Blog and news
By: Ashley Rodriguez
If you have experienced substantial injury or undergone surgery, you may have been surprised when your doctor suggested physical therapy programs to aid your recovery.
Going to physical therapy at a time when you are tempted to relax and take it easy may seem like a burden, but it can actually help you recover faster. While you might think that a successful procedure is enough to get your body functioning the way it should, the rehabilitation process is just as crucial for a full recovery.
The Rehabilitation Process
Physical therapy can help your body regain its original capabilities. The process can involve almost anything – from relearning essential bodily functions to muscle-building and improving mobility.
The sessions are carefully-planned and specially designed to get your body out of its weakened state, and gradually increase your strength and freedom of motion so you can return to living a normal life as soon as possible. They may be composed of all or a combination of the following:
Stretching and Strength Exercises
After not having served their purpose for a while, your joint and muscles may become rigid. Stretching plays an important role in preserving the body’s range of motion and maintaining muscular flexibility. Strengthening exercises, on the other hand, focus on improving the strength and endurance of the different muscles in your body.
Core Strength and Stability
Consider your core as the foundation of your body. Build something on a weak foundation, and it will collapse – maybe not now, but eventually. These programs put an emphasis on building up the core muscles, especially that of the back and pelvis to better the chances and potentially hasten the progress of recovery.
Ice and Heat Application
Cooling the muscles can decrease swelling while heating them helps stimulate blood circulation. Done right and with proper timing, ice and heat application can be very beneficial to the therapeutic process.
Ultrasound and Electrical Stimulation
There are situations when using ultrasound may be necessary to stimulate the tissues within your body. On some instances, passing an electrical current through the affected area changes the nerve conduction in that specific region, which, in turn, increases blood flow and improves muscle contractility.
The Many Benefits of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be very troublesome, uncomfortable, and inconvenient, but in most cases, it does get the job done. Here are some of the many benefits of physical therapy to bear in mind:
Regain your mobility
Limited range of motion is a common scenario post-surgery or after an injury. Physical therapy helps your joints and muscles regain mobility and resume their normal functions.
Enhance the healing process
While it’s true that the body has the ability to heal itself, it can use a hand. Physical therapy can make the healing process go faster and smoother. The ultimate goal of physical therapy is to pave the way for a faster but safe recovery.
Reduce the Risk of Further Injury
Engaging your body in physical activities is a good way to heal, but they may also cause more harm than good without proper planning and guidance. Physical therapy programs are tailor-made so that your body is only subjected to the amount of stress it can handle.
If you’re recovering from a condition that brought about a drastic change in your daily life, physical therapy can help you avoid injuries as you adjust and acclimate yourself to the newness of it all. Without a doubt, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which often worsens when you try to sleep on the involved side. A torn rotator cuff is a very common shoulder injury that can be caused from repeated movements while playing sports, performing a job function or doing common household chores such as yard work. Other common causes of a torn rotator cuff include falling, lifting or pulling a heavy object, or in some cases bone spurs in the shoulder.
With repeated motion, the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder socket can become torn. A torn rotator cuff can be both painful and inconvenient, which is why it is so important to get a diagnosis early if you think you may have this injury.
4 Common Symptoms of a Torn Rotator Cuff
Some of the symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include:
- Pain– Many people feel a dull ache in their shoulder joint in association with a torn rotator cuff. The pain is typically felt deep in the joint and can increase with movement of the shoulder.
- Limited range of motion– If you have a torn rotator cuff you may find it difficult to reach behind your back, lift your arm over your head, or lift your arm laterally.
- Disturbed sleep– Because of the pain in the shoulder, many people find it difficult to sleep, particularly on the side of the injured arm.
- Weakness– Muscle weakness in the arm on the injured side of the body is a common symptom of a torn rotator cuff.
- Crackling sensation – when moving the shoulder in certain directions.
An orthopedic doctor will diagnose a rotator cuff injury by palpating the area and doing a series of range of motion tests. In some cases scanning equipment is used to identify damage to the soft tissue in the shoulder joint.
Common treatments for a torn rotator cuff include rest, joint immobilization and physical therapy. Many people recover from rotator cuff injury with physical therapy exercises that improve flexibility and strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint; however, in extreme cases, surgery may be recommended.
Shoulder injuries such as a torn rotator cuff should be treated immediately to prevent further damage and start the healing process as soon as possible. See a physician right away if you have a sudden loss of motion after an injury — you could have a substantial rotator cuff tear.
If you have pain lasting longer than a few weeks or you’ve been formally diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear, you need to be seen by a shoulder specialist, because some of the surgical procedures are time sensitive. Please contact Miller Orthopedic Specialists today if you think you may have torn your rotator cuff!
Dry needling involves the insertion of a fine filament needle into neuromuscular junctions /motor points, stimulating the muscles, and bringing unbelievable pain relief and significantly improved function to athletes and patients who have been suffering for years.
There is no injectable solution and the needle which is used is very thin. Most patients will not even feel the needle penetrate the skin, but once advanced into the muscle, the patient may have a sensation like a muscle cramp – which is often referred to as a “twitch response”. The twitch response results in deactivating the trigger point, thereby reducing pain and restoring normal length and function to the involved muscle.
Typically positive results are apparent within 2-4 treatment sessions but may vary depending on cause and duration of the symptoms and overall health of the patient. Dry needling is an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain, rehabilitation from injury, and even pain and injury prevention, with very few side effects. This technique is unequaled in finding and eliminating neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits.
Dry needling may also be used for many acute, chronic and sports related injuries such as:
- Muscular hematomas
- Muscle strains/tears
- Compartment syndrome
- Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Impingement syndrome
- Tennis/golfer’s elbow
- Piriformis syndrome
- Cervicogenic headaches
- Hamstring issues
- IT band syndrome
- Patellar Femoral Syndrome
- Patellar tendonitis
- Achilles tendonopathies
- Plantar fasciitis
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Back pain: A common cause of nerve irritation and neuropathic pain is underlying spinal degeneration (i.e. spondylosis of the spine), which can be a result of trauma and/or normal wear and tear. Spondylosis irritates the nerve root and leads to neuropathy which can result in muscle shortening. This process leads to pain and dysfunction in many common acute and chronic conditions that practitioners see in their everyday patient population. The introduction of a dry needle into the active trigger sites of these muscles can provide enormous relief of symptoms.
Miller Orthopedic Specialists own physical therapist, Joshua Blintz, PT, DPT, is now providing Dry Needling Therapy as a treatment option. Call 712-323-5333 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.
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