What is a Physical Therapist? What is Pain?
My job is to know how the body moves normally and how the body changes with age, injury, disease and dysfunction and return it to its most ideal state. My primary job is to return people to their previous activity level. It is the most rewarding profession, in that I am able to spend time and interact with people from all walks of life.
I learn just as much from my patients as they do from me and there is no better feeling than watching progress throughout therapy. Of course it’s not always easy and it involves work, but mostly for my clients, in the form of exercise. Through watching someone walk (gait analysis), run, squat, lunge and balance I can observe where there are strengths, weaknesses and deficits in movement patterns.
PAIN AND INJURY
Pain changes quality of life. Pain creates movement dysfunctions and compensations to avoid it. Weakness can lead to pain and can put the body at risk for injury. Some injuries are unavoidable; however some injuries are a result of overuse. Overuse injuries are a result of an area of the body being stressed at levels beyond which it can repair itself.
Over half of overuse injuries are preventable. Initial management of an injury can make a big difference in how fast you are able to return to your previous activity level. A physical therapist can help evaluate the severity and stage of your injury and whether or not you require a referral to another medical professional.
GOOD AND BAD “PAIN”
Some pains may be unavoidable, but most are not. Many people assume that they will have a certain level of discomfort or pain and tolerate it. “No pain, no gain” is an old school motto that creates a lot of injuries. There are good aches and pains such as muscle soreness after a workout and there are bad pains, warning your body of overdoing it.
Part of my job is teaching patients how to listen to their body and know the type of pains that are acceptable and the difference between bad pain and good. Although pain may occur in a specific joint, most often it is other areas of the body not doing their job (imbalance) that causes chronic pain.
If an old knee injury continues to bother you, it may be more related to weakness in the hips and poor foot mechanics then the actual knee itself. Pain in the Achilles, foot or knee can also be related to an old ankle sprain that was never fully rehabilitated. Low back pain may be a result of a weak and tight leg muscles especially the hips and hamstrings, that don’t allow your back to maintain good position nor support it. Do yourself a favor and give physical therapy a try.
Call (425) 225-5865 to schedule an appointment. You might find new strength in areas you never knew were weak.
Please visit our U-District Physical Therapy affiliate for articles regarding balance, aging and exercise, injury rehabilitation, and more!
Range of Motion- Why is it so important?
If you’ve been to a physical therapist you’ve heard it before, “We need to improve your range of motion.” It may seem basic but often overlooked in the clinic. Each joint in the body has a “normal” range of motion, usually measured with a device called a goniometry. As we age or have an injury, we lose range of motion in our joints. As we lose that range of motion the body begins to compensate and find alternative ways to move the body. The body finds “the path of least resistance.” This is when we start to develop pain, muscular tension, tendinitis and arthritis. The good news is that with proper exercise and manual therapy, physical therapy can restore joint range of motion and with muscular retraining, restore normal movement patterns.
In a 2011 study in the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, authors followed 780 patients who underwent ACL reconstruction. At the five-year follow-up, 71% of individuals with full flexion and extension range of motion showed normal x-rays. However, only 55% of patients that did not regain full range of motion showed normal x-rays. The authors concluded that it is imperative to regain and maintain normal range of motion in order to stay healthy and avoid osteoarthritis.
Reach out to us at PNW Physical Therapy if you are having joint pain because odds are there is an imbalance due to abnormal range of motion. As movement scientists it is our specialty to find those and get you back to doing what you love, pain free.