Physical Therapy Tips

Physical Therapy is important to staying healthy! At Low Country Physical Therapy we are dedicated to helping our patients stay in the best condition. We find these tips to be successful no matter what program you are in.

Low Country Physical Therapy Tips

Sleeping posture may influence your pain. Consider the posture of your neck and back when you are falling asleep. The therapists at Low Country Physical Therapy recommend the following positions:

Back Sleeper:

  • Push the pillow on top of your shoulders to increase the resting arch support of your neck and let gravity allow your shoulders to roll back toward the bed
  • Place a pillow or 2 under your knees to improve resting posture of your back

Side Sleeper:

  • Push the pillow on top of your shoulders to increase the resting arch support of your neck
  • Consider your pillow thickness. You want the pillow to allow your head to be level with the horizon. If the pillow is too thick it will bend your head to the ceiling. If the pillow is too thin, it will bend your head to the floor
  • Put a body pillow in between your knees and wrap your arms around it to improve resting posture of back and shoulders

Stomach Sleeper:

  • Avoid this position
  • Laying on your stomach does not allow for adequate back, neck, or shoulder posture
  • If you must sleep in this position, put a pillow under your pelvis and at your forehead to improve resting alignment of neck and back

Having good balance is a critical component of healthy aging. Everyday activities such as putting on your shoes and getting up from a chair require subtle shifts in your body’s weight distribution. A healthy sense of balance allows you to hold your position or move at will during these activities without falling.

Why do I fall?
Gravity is constantly pulling you downwards, increasing you the tendency to fall if you loose your balance. However your ability to maintain balance prevents this from happening. As the body ages, muscle strength, joint ranges of motion, and reaction times all decrease. As a result, this has a negative effect on your balance control and may lead to a balance dysfunction.

How bad are falls for the elderly?
Falls from poor balance can cause serious and even life-threatening injuries. According to the CDC, accidental falls are the leading cause of death among older adults. Every year, one in three adults over the age of 65 falls, and the risk of falling increases proportionately with age. By 80 years old, over a half of seniors fall annually. Among this age group, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury related deaths. Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions, and 40% of all nursing home admissions. Unfortunately, 40% of those admitted to nursing homes do not return to independent living and 25% die within a year.

These statistics are pretty grim, but there is something you can do about it. Although some believe that limiting activities and becoming more sedentary will stop you from falling, the opposite is true. If you think you can avoid falling as long as you stay at home, know this: The majority of all falls take place inside the home and those who do fall are 2-3 time more likely to fall again.

What can I do about it?
Falling is not an inevitable result of aging, and there are steps you can take to improve your balance and decrease your chances of falling. Studies have shown that attention to certain risk factors, such as impaired balance, can significantly reduce rates of falling. Considerable evidence indicates that the most effective fall reduction programs involve systematic fall risk assessment and targeted interventions.

Additional research reveals that a physical therapist-prescribed exercise program targeting balance and strength can be effective in improving a number of balance and related outcomes in older people with mild balance impairment.

At Low Country Physical Therapy, we have a comprehensive Balance Program that includes assessment and evaluation programs, balance retraining, and vestibular rehabilitation. Our goal is to improve your balance, motor control, gait training, and help your body compensate for inner ear disorders. Gait training consists of making sure that your manner of walking is as effective, sure-footed, and safe as possible. A balanced, steady gait helps in the prevention of falls and injuries. Strength, endurance, balance, and coordination are all components of an effective gait. Our certified physical therapist works with patients to help them reach their goal of safe mobility.

Improving your balance can reduce your risk of falling, so make it a priority to get a balance assessment test from your doctor or a certified Physical Therapist.

Most people have felt dizzy at some point in life. It is very common and can have many causes, and is often described as a feeling of lightheadedness, felling unsteady on your feet, or motion sickness. Vertigo is typically a response to a physiological factor that is causing imbalance in your body. This typically feels like a spinning sensation.

Causes and symptoms of dizziness
Dizziness can be caused by many things, including a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, overexertion, or even a head cold or the flu. Dizziness can also occur from something as simple as standing up too quickly after an extended period of rest. Some accompanying symptoms to dizziness may include:

  • Loss of balance
  • Lightheadedness or heavy-headedness
  • Momentarily impaired vision (i.e. tunnel vision)
  • Feeling woozy or faint

Causes and symptoms of vertigo
Vertigo is most common cause of dizziness. It occurs because of an imbalance in the inner ear, also known as the “vestibular system.” Your vestibular system helps you maintain your balance and center of gravity by sending messages to your brain regarding your movement. This blocks necessary messages from your brain, and your movement becomes affected. You may feel as if the world is spinning around you, you can’t focus your vision, or you can’t stand/move properly without feeling like you are going to topple over. This type of vertigo is called Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is the most common cause of vertigo and is considered “true vertigo”. It occurs when the tiny calcium crystals located in the inner ear break apart and move around to different parts of the ear, where they are not supposed to be. This can cause sudden spinning sensations (vertigo) and inner-ear discomfort.

Other causes of dizziness/vertigo

  • Meniere’s disease
  • This occurs when fluid builds up in your ear(s). This typically includes “ringing” in your ear and sudden waves of intense dizziness that may last for hours. You may also experience momentary hearing losses.
  • Vestibular neuritis
  • This is an inner-ear infection that can cause vertigo
  • Migraines
  • Migraines impacts your vestibular system, causing episodes of vertigo, coupled with sensitivity to light or sound.
  • Stroke
  • A stroke affects movement in your whole body. If you recently suffered a stroke, you may experience waves of vertigo which may linger for extended periods of time.

Physical therapy
Both dizziness and vertigo can hinder your daily life, limiting your ability to perform even the simplest of tasks. Luckily, we have specialized physical therapists that can treat both dizziness and vertigo and get you back on the road to recovery.

If you’re like most Americans, you are now exclusively or more frequently working from home. As an informed citizen, it is your job to understand and implement ergonomics that will keep you comfortable and safe at a desk. Poor ergonomics may result in neck pain and/or cervicogenic headaches. A cervicogenic headache is a headache that is caused from maladaptive posture and muscular tension and weakness. If your headaches have gradually increased due to a change in posture, therapy can help you eliminate these headaches. Seek therapy sooner rather than later for faster results!

Our therapists have established tips and tricks on how to improve your desk setup at home: 

  1. Keep feet flat on the floor
  2. Keep your buttock against the back of the chair
  3. Place the top third of the monitor eye level
  4. Ensure the monitor is arms width away from where you are sitting
  5. Place the keyboard and mouse so that your elbows can maintain a 90 degree angle

Low Country Physical Therapy follows all CDC guidelines.  All staff and patients must wear a mask to keep the risk of infection down.  Treatment tables are separated by more than 6 feet.  Tables along with all equipment are consistently wiped after every patient.

Perhaps physical therapy can help! Arthritis can come in many different forms and can occur at all different ages.

What does arthritis actually mean? 

  • Arthritis is described broadly as inflammation to the joint.
  • When joints wear out with use and age, osteoarthritis may occur. This arthritis is specific to the joints that have been overused.
  • There are other forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis. This arthritis occurs as a result of an autoimmune response and commonly affects many joints.
  • Regardless of the type, physical therapists specialize in treating this!

What should I expect from my therapist to help with my joint pain? 

  • At Low Country Physical Therapy, your therapist will assess the joints above and below the joint you are having pain in. It is common for a joint to have arthritis because of faulty biomechanics and loading to a joint. The cause of your arthritis may be due to how your other joints move! In addition to treating your pain, the therapist will assess and treat flexibility restrictions, other joint restrictions, muscle weakness, posture, and movement dysfunctions. This will aid in preventing you from further degeneration to your joints and re-injury!

What are some helpful tips to reduce joint pain?

  • The exercises to perform depend on your irritability. In a broad sense, consider gentle oscillating movements that are pain free to loosen your joint. In the morning, the joints have more fluid build-up. Be mindful to only perform light exercises in the morning to avoid injury.

Can patients with joint pain predict the weather? 

  • Barometric pressure may have an effect on joint pain! The theory suggests that as barometric pressure drops right before the weather changes, the lower pressure outside pushes less against your body. This allows tissues to expand, which then places pressure on joints and causes pain to be perceived. It is still a debated topic among the healthcare community.
  • For more information, here is a link from Harvard: www.health.harvard.edu
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