shoulder replacement;
- hip-joint replacement;
- knee surgery; and
- foot or ankle procedures performed to correct a range of conditions, including bunions, arthritis, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, chronic pain, or deformities.
Pain or discomfort from physical activity
Physical therapists help many people who experience pain or discomfort caused by too much of a certain kind of activity. Among the conditions of this sort that we treat are:
Tendons are the cords connecting muscle to bone. Overuse them and they’ll take it out on you, becoming inflamed, irritated, painful.
Among those who commonly suffer tendonitis are baseball pitchers, swimmers, and volleyball players.
Physical therapy techniques effective in treating tendonitis include
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- electrical stimulation (E-Stim); and
- cold (low-level) laser therapy.
- Manual therapy techniques
The iliotibial band is a long, fibrous tendon running between the hip and kneecap on the outfacing side of the leg. ITB Syndrome – irritation or swelling that comes from overuse of this tendon — is common among athletes.
Anyone can tear the thick, triangular ligament on the inside of the elbow, but athletes are most likely to do so. The UCL isn’t very big, but it’s a huge source of worry for parents of Little Leaguers eager to throw curveballs.
Bear in mind that butchers, too – and plumbers, and just about anyone else given to repetitive motion – can suffer this injury.
A shoulder that pops out once is more vulnerable to popping out again. And again.
Also called adhesive capsulitis, this condition, characterized by shoulder stiffness and pain, comes on slowly, worsens slowly, and improves slowly. Intentional immobilization of the shoulder, as after surgery, is one of the causes.
Hip discomfort or pain
Three of the more common sources of hip pain are
- bursitis, a painful condition that affects the fluid-filled sacs cushioning joints;
- a labral tear in the ring of cartilage cushioning and holding together the hip joint; and
- impingement, in which extra bone growth deforms the joint, making it balky and painful.
The knee ligaments connect the thigh and lower leg, holding together not only the joint but the whole limb while also serving as the body’s shock absorbers and stabilizers.
Knee ligaments, of which there are a handful, come in two kinds: collateral, for sideways motion, and cruciate, for back-and-forth stuff. Damage one and you may need anything from rest to surgery.
The four ligaments of the knee most often damaged are the anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral collateral. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Though the most common location for a sprain is the ankle, the knee, too, is at risk for such an injury.
Among the conditions that may cause someone discomfort while walking are
- peroneal or tibial tendonitis; and
- Morton’s neuroma, a condition that may, among other things, feel like a rock in your shoe.
It's important to note that not all these signs necessarily mean you require the services of a physical therapist, but if you are experiencing any of them you should consider scheduling an appointment with one.
At Advanced Care Physical Therapy, our team of experienced physical therapists is committed to helping patients achieve their goals and get back to living their lives to the fullest. With locations throughout Western New York, including Buffalo, Williamsville/Amherst , Hamburg, Orchard Park, and West Seneca, we are here to help you with your physical therapy needs.
Don't let pain or discomfort hold you back any longer. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step toward feeling better.