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Do You Know Why You Have Back Pain? Here’s How You Can Find Out



Is the source of your low back pain a mystery? You’re not alone: Nine out of 10 patients don’t know the primary cause of their back pain. The problem is that most people seek treatment after they’ve begun exhibiting symptoms of back pain. While this may seem logical on the surface, we’re here to tell you that there’s a better way.

The key is to go to a physical therapist before you begin to see the signs and symptoms of back pain. I’m sure that right about now you’re asking, “Why would I do that?” One, because physical therapists are trained to recognize the physical dysfunctions that may one day lead to back pain. And two, because eight out of 10 Americans suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives, so the chances are good that you could become a statistic one day.

Seeing a physical therapist on an annual basis is one of the most effective ways to prevent back pain from occurring in the first place. Doesn’t that sound like the better alternative? Great, now that you’re on board, let’s talk about what you can expect during that annual physical therapy appointment. The first time you go, your physical therapist will collect a complete picture of your medical history. During subsequent visits, it’ll be important to update your physical therapist about any changes to your health during the previous 12 months, but it won’t be necessary to review your entire medical history again.

Next, your physical therapist will perform an examination using a variety of tests and measures including a movement screen. A movement screen is a screening tool that’s designed to identify imbalances in your mobility and stability that may contribute to limited function or other impairments. This gives your PT the ability to see how your back, hips, core, shoulders, knees and ankles perform during a series of carefully selected exercises.

The information gathered during an examination helps your physical therapist to identify changes from one year to the next, a critical step in assessing your risk for back pain and a host of other debilitating conditions. If a problem is identified early enough, then your physical therapist is better equipped to discuss preventive measures instead of designing a treatment plan. And that’s how you identify the root cause of back pain and derail issues before they even begin. Mystery solved.


Published on August 13, 2018 9:34 pm
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Yearly Physical Therapy Visits are Just as Important as Annual Cholesterol Tests



You know the drill: During your annual visit, your primary care physician will order a cholesterol test. Combined with an assessment of health measures such as diet and exercise, the results of the cholesterol test will provide your physician with the information she needs to make arecommendation. If the results are positive, you might hear: “You’re doing great, keep doing what you’ve been doing!” If the results are unfavorable, then you’re more likely to be told: “I’dlike you to walk for 20 additional minutes each day and eat cholesterol-lowering foods likeoatmeal.”

Over time, high cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to form in your arteries, putting you in a high-risk category for heart disease and stroke. Similarly, the cumulative effects of poor posture or a muscular imbalance, for example, can take a toll on your body and inhibit your ability to move properly. That’s where a physical therapist comes in: Annual PT “checkups” can catch the musculoskeletal problems that put you at risk for injury or limit your ability to function down the line.

Of course, it’s best to schedule your checkup before you’re experiencing a problem. That way,your physical therapist can establish a baseline based on your functional level at that time and use it to identify changes during subsequent annual visits. The effects of poor posture or a muscular imbalance may not be immediately apparent to you, but they will be to your PT.

An annual “checkup” gives your PT an inside look at your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues. It’s important that these essential internal structures are working together to support, stabilize and move your body.

Just as taking an annual trek to the primary care physician helps to monitor your cholesterol levels—and prevent heart disease—yearly physical therapy appointments allow your PT to identify and address any changes in the way you move before they become something more.


Published on July 12, 2018 8:52 am
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How Much Physical Activity Do Kids Need?



Recently we have seen a rise of diseases in children that in the past had only been seen in adults. Things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are being seen more frequently in children. One of the best ways to combat the rise of these diseases is to make sure that your kids are getting enough physical activity.

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidelines recommending that youth ages 6-17 participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity 7 days/ week. This is total activity time, so 1 hour, 2 30 minute sessions, or 4 sessions of 15 minutes each in a day would all satisfy this recommendation. Most of this activity should be at either moderate or vigorous intensity.

An easy way to distinguish vigorous vs moderate intensity exercise is as follows:

Moderate intensity allows you to talk but not sing during or right after activity

Vigorous intensity allows you to say only a few words at a time

As part of the 60 minutes daily, it is recommended that children participate in muscle strengthening activities 3 days/week and bone strengthening activities 3 days/week. Some activities that would fit into these categories are listed below:

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  1. Games like tug of war
  2. Climbing playground equipment
  3. Push ups, pull ups, or sit ups
  4. Activities like crab walking, bear walking, or wheelbarrow with a partner

Bone Strengthening Activities

  1. Hopscotch
  2. Jumping rope
  3. Skipping
  4. Sports that include jumping like basketball or volleyball

To get and keep kids participating, physical activity should be fun and incorporated into playful activities that are age appropriate. Being involved in physical education in school is important, especially if children are not involved in extracurricular activities that meet the requirements. Summer camps can be a great way to keep kids active during summer vacation.

For more information check out:

  1. https://health.gov/paguidelines/midcourse/youth-fact-sheet.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm

Published on July 2, 2018 10:31 am
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One Annual Health Visit That’s Probably Missing from Your Calendar



Some health habits are instilled in us at a young age. For as long as you can remember, for example, you made annual treks in the family minivan to both the pediatrician and the dentist. As you entered adulthood, you probably transitioned to a primary care physician, and maybe even a different dentist better equipped to address adult needs. Anytime you’ve moved or switched insurance carriers, one of your first priorities has been to track down new providers. Now you may even choose to schedule visits more than once a year, when necessary. You probably figure that between the two healthcare professionals, all of your health needs are covered, right? Or maybe you need another annual visit?

As it turns out, these healthcare professionals aren’t specifically trained to assess your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and other connective tissues. Then who is the right healthcare professional to ensure that these essential internal structures are working properly and helping to support, stabilize and move your body? A physical therapist.

At a yearly physical therapy “checkup,” your PT will gather your medical history and observe as you participate in screening tests and other assessments to establish a baseline of your physical abilities, fitness level and personal health. Physical therapists are educated on how your musculoskeletal system functions properly and are trained to identify dysfunctions before they grow into bigger problems.

To maximize the encounter with your physical therapist, it’s important to be prepared before your appointment. To ensure that you cover everything and address any issues you may be having,  make a list that includes:

  • Health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Current medications, including supplements
  • Physical fitness activities
  • New activities you’re considering
  • Fitness goals

The information exchange between you and your PT is critical to forming an ongoing relationship, and to ensuring that you’re functioning and moving at top form. By understanding what sports and recreational activities you’re currently participating in and the fitness goals you’re aiming to achieve, your PT will be better prepared to make recommendations and tailor a home exercise program designed to help you achieve your goals.

Making wellness a part of your everyday life and taking steps to ensure that your musculoskeletal system is functioning at top notch can be very empowering and rewarding. Why not begin—or continue—that journey with a physical therapist? Now that you know how to prepare for a physical therapy checkup, and understand what you can expect during the appointment, the next step is to call and schedule your annual visit. At East Athens Phyiscal Therapy, you can either call us or contact us online. We’ll be happy to help!


Published on June 13, 2018 3:40 pm
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Physical Therapy’s Scope of Practice Extends Beyond Aches and Pains to Mental Health



Physical therapy is an obvious choice when you’ve sprained an ankle or developed tennis elbow, but what about when you need to boost your mood? Though highly skilled in methods that improve mobility and reduce pain following an injury, physical therapists can also play a key role in improving a patient’s mental health.

Exercise, a core component of any physical therapy regimen, is known to benefit patients with mild to moderate mood disorders such as depression. Depression is an underlying condition often associated with chronic illnesses and orthopedic injuries that limit mobility and
participation in daily activities. With depression affecting one in 10 Americans at some point in their lives, physical therapy is another avenue to diagnose and treat the associated symptoms.

Physical activity reduces feelings of anxiety, depression and stress by improving the patient’s cognitive function and self-esteem. Moreover, studies have shown that aerobic exercise decreases overall tension levels, elevates and stabilizes mood and improves sleep. Because exercise’s mind-altering effects are temporary, however, patients should work with a physical therapist to develop a regular exercise routine to ensure continued benefits.

Patients can expect to work closely with a physical therapist to develop a custom treatment plan based on a thorough assessment and detailed patient history. PTs are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and identify the ways in which mental health disorders interfere with a person’s ability to enjoy life. Each individual care plan includes some combination of flexibility, strength, coordination and balance exercises designed to achieve optimal physical function.

Physical therapists may be trained to identify and treat a wide range of movement disorders including sprains and strains but they’re also adept at identifying and reducing symptoms of depression. Developing behaviors that maintain good mental health is an important part of overall health and wellness, and it’s never too late to get started.


Published on June 5, 2018 7:32 am
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