When to see a Physical Therapist

See Your Physical Therapist to Nip Potential Injuries in the Bud

You probably already know to make an appointment with a physical therapist when you sprain your ankle or develop tennis elbow. But what if you’ve felt a slight twinge in your knee during your daily walk or noticed that your posture has changed since you accepted a job that requires sitting for eight hours a day? Or maybe you’ve been thinking about joining a gym to get in shape. Are these reasons to see a physical therapist? Yes!

Each of these scenarios has the potential for injury. Physical therapists are experts in injury prevention and are trained to spot small problems before they become big problems—and often before you know that there’s a problem at all. Physical therapists evaluate, screen and assess patients using a variety of tools to detect mobility limitations and muscle imbalances that, if left untreated, may leave you prone to serious injuries down the road.

When caught early, injuries—or the very beginning signs of an injury—are easier to treat and the recovery period is shorter, less expensive and less of a burden on everyday life. Knowing what to look out for—and when to see a healthcare professional—is often not as obvious as it sounds. Some signs and symptoms aren’t recognized as indicators of an injury while others may be brushed off as nothing serious. Here are a few things to look out for:

• Joint pain
• Tenderness
• Swelling
• Reduced range of motion
• Weakness
• Numbness or tingling
• Balance issues

If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist to rule out a potential problem or to nip one in the bud before it becomes more serious. Based on background, training and experience, PTs understand how a patient’s risk for specific types of injuries can increase based on participation in certain sports and recreational activities as well as identify physical strains due to on-the-job and household demands.

An individualized exercise program designed to strengthen your muscles, improve flexibility and optimize your physical ability can help correct and prevent issues that could turn into injuries in the future. For example, a teenage field hockey player can learn exercises to perform regularly to lower her risk of tearing her ACL. Your PT can design an injury prevention exercise program to suit your specific needs and ensure your healthy participation in sports, recreational activities and everyday life.

Dizziness and Vertigo

Written by: Jennifer Buono, PT, DPT

Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms that adults report to their physician. With a wide range of possible causes including, cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, psychological, pharmacological, as  well as, vestibular disorders, it can be hard for individuals to get a correct diagnosis. Often they will consult with 4 or 5 different physicians before determining the exact cause.

To assist providers in diagnosing the cause it is beneficial for individuals to further define their dizziness symptoms.

According to the Vestibular Disorder Association (VEDA):
● Dizziness: a sensation of lightheadedness, faintness or unsteadiness that does not
contain a rotational component.
● Vertigo: sensation of spinning of either the self or the surrounding environment.
● Disequilibrium: a feeling of being off balance or unsteady and can often be
accompanied by disorientation.
● Spacial disorientation: a sensation of not knowing where one’s body is in space.

More than ⅓ of adults over the age of 40 in the US have experienced some sort of vestibular dysfunction. One disorder in particular called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV is the cause of about 50% of dizziness/vertigo symptoms in older people. BPPV is characterized by frequent episodes of vertigo that typically last less than 60 seconds and are associated with changes in head and body positions. For example, quick head movements can trigger vertigo symptoms, as well as bending forward, looking up toward the ceiling, moving from lying to sitting and rolling to one side in bed.

BPPV occurs when calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia), which are normally in the utricle portion of the inner ear, become dislodged and move into the semicircular canals. This movement interferes with the fluid movement in the canals which sense head motion. The change in fluid movement causes the inner ear to send false signals to the brain and the result is a spinning sensation or vertigo. The cause of
BPPV sometimes is unclear, but it can be due to an infection that affects the inner ear, head injury or it can also be due to degeneration of the hair cells that occurs during the natural aging process.

The good news is that BPPV is not life threatening and is typically easily treated. Physical therapists with specialized training can help treat BPPV with the use of positioning maneuvers, known as canalith repositioning. The most common maneuver is known as the Epley maneuver. The therapist takes the individual through a series of head and body movements to move the crystals out of the semicircular canals.

Studies have shown that in about 90% of cases, resolution of the symptoms can be attained in 1-3 treatments. Sometimes even after the BPPV has been resolved, individuals can also experience a sense of imbalance or disequilibrium for which the physical therapist can provide specific exercises that work to retrain the brain to process the information received by the vestibular system, known as vestibular rehabilitation.

If you are experiencing symptoms of dizziness, vertigo or disequilibrium don’t wait! Come and see one of the physical therapists here at Advanced Physical Therapy and fitness for evaluation and let us help you find the best treatment option, so that you can stop spinning and get back to your normal routine.

Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA) www.vestibular.org Parnes LS, et al. Diagnosis and management of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). CMAJ.2003  169(7):681-693.

Physical Therapy First?

Since October is National Physical Therapy Month, we would like to dispel a persistent myth about physical therapy.  That myth is that you always need to see a physician first to get referred to a physical therapist.

Current Pennsylvania law allows consumers to access certain physical therapists without a physician referral for up to 30 calendar days of care.  The catch here is knowing which physical therapists are legally allowed to practice under these “direct access” laws.  Here at Advanced Physical Therapy and Fitness all of the physical therapists have direct access licenses and are therefore legally allowed to examine, evaluate and treat patients for up to 30 calendar days without a physician’s referral.  Physical Therapist who possess this license have special training and continuing education to help them recognize “red flags” or signs or symptoms that may be indicative of a more serious condition or a non-musculoskeletal condition while examining and treating you. Unfortunately, patients’ that have Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans must have a referral because that is a federal law.  A few insurances also require a physician referral for treatment from a physical therapist to be paid so you may want to verify with your insurer prior to making your appointment to see a physical therapist.

So, next time you hurt your back, have a stiff neck that doesn’t get better, sprain a knee or ankle being a weekend warrior, or hurt your shoulder painting that ceiling, consider seeing your physical therapist first.  Check out this YouTube video and see how physical therapy can help you manage pain:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWpnMsAjX5k&feature=youtu.be

Get started on the healing track sooner and avoid complications.  Stay active, stay healthy and choose physical therapy first!



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  Disclaimer:  The information in this medical library is intended for informational and educational purposes only and in no way should be taken to be the provision or practice of physical therapy, medical, or professional healthcare advice or services. The information should not be considered complete or exhaustive and should not be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes without first consulting with your physical therapist, physician or other healthcare provider. The owners of this website accept no responsibility for the misuse of information contained within this website.