Sunday, February 16, 2020

Do I Have A Pulled Muscle or Something Else?

Unless you’re gifted with extraordinary medical abilities, you probably can’t immediately tell the difference between a pulled muscles or something else. Hey, let’s face it, most people aren’t doctors. Not everyone can instinctively tell where their pains are coming from. And, if you’re reading this post, my guess is that you might be one the ones who struggle a little. The good news is, though, it’s absolutely normal not to know the cause of your pain; both people who suffer from sudden, fleeting pain, as well as those who experience ongoing, chronic pain, are often dumbfounded as to its cause. More often than not, though, people jump to the conclusion that they’ve pulled muscles. The effects of this type of ill-informed opinion can be life-changing, and that is why we’re about to expose the hidden answers behind what it means to have a pulled muscles, and whether or not something completely different might be going on.

What are pulled muscles, actually?

This is a good question, and it is the best place to start on your journey to discovering the true source of your pain. Remember, if you have an informed understanding of your ailment, you’ll be able to heal the source and permanently eradicated the pain. With that in mind, here is some information about what pulled muscles actually are and whether or not you have one of them, or, something completely different:

1.      Pulled muscles are muscles which are forcibly stretched and pulled beyond their capabilities. In other words, a pulled muscle is the result of a forceful movement exerted on that muscle. Take an elastic band as an example: as the band is stretched beyond its elastic means, it will eventually knot up or snap. This is exactly what happens to a muscle under the same conditions; a pulled muscle is the painful result of forced overextension.

2.      Alright, so how do you damage your muscles in this way? The most common activities leading up to pulled muscles include overuse, improper form during workouts, a failure to warm up and down before and after exercise, and skipping over stretching routines. Muscles need to be primed for exercise, and if this crucial step is neglected, they tend to be less flexible and more prone to damage and pain.

3.      That’s all good and well, but how can you then tell if you pulled a muscle or if you’ve done something else? Well, the biggest distinction between a pulled muscle and a different source of pain is the fact that your flexibility is limited after you hurt yourself. Essentially, this means you struggle to bend, stretch, or generally move the muscle. The muscle is tight and sore. In addition, you may experience swelling in the pulled area. You’ll most likely also experience stiffness and weakness in the muscle following the damage and, eventually, (if you don’t receive treatment for the correct diagnosis) you’ll become ‘knotted up’ in the area around the muscle as a greater amount of muscular tissue succumbs to stiffness and overuse.

Here’s the problem, though: you may be experiencing all this and yet you’re still unsure whether you have a pulled muscle, or something else like, for example, a structural issue or pinched nerve.

Luckily, there is a way to tell. Pinched nerves, in particular, effect different areas of the body and produce different sensations. Take a look:

What is a pinched nerve?

1.      Unlike a pulled muscle, a pinched nerve occurs when the body tissue around a nerve applies too much pressure to it. In other words, a pinched nerve has nothing to do with stretching or pulling: it is, in fact, the restriction of the nerve by its surrounding tissues and muscles. Let’s use another metaphor: a garden hose. Running through the garden hose is water vital for the plants in the garden. In the same way, your nerves carry vital information about the condition of your body to your brain. Let’s take it a step further: when the garden hose bends or is pinched, the water runs out and the plants suffer. Similarly, when the tissues around a nerve impede its ability to function correctly, the body is effected and you feel pain.

2.      Now, you may be thinking, ‘sure, but how is this pain different from a pulled muscle?’ First of all, the origin of the pain is different: discomfort from a pulled nerve is traced back to the nerves themselves, all of which are found inside the cartilage, tendons, bones, and muscles of the body. It is not the muscle which is sore, it is the actual nerve. Furthermore, the symptoms of a pulled nerve are different from pulled muscles, in that one may experience tingling, numbness, sudden bouts of weakness, burning sensations, and an increase of discomfort when trying to sleep.

Both pulled muscles and pinched nerves are painful; they both decrease mobility and increase suffering, yet it is absolutely vital to understand that these two problems are treated very differently. The biggest mistake most people make is that they muddle the two, thereby exacerbating the pain and prolonging the healing process.

The thing is, if your discomfort goes untreated – or is treated incorrectly – you risk prolonged bed rest, extended periods off of work, a decrease in activity and mobility, weight gain, muscle weakness, and daily, extreme discomfort.  None of these sound particularly appealing and, if you’re reading this, it’s most likely that you’ve already experienced one or more of these results. It’s time to take action.

So, if you’re unsure why you are experiencing pain, you feel as though you’re not getting any better, or you’re at the end of your tether when it comes to finding the right kind of help, then we invite you to give us a call, right now. Physical therapy offers you the chance to find and heal the true cause of your pain, thereby allowing you to access the pain-free life you deserve. Why not try it today? Click the button below to speak to a specialist, right now. We look forward to hearing from you.

Am I Injured? The Confusing Truth About Pain

Am I Injured? The Confusing Truth About Pain.

Most of us like to think we know ourselves fairly well – we know we’re happy when the sun is shining, when we drink a good cup of coffee, or when we spend time with our loved ones. On the other hand, we also know when we’re sad: we may have lost our favorite sneakers, hit a pothole, or experienced emotional trauma. All of that seems, in many ways, quite clear to us. But when it comes to physical injuries things can get a bit confusing. How do we know of we have neck pain, shoulder, or back pain? How do we know if our knees, hips, or lower backs are giving us problems? How can we differentiate between different types of pain? It often seems as if it’s harder to self-diagnose physical pain than it is to pinpoint heartache or joy. And yet, knowing why you’re in pain is actually the most invaluable knowledge there is for treating the root cause of the problem and, therefore, eradicating the pain itself. In this post, then, we’re talking about how injuries can be confusing, how we can tell if we’re really injured – and where we’re injured – and how we can clear it all up once and for all! Let’s jump straight in.

As we said, getting to the bottom of your pain is key in relieving it – treating your elbow, for example, may do no good if it is actually your wrist giving you the trouble. And just to make things even more confusing, your pain might not even point to an injury in the first place! That’s right! Oftentimes, we may experience pain that is fleeting and that disappears on its own. Therefore, understanding the difference between a once-off pain and a chronic, debilitating type of pain is absolutely crucial. Why? Well, if you don’t attention to the pain and it actually points to an injury, then you might end up exacerbating the pain, and damage, even more. Ultimately, we need to find out if the reason for pain is a fleeting injury or not. After this, it’s time to treat it appropriately. Let’s start with the first point: knowing the difference between injury and temporary pain.

When it comes to pain, listening to your body is the first port of call. Your body is a sophisticated organism – its ability to signal injury in the form or discomfort and pain cannot be underestimated. Sensation is like your body’s language, and pain, therefore, is like a warning which signals a problem. If we listen carefully enough, our bodies will inform us of our ailments. So, when it comes to knowing if we’re injured or not, we have to listen. Look out for any signs of injury: swelling, discoloration, temperature spikes – trouble walking, placing pressure on the area, or sensitivity to touch are all indicators that something is wrong. A tip for you: if you suspect that you’ve been injured, apply heat/ice immediately. More often than not, inflammation accompanies pain – heat and ice are able to alleviate the discomfort and swelling.  Be sure to be smart, though: if you feel pain for long durations of time, something is definitely wrong. Don’t make the mistake of believing your pain will disappear on its own; listen to your body and make a decision to get the right kind of help.

Once you’ve listened to your body and have understood that you’re injured, it’s time to figure out exactly what type of injury you’ve sustained. Establishing if you’ve pulled, strained, or torn a muscle can, at times, be as difficult as solving a Rubix cube… it can be incredibly challenging. One way to get to the bottom of it all is to analyze the types of activities you’ve done – Crossfit can give rise to different injuries than Yoga may, for example. This is, however, an inexact science, as injuries vary wildly at times. It is one way of trying to pin-point your injury, though. At the end of the day, however, it’s always best to see a professional physical therapist in order to establish the exact cause and forthcoming treatment needed.

Visiting a professional, hands-on physical therapist is by far the safest, fastest, and most effective way of both diagnosing and treating the root cause of your pain. Not only will a physical therapist relieve the discomfort, but will give you the tools to maintain a pain-free life. Tailor-made exercises will accompany treatment that will hone in on your specific injury – all this means that the confusion you’ve experienced is eliminated and that you’re able to get back to the activities you love.

At the end of the day, understanding injuries and pain can be tricky. It may seem impossible to identify either the cause of the pain or its location, but one thing is certain: it cannot be ignored. Listen to your body and make a decision to get the help you need. Take action. Analyze your activities, stop doing those that you think may be detrimental, and get professional help.

If you’re unsure of why you’re in pain, where you’re in pain, or if even if you’ve injured yourself during an activity you love, then we invite you to contact us today. We’re here to help you, and one of our dedicated, professional physical therapists are here to answer any and all questions you might have. Don’t live with the uncertainty of confusing pain any longer – get the answers you need and let us help you get back to the life you deserve: one that is pain-free and mobile. We look forward to chatting and helping you on your path back to health and mobility.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Concussion: The Invisible Injury

Concussion: The Invisible Injury

If you’re reading this and wondering why in the world ‘concussion’ has anything to do with physical therapy, exercise, or health, then we’re glad you’re here. The truth is, this invisible injury could wreak havoc on your wellness and, in some heartbreaking cases, could result in painful, debilitating symptoms…for years! It is not something to take lightly, so we’re here to fill you in on all the particulars of concussion, its signs, and all the actions you can take when it comes to this hidden condition.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term itself, the word ‘concussion’ stems directly from the Latin ‘concussionem’, which means to shake violently. This is a scary thought considering the condition itself affects your brain! Yes, that’s right, we suffer a concussion when our brain has literally been ‘shaken violently’. Yikes.

We know how strange that sounds, so we’re going to make it a little clearer. Your brain has the consistency of Jello, and in many ways it reacts to its surroundings in much the same fashion as our favorite desert might. When the head is knocked violently and suddenly, the brain is left to uncontrollably bounce against the walls of the skull; thus, as you may imagine, this causes serious damage, mostly in the form of bruising. Sadly, unlike Jello our brains aren’t really equipped to withstand that type of convulsive pressure, and, as a result of the trauma, we often suffer from the downright awful symptoms related to concussion.

I bet you’re thinking you’ve never experienced this type of horror-movie scenario: your brain bouncing around like a ping-pong ball. We know it isn’t pleasant, but the reality is you might actually have gone through it! If you’ve been involved in a vehicle accident, played athletic sports like soccer, hockey, rugby, baseball, and basketball, or even if you’re a keen cyclist, well… the chances are pretty good that you’ve had mild, if not severe, concussion. Falls, knocks, tackles, and rogue hockey sticks all pose a threat; we’re betting that you, like millions of others, have been at the receiving end of at least one of these.

Now that you know what might cause concussion, it’s time to move on to its nasty symptoms. Concussion is a bit like a very clever conman: you know something is amiss, but you just can’t pin-point the culprit. In fact, so many of concussion’s symptoms are easily confused with other causes: from a hard night’s drinking, to a bad night’s sleep… one might not even know one is suffering from this invisible affliction. Luckily, we’re here to help. Take a look at some of the most telling signs of concussion:

·         Headaches
·         Dizziness
·         Problems Related to Both Short and Long Term Memory
·         Decreased Concentration
·         Disrupted Balance
·         Vomiting
·         Loss of Consciousness
·         Ringing in the Ears
·         Noise and Light Sensitivity

While all this might sound like the unwanted after-effects of your year-end tailgating party, they’re all very serious indeed. Because concussion doesn’t produce any external signs of its existence, it’s usually tricky to diagnose. But, here’s the thing: if left untreated, concussion can lead to some really devastating developments.  Leaving concussion unattended to may eventually result in the following:

Long-Term Memory Problems: Yes, this is as scary as it sounds. Memory-loss is a common side-effect of untreated concussion.

Altered Personality: No, this isn’t a science-fiction blog entry; untreated concussion may actually alter the behavior of an individual. He/she will be more irritable, temperamental, and short-tempered in the long-term.

Depression: If you know of anyone suffering from depression, you understand how severe this mental affliction can be. Untreated concussion causes deep distress and may, in fact, lead to serious depression.

Disturbed Sleep: Because concussion affects the brain, if left untreated it resultantly affects the brain’s ability to heal itself via sleep. Hello insomnia.

Sensory Confusion: Do you love eating delicious food? What about smelling your just-bloomed roses? Well, when it comes to untreated concussion, smell and taste are affected equally: both deteriorate as a result.

Like I said… none of the above are things you want to go through or experience. Concussion is a scary affliction, to say the least. So, how do you know if you’ve suffered/ are suffering from it? That question is, unfortunately, a little tricky. It’s easier to guess that you have mild/severe concussion if you’ve ricocheted off of a wall, taken a rolling dive off of your bike, or gotten whacked in the head with a hockey stick, but barring rather obvious trauma to the skull, it’s near-impossible to know whether or not you are suffering from concussion. And yet, know you must.

This is all a little frightening; we understand that. That’s why we’re pleased to tell you that we can help. If you’re worried about whether you might be suffering from either the short or long term effects of concussion, don’t worry, we can get to the bottom of it. By visiting a professional, qualified, hands-on physical therapist you will not only get the answers you desperately need, but you will receive safe, effective treatment for the symptoms of concussion.  And if you aren’t ready to commit to a session, why not just call us for a chat? One of our dedicated physical therapists is always willing to discuss how we can help you regain peace of mind and a pain-free life.

For advice and treatment that will improve your quality of life, give you back the serenity you crave, and help you live the best, most empowering life you can, just pick up the phone and give us a ring. We look forward to helping, and we can’t wait to shine a light on the invisible injury stealing your happiness!

New Year's Resolution, Getting In Shape While Avoiding Overuse Training Syndrome

New Year’s Resolution, Getting In Shape while Avoiding Overuse Training Syndrome 

For Many Americans, getting in better shape is the first thing that comes to mind when choosing a New Year’s Resolution. With the beginning of a new year comes the drive to want to do something different and better than the previous year. New changes, new outlooks, and new workout routines are on the top of the ‘to-do’ list for the coming year. From starting CrossFit, to increasing your workout goals, getting in shape is outstanding for your physical and mental health, but as with everything, there is such thing as ‘too much’. 

As we get into our new routines with fresh motivation, we push ourselves harder – we run faster, swim further, and lift more. Yet while our new workouts may seem outwardly healthy, we may actually be doing ourselves harm in the long run. Why? Well, for some of us the exercise routines we have been inspired to take on have turned from ‘healthy’ to ‘unbalanced’. In other words, as we’ve pushed ourselves on the court, in the pool, or on the bike, we’ve lost track of our personal limits - we’ve fallen prey to what is generally called Overuse Training Syndrome. Now, if the name intimidates you, don’t fear. In this post, we discuss the causes and effects of OTS and we give you advice on how to get back in the right gear. 

Overuse Training Syndrome (OTS) is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: it occurs when the body is pushed too far during exercise and/or training – over and above its limits – thereby causing it to lose its ability to recover in a sustainable and safe way. For obvious reasons, this wreaks havoc on both your health and your training routine, not to mention to your mental endurance. Unfortunately, the most common reaction to OTS is an even greater commitment to training harder, faster, and more often. The results? Well – take a look: 

Firstly, OTS makes you tired – not in the traditional ‘good workout sense’, but fatigued in a way that throws your training and muscle wellness off balance. This type of exhaustion is often confused with a sense of demotivation or laziness, thus leading many people to push-through and push harder. Sadly, this approach does a lot more harm than good, as it delays recovery for longer periods thus placing even more stress on overall health, stamina, fitness, and the body. 

Secondly, OTS feels a little like the flu: a dull aching in your muscles and joints, lightheadedness during exercise, slight nausea, and overall grumpiness follows its onset. In general, OTS leads to the lessening of enjoyment during exercise, as your goals aren’t met and your motivation declines. OTS is thus mentally and physically debilitating. 

Yet apart from fatigue and an overall dampening to your exercise routine, OTS – and its resultant drive to push harder and faster – may actually lead to a number of serious and harmful consequences. Exercising too much, and pushing certain areas of your body to the brink and beyond, often leads to disturbances which may cause short and longterm damage. Examples of these types of injuries include tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and patellofemoral pain. Indeed, if the names don’t scare you away, then the pain associated with these conditions will. 

Perhaps more common when it comes to OTS are symptoms you may in fact already be experiencing. These include insomnia, elevated heart rate, appetite loss, decreasing muscle mass, dwindling performance, and muscle soreness. None of these symptoms are particularly enjoyable, and while you may think that exercise more may actually alleviate them, the truth is, increased activity will only worsen them exponentially. 

So, what can you do? You love training, your routine is magnificent, and you’ve finally mastered the art of waking up early enough to get the right amount of activity in before work. How could you possibly change anything at this point? Well, the truth is, it’s time to start being very honest with yourself. Exercise is wonderful for you, but too much of it may actually be putting you at a disadvantage. The key is – as with so much in life – balance. It’s very important to balance the duration, type, and pace of your routines, making sure that no one part of your body is constantly under fire. 

Additionally, though it may be difficult to accept at first, rest is just as important as exercise. It is absolutely crucial that you give your body time off to recover and rest, thus allowing your muscles to repair themselves, your joints to heal, and your endurance to be prolonged. Working out is as much about the ability to listen to your body as it is to push it to be its best. Adding a rest day or two to your week will actually be a lot more beneficial to your workout than skipping them. And, as an extra bonus, you can sleep a bit later on those days! 

In all seriousness, though, balancing exercise and rest is the most effective way of staving off the risks associated with Overuse Training Syndrome. Knowing how to do this is, however, tricky for many of us. That’s why we invite you to speak to one of our dedicated, professional physical therapists today. Whether you’re suffering from symptoms related to OTS, or just want dedicated, trusted advice and help, we’re here for you. With hands-on physical therapy, we offer not only the safest, most effective way of overcoming OTS related pain and injury, but we give you the best possible chance of avoiding these issues in the future. By providing sound advice, tailor-made exercises, and hands-on, quality, treatment, we will elevate your training program in a way that is safe, effective, and free from the stresses associated with overuse and exercise. 

Why not give us a call today? If you’re interested in learning more, just want to chat, or are currently in pain, we urge you to click here to get in touch and request a call. We’re here to help and we cannot wait to hear from you. Don’t fall prey to too much exercise, thereby risking not only your fitness and routine, but your overall health, too. It’s time to make the most of your exercise routine, today.