What are vestibular disorders? How do they affect balance?
with advice from Meghan Lass, PT, DPT
The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, is integral to a person’s balance. It collects information on your position and location and works with the central nervous system to keep you balanced.
Out of the three systems that manage balance (the visual system, the somatosensory system, and the vestibular system), it is the slowest and last to react. When your vestibular system is not working properly, you cannot process your location in the space around you, causing unsteadiness, imbalance and dizziness. But physical therapy can help!
There are several types of vestibular disorders, explains Meghan Lass, a physical therapist who specializes in vestibular therapy at Conshohocken Physical Therapy, a Physiquality network member in Pennsylvania. One type, peripheral vestibular disorders, are problems in the inner ear. These can be caused by a number of things, including:
How to treat shin splints
with advice from Lisa Cox, ATC
Simply put, when you have pain in the shin bone or tibia (the front of your lower leg), you have shin splints. Most common in runners and dancers, shin splints can be caused by overuse or overtraining, or musculoskeletal issues like ankle instability or flat feet.
When you experience such pain, especially while exercising, it is best to back off from activity. If the pain continues, says Lisa Cox, “medical care should be sought sooner than later.” A certified athletic trainer at Clinton Physical Therapy Center (a Physiquality member in Tennessee), Lisa explains that those who wait 3 – 4 weeks to seek treatment often have longer recovery times than those who seek treatment sooner.
In addition, she says, some athletes who simply shrug off the pain as “just shin splints” end up having stress fractures, which must be treated by a physician and usually require a walking boot or cast. Such treatment also requires a complete break from activity until the fractures heal.
Preparing for your first race
with advice from Ryan Bozant, PT, DPT
In theory, running is an easy sport to take up — it might seem that you could simply put on a pair of running shoes and run. But if you don’t take into consideration the proper form, training, shoes and nutrition, you could easily set yourself up for an injury.
While we all may have run around the playground as children, running is not a natural skill for most of us as adults. Many of us sit for hours at a time, in front of a computer at work or at home on the couch. So before you focus on improving your time, make sure that you have thought about your form. If you have tried running already, but have felt pain after or especially while running, consider seeing a physical therapist for a fitness assessment, as well as gait analysis, to determine whether improving your form can reduce pain and the chance of injury.
Working out while baby is sleeping
with advice from Rachelle Hill, PT, MSPT, CSCS
and Ann Cowlin, MA, CSM, CCE
Any parent will tell you that taking care of young children can wear you out. They need constant care and attention, their schedule shifts from day to day and week to week, and their mood swings will definitely affect their parents’ demeanor.
While many moms (and dads) skip exercise because it’s too challenging to work into their schedule, as we’ve mentioned before, exercise can help parents lose excess weight, minimize depression and feel better.
“Finding time to exercise is one of the biggest challenges for parents,” says Rachelle Hill (a physical therapist at Moreau Physical Therapy in Louisiana), “along with finding the energy to get going.” She recommends setting goals to help you stick to a routine. Whether the goal is losing weight, improving your health, or getting rid of back pain, she advises posting goals in highly visible areas, like the bathroom mirror or the front of the refrigerator, so they are hard to miss.
What every golfer should know about injuries
with advice from Brandon Brackeen, PT, DPT,
Marc Schoettle, PT, DPT
and Chris Wickel, PT, DPT, Cert. MDT
Whether you just started hitting the links or have been playing golf for years, understanding the variety of injuries that can result from playing golf will help your game, as well as your overall wellness.
For beginners, says Chris Wickel, a physical therapist at Conshohocken Physical Therapy (a Physiquality member in Pennsylvania), injuries can often happen because of poor body mechanics. While many people may think it’s simple to pick up a set of clubs and hit the links, a bad golf swing can lead to years of bad habits (and bad scores).
If you’re new to the sport, consider taking some lessons with a teaching pro — the PGA certifies teachers who can ensure that you learn the game with proper form. If you’ve tried playing and have felt pain during your swing, consider consulting with a physical therapist, whose musculoskeletal expertise can reduce pain and improve your game. As a Titleist Performance Institute Certified medical professional, Chris is an expert in evaluating a player’s golf swing and pinpointing where an error occurs in its mechanics.
What is tennis elbow?
by Anthony Marino, PT, DPT
We’ve all heard of “tennis elbow,” but do you know what causes it and how physical therapy can help?
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is inflammation of the forearm tendons on the outside of the elbow. They usually become damaged from overuse when performing repetitive activities involving gripping, and not just when playing tennis. The damage can also be caused from excessive turning of the wrist when using tools or typing on a computer keyboard and clicking a mouse. This leads to microtears of the lateral elbow tendons, creating pain, tenderness and inflammation at the outside of the elbow.
The symptoms of tennis elbow feel mild at first and progress gradually over weeks to months. There is usually no trauma or specific cause associated with it, but these symptoms can persist and become chronic in nature if not properly treated. Common symptoms include:
What you should know about TMJ and TMD
with advice from Renee Bailey, PTA
and Pressure Positive
Temporomandibular joint disorders or dysfunction, often referred to as TMJ or TMD, cover a wide variety of problems, most commonly pain and muscular tightness in the jaw. You’ve no doubt heard of this problem, but did you know that physical therapy is one of the solutions?
TMD can be a result of a variety of causes, explains Renee Bailey, a physical therapist assistant at Conshohocken Physical Therapy, a Physiquality member in Pennsylvania. “Symptoms can arise from something as simple as bad posture habits, or it can be a result of trauma to the joint, like a direct hit or impact, a whiplash injury, or even clenching or grinding your teeth,” she says.
The most widely reported symptom of TMD is pain, which can range from the jaw to the neck, ears and shoulders and can also present as a headache. Other symptoms noted by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research include stiffness in the jaw muscles and joint; limited movement or locking of the jaw; clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening/closing the mouth and while chewing; difficulty swallowing; and changes in how the upper and lower teeth fit together. Renee has also seen patients that experienced ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and dizziness.
How physical therapists can help seniors increase activity for healthy aging
with advice from Randy Gustafson, PT, MPT, MOMT,
Cindy Powell, PT, MPT, ATC, STS
and Mika Yoshida, CSCS, EP-C
Aging isn’t fun for anyone. Your memory starts to fade, your body slows down and gains weight, and your joints start to stiffen. And while no one can reverse or stop the aging process, one of the best ways to reduce the speed at which your body is changing is to be more active.
“As the years go by, staying active becomes one of the key factors in staying independent, pain-free and feeling good,” says Randy Gustafson, a physical therapist and the owner of Physiquality member Mesa Physical Therapy in San Diego, California. Exercise is known to help prevent and reduce such problems as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, along with its more obvious benefits of increasing strength and reducing — or at least maintaining — weight. And, Randy points out, better health from increased activity often allows patients to reduce their reliance on some medications, allowing patients to take them less frequently or sometimes quit them altogether.