Fortius Blog

What will happen in my first physical therapy appointment?

Never been to physical therapy before? Don’t worry! We get new patients at Fortius Physical Therapy each week. They all go through the same basic process – and they all appreciate our hands on care. Before you come to your first visit with us, here are some important things to know.

1. Medical History Review
Even if you’re referred from a doctor and we have your medical records, we’ll still want to review your medical history with you during your first visit. This will give us a chance to go over details with you and confirm what your doctors have written. If there have been any changes in your condition since your last appointment with your doctor, you can tell them about us at your first visit. We’ll take your heart rate and monitor your respiration.

2. Physical Examination
Since physical therapy deals with the way your body moves, we’ll do a physical examination. We’ll take a look at your flexibility, strength and balance in the office. This can include having you walk, run and stretch in certain ways. It will help us pinpoint where you’re experiencing pain and where your movement is being inhibited. We might ask you to get up from a prone position, and vice versa in order to get a sense of your functional abilities. We’ll also look at your body mechanics and see how your body performs through a series of activities.

3. Setting Goals for Treatment
The medical history review and physical examination will help us determine the best course of action for your treatment program. We’ll work with you to determine how your course of care will proceed. In some cases, we may get started right away with your treatment program or we may start at your next appointment.

The first goal of most physical therapy programs is to reduce pain and swelling that you may be experiencing. Pain is what brings most people to physical therapy, so it’s the first thing that most people look for when they start treatment. Once the pain and swelling has been reduced, we can start working on other aspects of your treatment program, like increasing flexibility and improving your ability to complete day to day functions.

During the treatment sessions, we’ll pay close attention to how your body is responding and then adjust as need be. For example, if there is resistance to a specific movement, we’ll step back and make an adjustment. The constant adjustments to your treatment minimize the risk of injury and make physical therapy very effective.

4. Ongoing At Home Treatment
Your first visit will be the start of an ongoing course of treatment. At your first session, we’ll let you know what to expect in the way of your results, including your time frame for recovery. However, your treatment will also rely on your efforts at home. In most cases, you’ll need to do a series of exercises at home to help your recovery along. During your first session, we’ll instruct you in the office and make sure to correct your form so you get the best results.

In short, your first physical therapy session will be part evaluative, part hands on and part instructional. Call us today to get on the road to recovery!

Putting the Heat on Frozen Shoulder with Physical Therapy

Frozen shoulder, if left untreated, can be a very serious condition. The standard treatments for frozen shoulder can often leave a lot to be desired. While many doctors and even physical therapists may suggest injections or ultrasound, the truth is that hands on physical therapy is the best route for treating frozen shoulder once and for all.

Frozen shoulder is a condition that effects virtually all shoulder movement, especially over the head movement. The shoulder can become stiff and scarred which limits movement and increases pain. It often happens without any associated injury or clear cause. There can be a traumatic injury in some cases, but normally this isn’t the case. Certain risk factors can lead to frozen shoulder, however.

It happens more often to women than men, and can severely limit a person’s quality of life. Frozen shoulder normally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. People with diabetes can be at higher risk, as can those who have thyroid problems. Other shoulder trauma or injury can make frozen shoulder more likely in the future.

Symptoms can include:

  • A dull, aching and persistent pain.
  • Limited movement.
  • Difficulty with activities like putting on shirts and brushing hair.
  • Inability to sleep due to shoulder pain.

Daily activities can be hard to manage with a frozen shoulder, and many activities can be completely reduced. Although frozen shoulder will naturally resolve itself in time, it can be nearly three years in some cases. That’s three years of pain, limited mobility and aching muscles!

If you’re experiencing tightness in the shoulder area and suspect you have frozen shoulder, your first stop will probably be your doctor’s office. A doctor can help you determine whether or not you actually have frozen shoulder. Some may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs or injections to help with the pain.

While these remedies can help reduce pain, they can be toxic when used long term. Other common remedies are hot packs and ultrasound therapy. These can increase pain relief but don’t help with recovery time.
The most effective method for treating frozen shoulder is physical therapy. I use a process to guide your muscles through a series of movements. The movements are designed to help build strength in your four rotator cuff muscles. Strong rotator cuff muscles will help your shoulder recover faster. The treatment will also helo loosen the adhesions of the cuff capsule, which causes the disorder.

A strong rotator cuff is going to be more eager to heal – which leads to faster recovery time for you. If you rely only on anti inflammatories and ultrasound, your muscles aren’t going to build strength and recovery may take a lot longer.

At Fortius Physical Therapy, we’ll move you through rotational exercises for your rotator cuff. We’ll also stretch out your muscles progressively in order to speed up your recovery time. Our frozen shoulder treatments will have you feeling better after just a few sessions.

Give us a call today if you suspect frozen shoulder – we’ll get you on the path to recovery.

Back Pain: What kind do I have?

It’s estimated that up to 90% of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives. If you’re one of them, you know how difficult it can be to go about your normal life with back pain. Back pain can strike at any time. It’s a symptom of one of several different problems and not a specific disease. However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be treated. Through physical therapy you can find the relief you’re looking for and reduce the likelihood that you’ll have back pain in the future.

Common Causes of Back Pain

There are many different causes for back pain. Considering the fact that your back is a complex network of muscles, tendons and ligaments, it’s no surprise that this are of the body is subject to strains and pain. Your back also includes intervertebral disks which act like shock absorbers between your 30 vertebrae as you run, jump and walk. Your lower back does the brunt of the work so it’s typically where people experience the most pain.

Strains and Sprains

Injuries to your muscles are called strains and injuries to your ligaments are called sprains. There are a number of reasons why your back may become sprained or strained. You can injure your muscles or ligaments by using an improper lifting technique. If you use your back muscles rather than your legs to lift something heavy, you risk a strain or sprain. You can also develop one if you sleep at an awkward angle at night or carry a heavy shoulder bag for a long period of time.

Osteoarthritis

Back pain can also be caused by osteoarthritis in the spine. Over time, the disks that are between the vertebrae become flattened and less effective. Since there isn’t as much cushioning, the joints between the vertebrae become tightly pressed against one another. Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness and back pain, and can also lead to bone spurs.

Osteoporosis

This is another age related condition that can cause back pain. Your bones can become porous and brittle as you age due to declining calcium levels. The condition, called osteoporosis, is not often associated with back pain but it can cause problems. Brittle bones can be subject to compression fractures which lead to back pain. Simple things like doing daily lifting can create painful compression fractures that can get worse over time.

Herniated Disk

The disks in your spine are subject to rupturing due to wear and tear. The rupture is called herniation, but many people refer to this condition as a “slipped” disk. The herniated disk will pinch against one of the nerves in your spinal cord and pain results. One of the most common nerves affected is the sciatic nerve that runs the length of your lower back, buttocks and leg.

No matter where your pain is originating from, physical therapy can help. Let Fortius Physical Therapy help you find the source of your back pain. Together we’ll develop a treatment program that will help relieve your pain and get you on the road to recovery.

Can Physical Therapy Help My Foot Pain?

Experiencing foot pain? It’s no surprise. Your feet are two of the hardest working parts of your body. Each day they act as shock absorbers and cushion up to one million pounds of pressure as you walk around. In addition, they support one and a half times your bodyweight while you are walking and running. When you consider how much you put your feet through, it’s no wonder that they’ll need some care from time to time.

Do you suffer from Foot Pain?

Physical therapy can help ease foot pain and eliminate a majority of problems that people experience with their feet (with a proper treatment plan). If you’re experiencing a lot pain in your toes, ankles and feet, you deserve to feel better. A physical therapist can treat any of the following common foot problems:

Achilles tendinitis
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body. When it’s strained and stretched, the tendon can become sore. Achilles tendonitis can be treated by applying ice and using specific exercises designed to limit the movement of the tendon, which will help it heal.
Metatarsalgia
This condition develops in the ball of the foot, the part you put pressure on when you run. If you spend a lot of time running or jumping you are at risk for injuring the muscles and ligaments between your metatarsals (the bones in your foot). The area becomes swollen and it becomes painful to take a step on the ball of your foot. A physical therapist will apply ice and pressure bandages in order to relieve pain. He or she will then guide you through a series of exercises to restore the strength and function of the muscles.
Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia is the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It can get easily irritated if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Plantar Fasciitis is normally more common in the morning and it presents itself as pain across the bottom of your foot. We’ll help you complete a series of different exercises to stretch out the calf and the foot. During your visit, we’ll instruct you in the office and you’ll complete the exercises on your own in between visits.
Turf Toe
This common sprain occurs when your big toe bends back past its range of motion. Small tears in the ligaments can result in pain when you’re walking or running. People are more at risk of turf toe when they wear lightweight, flexible shoes while participating in sports. Compression and elevation can help with turf toe, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs. We can treat higher grade sprains with a short leg cast or a walking boot.

These conditions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the foot problems that physical therapists can treat. Athletic injuries, strains and sprains can all be helped with physical therapy treatment. Other conditions can include:

  • Arthritis
  • Capsulitis
  • Plantarfasciitis
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures

If you’re experiencing any type of pain in your foot, Fortius Physical Therapy can definitely help! Contact us to schedule an appointment for your foot pain.

You deserve to feel better!