Patient education

PT Better Than Surgery for Shoulder Impingement and Subacromial Pain

New guidelines for management of shoulder impingement are strongly in favor of physical therapy and away from surgery! These recent guidelines were posted in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) and you can read more here. This is exciting news supporting conservative treatment that physical therapy provides versus more invasive techniques such as surgery.

As the research was examined, the findings revealed: decompression surgery resulted in no significant differences from other approaches—including PLACEBO surgery! The lack of difference was long-term, remaining at 6-month, 2-year, and 5-year follow ups.

Shoulder impingement occurs when structure that pass through your shoulder get pinched between the humerus and acromion that compose part of your shoulder joint. This can lead to irritation, pain, and wear and tear to structures such as the bursa (bursitis), supraspinatus (rotator cuff strain, tears, tendonitis, and tendinopathy), biceps (long head of biceps strain, tears, tendonitis, and tendinopathy).

The following helpful schematic visuals presents the findings for how to management shoulder pain from rotator cuff disease/dysfunction (RCD) and subacrominal pain syndrome (SAPS).

PT better than SAD.jpg

The fact that physical therapy is the ideal way to treat these pain syndromes is not surprising given that the shoulder joint is a complex joint comprising of 4 separate joints and myriad muscles that must coordinate well. Tightness, weakness, poor endurance, control, or posture at any of these points including at the shoulder blade (scapula) can lead to narrowing at the subacromial space and thus impingement. Reversing these problems can then increase the space and reduce the strain, pain, and irritation.

Bottom line?

Having shoulder pain? Come to PT before a surgeon! Please note that these findings are for overuse and non-traumatic shoulder injuries present for more than 3 months.

Thanks for following along as we journey to: Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, get moving.

Liz

Daily Dose of PT (#dailydoseofpt)

Yep, I made a hashtag #dailydoseofpt. Why? Because everyday for 2019 I’ve committed to myself, for my own personal health to do at least one physical therapy exercise. I’m not going to limit myself to one, but I will do at least one.

After some thought, I thought": “why not bring others along?” 365 exercises is a lot and sharing them is a lot, so the daily dose of PT will be shared just on one platform. For ease of use, I’ve chosen Instagram and the live story. It’s not that you won’t find any excerpts or references anywhere else - blog, Facebook, Youtube, Google+, or newsletter, but the journey will be unfolding and evolving on Instagram live and then kept up on the story for 24 hours.

Daily dose of PT - climbing gym edition

Daily dose of PT - climbing gym edition

My hope is that my quest for personal health and well-being will be educational and motivational for you and those that stumble across it. At the time of the writing of this blogpost, I am 9 days into the challenge, with 356 to go. There are lots of opportunities to participate. To not miss out, make sure you follow @artisanpt on Instagram and even allow notifications for live posts from me.

The focus to-date of the #dailydoseofpt has been primarily shoulder, neck, shoulder blades (scapula), and postural stability. Over the course of the year, the whole body will get covered, as needed by my own personal PT intervention needs. If there are regions or parts of the body, that you would like me to focus on, let me know and I’ll do my best to incorporate them sooner rather than later.

Thanks for joining on this journey to optimize health and wellness.

Together, let’s get moving!

Liz

Finding the Perfect Pillow

Neck pain is a real problem for many people. Unfortunately for many people, their pillow is a main contributing factor. Also unfortunate is the fact that pillows are confusing. In desperation, many people will pay ridiculous amounts for a “perfect” pillow that promises to miraculously reduce their neck pain, improve sleep, and allow them to move their neck better throughout the day. All you need to do is spend $80-$200. However, many of the designs behind these pillows are flawed.

What should you look for in a pillow? You want a pillow that helps to keep your neck in neutral position. What is neutral position? Neutral position is a position that reduces the stress on your joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Each joint has this ideal position. For your neck this means that when you lie on your pillow you shouldn't feel like your head is dropping down, or rotating, or getting forced up.

Find Neutral Position

This woman pictured has too much pillow & is straining her neck as she sleeps. The midline of your head should be straight with the midline of your torso to reduce stress on your body and prevent neck pain or arm numbness/pins & needles.

I suggest getting an inexpensive, soft, yet supportive pillow. Soft, yet supportive, is tricky. You want soft, but sufficiently full so that it gives support. Get a pillow too fully packed and it's no longer soft and adaptable to your head and your body position. Get a pillow that's too flat and it will not be appropriate for lying on your side. To get your neck and corresponding joints into their neutral position, you need the pillow to be just right, so do not be surprised if it takes time to find the right pillow for the size and weight of your head and the proportion of your body. For example, when lying on your side, you need the pillow to be the right size to take up the space between your head and the bed, created by your shoulder and torso. Too big relative to your body and your head will get pushed up, compressing the top side of your neck and pulling the lower side. Too small and your head will dip down, similarly causing strain to your neck but in the opposite pattern of too big a pillow.

I have a little trick for how to take any garden variety pillow from your favorite inexpensive store and make a winner, comfortable, soft, yet supportive pillow and look forward to sharing that with you in a future post and possibly even in video format. In the meantime, please save your money and don't buy that expensive pillow promising to save the world, starting with curing your neck pain and insomnia.

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear them.

Liz

Awesome, Effective Advanced Shoulder Stability Exercise

Looking for an excellent, if not awesome, way to strengthen your shoulder.? We've got an exercise for you including a video demo! Here is one of Liz's favorite exercises that she is incorporating into her March daily fitness challenge - which is alternating between the hip and shoulder stability and strength.

The shoulder joint is a "ball and socket" joint. It has a lot of freedom to move in a variety of directions, which is means it needs stability and strength in multiple directions. This exercise is a constant isometric force into external rotation pushing out with the wrists which strengthens and challenges two of the rotator cuff muscles, in particular, the teres minor and the infraspinatus. As you push constantly out through the band you will simultaneously raise your arms overhead which works additional shoulder muscles including shoulder blade (scapular) muscles responsible for upwardly rotating it. These muscles include the serratus anterior and the lower trapezius, which when weak can lead to shoulder impingement, bursitis, and rotator cuff tears and injury. 

This is not an exercise to perform when your shoulder is very weak. For that you want to exercises that place less demand on your shoulder. If you missed it, a video we created for that is this:

Mixing things up with "easy" and "hard" exercises is good for a healthy shoulder. I've been doing exercises from each of these videos as I seek to have an even stronger and healthier shoulder than I already have.

Have you started a daily fitness challenge? If so, what are you trying?

Not started yet, but thinking about it? What are you considering? Even the considering, is a step forward and progress! The planning stages count for fitness and health.

Stay tuned for next month's daily fitness challenge which will be headstands and handstands! April is almost here. Would you like to join me? At this time, May is scheduled to be ankle and foot stability, so reach out with any questions or suggestions for that if that provokes some interest from you. This is particularly meaningful for those of you with "weak" ankles, foot and ankle pain, history of ankle sprains or foot/ankle fractures (broken bones). 

Let's Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving

Liz

8 Minute Abs

Last month I did a daily physical challenge of running every day - with the goal of being healthy. Success! This month the physical challenge is "8 min abs". I've spent everyday of November (one day to go) targeting abdominal strength, endurance and control for 8 minutes. Now this isn't about aesthetic or beach body abs. Being able to do crunches and sit-ups are important but have been over-emphasized in the fitness industry for years. Having healthy appearing abdominal muscles - a 6 pack - doesn't mean you are in fact healthy. More specifically, it doesn't mean you are preventing injury. Abdominal strength and stability in combination with low back and hip strength and control make up what we physical therapists call "lumbopelvic stability" or "lumbopelvic control." This is something we emphasize in helping and rehabilitating persons with low back pain, sciatica, SI joint (sacro-iliac joint) pain, lumbar radiculopathy, herniated discs, DJD (degenerative disc disease), arthritis in the joints of the back, and stenosis. The back is connected to the pelvis, which is connected to the hips/thigh/femur. I often sing  to my patients and clients about the wisdom of the children's song: "the back bone's connected to the hip bone. the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone" (They love it, as you can imagine).

So me spending on this focused time on this region wasn't just sit-ups and crunches. In fact, it was much more perform leg and arm motions without letting my back move. I spent 8 minutes each day this month emphasizing a variety of challenges to lumbopelvic stability to promote and preserve a healthy back. I brainstormed a list of exercises and invited a friend to join me with this month's challenge. My list is long and varied. I challenged my abdominal muscles - all of them (rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, and very importantly the transverse abdominus). I rotated through 48 different exercises these 30 days! There's no reason to get bored. And as we strongly recommend here at Artisan PT - variety is good and very healthy for us. 

Want an example of how to train the transverse abdominus? The transverse abdominus is the most important abdominal muscle to prevent back injury and recover from a back injury or back pain. Learn more in our video on a starter transverse abdominus exercise. PS - Side effects of this exercise include flatter stomachs! PPS - I won't be posting pre- and post- 8 min ab challenge photos, but will be enjoying the results.

 

Watch should the next challenge be? December is right around the corner!

Let's Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving!

Liz

3 Simple Strengthening Exercises to Prevent Climbing Shoulder Injuries

Today we have a guest post from a friend and fellow colleague on preventing shoulder climbing injuries. Dr. Jared Vagy - The Climbing Doctor - out of Los Angeles, California works with high level climbers and teaches at USC. The following is an excerpt from his blog post

"It is the end of the day. You are tired and beat, but you decide to give it one last go on your project. You get to the crux move and give it everything you’ve got. Suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your shoulder. You know that you likely injured your shoulder. What happened and what could you have done to prevent this?

The tendons in the shoulder slide through a very narrow passageway and attach to the shoulder bone. Impingement occurs when the space between the bones in this passageway is reduced. This can occur from repetitively moving the shoulder into a stressful or suboptimal position. When this occurs, the bones in the shoulder pinch down on the tendons and cause shoulder impingement. You should be aware of the dangerous movements that can lead to shoulder impingement. These movements include hanging on your arms during rest stances, climbing with a hunched posture and strenuous overhead reaching."

Bent over T's, Y's, and L's:

Dirtbag tip - use items you have around: cans, bottles to provide the weight.

Dirtbag tip - use items you have around: cans, bottles to provide the weight.

These should not cause any shoulder pain! 

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 12.53.07 PM.png

Climb INJURY-FREE

Dr. Vagy just released another book! 

You can find it on Amazon now.

Thanks, Dr. Vagy for the helpful content.

Any questions? Comment below. 

Why Does My Foot Hurt in the Morning?

"Why does my arch hurt?" 

"I get a sharp pain in my heel every morning I get out of bed.

"When I've been on my feet too long, the bottom of my foot hurts so bad."

Do you say these things? You may have plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a ligament that helps support the arch of your foot and gets stretched when you put weight on it and every step you take.

"Itis" is Latin for inflammation, so plantar fasciitis is a diagnosis of inflammation of the plantar fascia. Inflammation takes place when you have an injury and the body is trying to heal. Research is showing that most cases of plantar fasciitis is not an "itis" but is instead an "-osis" which reflects degeneration. This is why rolling on a frozen bottle might not make your symptoms go away.

At Artisan Physical Therapy, your PT will try to figure out a few distinct things in your evaluation - what tissue is injured or irritated and then the why it is injured/irritated/painful. Often both need to be treated the sore tissue needs to be calmed down and then that factors that led to the injury need to be changed and/or alleviated otherwise it will be perpetually irritated.

Common factors that lead to plantar fasciitis or fasciosis include:

  • Insufficient arch support - going barefoot, wearing flip flops, or shoes without arch support or very flexible soles
  • Tight ankles and calve muscles
  • Weak hip (gluteal muscles)
  • Excessive body weight
  • Increasing activity too quickly (deciding to train for a marathon or get in shape drastically from prior level of activity)
  • Weak foot muscles or inappropriate muscle use/activation

Just because you have arch or heel pain, it doesn't mean you have plantar fasciitis. It could be a tendinitis or tendinopathy of a foot or ankle muscle or an issue in the joints of your foot. A quality physical therapy exam will clarify this for you.  As mentioned above knowing which tissue is irritated allows for specific, targeted treatment to get rid of your pain and get you back to pain free walking, running and whatever else you love and need to do.

Think you might have plantar fasciitis? Take the first step towards health and get a PT evaluation to get quality manual therapy to temporarily decrease the pain in your foot and learn exercises to keep it away by learning how to reduce the stress to the plantar fascia and learn what activities to avoid a do instead to allow it to begin healing today.

Let's Get to the Source - and TOGETHER - Let's Get Moving!

Preventing Rock Climbing Hand & Tendon Injuries: Part 2 - Techniques For Open Grip Strengthening

People are often injured by trying to progress too quickly and this is very prevalent in rock climbing. People fall hard for the sport and enjoy the challenge of pushing their limits, but lack the knowledge needed to stay healthy, prevent injury, and thus climb for a lifetime and not have to take months and month off due to tendon or pulley injuries in their hands or forearms.

In this video you'll learn the how-to principles of hand strengthening to cross train to improve open grip strength and reduce hand pulley and tendon injuries for rock climbers. Climb better, climb harder, climb longer. Climb for a lifetime.

For a personalized assessment, contact us at our Portland office.

If you have injured this area, make sure to give sufficient rest and see your local PT who specializes in manual therapy & treating climbers to learn how to get back to your prior level and incorporate this open hand strengthening to improve your grip and reduce compensatory strategies that overload your pulleys. Also find out how shoulder weakness, for example, can influence which grip you choose. 

This is Part 2 of a 2 Part series, with the possibility of a Part 3 adapted to interest, questions, and feedback from the first 2 Parts. Watch Part 1 to learn why hand strengthening matters to prevent injury and the important of incorporating into your climbing routine. Questions? Should we do a Part 3?

Let's Get to the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving!

Preventing Rock Climbing Hand & Tendon Injuries: Part 1 - Why Hand Strengthening is Important

Are you a long-time rock climber who wants to climb for a lifetime? A beginner climber who wants to train right and train smart to prevent injury? Are you currently side-lined due to a tendon or pulley injury in your hand and want to know how to rehabilitate it?

In this video, Liz explains why injuries commonly occur in the hand and tendons/pulleys of the hand, how your technique may be contributing to this, and why strengthening your hand, not just your forearm is important for preventing this and rehabilitating injuries here.
This is Part 1 of a 2 Part series, with the possibility of a Part 3 adapted to interest, questions, and feedback from the first 2 Parts. Watch Part 2 to learn specific techniques, strategies, and exercises to incorporate into your climbing routine.

The weather is warming up and it's time to climb!

We can take it to the next level and help you with focused and personalized examinations in our downtown Portland location or with mobile therapy throughout the Portland, Oregon area. 

 

Quick Yoga Sequence for Runners: Stretching with Some Core

New video out!

In this video, Doctor Elizabeth (Liz) Bottrell PT, DPT, FAAOMPT of Artisan Physical Therapy in Los Angeles, CA demonstrates a quick and effective yoga sequence for runners. Whether running your first 5k, training for a marathon, triathlon, or an ultra, you need to stretch. Stretching takes time and knowledge. In this video, you'll learn a quick vinyasana or flow yoga sequence that efficiently stretches your hamstrings, calves (gastrocnemius & soles), and hip flexors (Iliotibial band and iliopsoas) to maximize your time, as well as incorporating abdominal strengthening and control and cross training strengthening for the pectoral muscles and triceps. This fast routine, also trains balance, breathing, and improves motion in your back and abdominal muscles!

You can repeat and hold longer as needed. Do not hold your breath!

Pay attention in the video because you need to make sure you know which muscles to stretch. Follow-up videos will show specifics for a few other essential muscle groups for runners to stretch.

Try it and let us know what you think.

Is What You Are Eating Keeping You Hurting?

What you eat has a big influence in how you feel. Not too many people will disagree with this statement, however many are not aware the extent that this is true.

Your diet could be perpetuating your back pain, our contributing to your achy knees, or be prolonging that car accident our recent injury pain.

What do we know?

AVOID eating refined carbohydrates, french fries and other fried foods, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage), and margarine/lard.

 

EAT MORE tomatoes; olive oil; green leafy vegetables - spinach, kale, and collards; nuts like almonds and walnuts; fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines; fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

Eating this way helps reduce diseases associated with inflammation: e.g. heart disease and cancer. You can read more about this at http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.

But eating this way will also contribute time reduce your musculoskeletal and orthopedic pain. (Read -  less pain in your muscles, discs, joints, fascia, and ligaments). Sounds great, right?

If you're not seeing the consistent pain reduction you want from changes in posture, strength, stiffness, and flexibility, consider taking that next step to reduce what my be stagnant inflammation in your body and change your diet to tips towards anti-inflammatory in addition to all the good work your doing with exercise, position, rest, icing, etc.

Every little step towards healthier living counts!

6 Effective Tips to Less Back Pain with Sitting

Do you have difficulty completing work due to back pain with sitting?

Does your low back pain limit your social life with things like sitting at a restaurant, driving, and sitting through a movie.

Low back pain with sitting is common with disc and muscle injury.

To get yourself feeling better, try these 6 simple tips:

  1. Use the back rest on your chair
    • Sitting up is hard! 
    • Give those muscles a rest by allowing your back to use the support of the backrest.
    • Don't sit at the front of your chair
    • Keep your chair close to what you are working on, so you can stay all the way back in the chair.
  2. Use an extra and portable back support
    • Chairs are often not designed ergonomically for ideal posture.
    • Chairs are not one size fits all! Our bodies differ wildly in shapes and sizes from one person to the next.
    • You should maintain the same amount of curve in your back while sitting that you have while standing.
    • To assist with this, I recommend some thing like the Wonder Roll, which you can find online at www.wonderroll.com. It changes support quickly and easily while being portable, yet can stays in place on your chair with a simple strap.
  3. Take frequent breaks
    • Let your body heal and get stronger, by planning and not sitting longer  that your back can tolerate. 
    • If it starts every 30 min, get up every 25 minute, etc.
  4. Make sure your hips are flexible
    • Remember the song you sang about the human body? "The back bone's connected to the hip bone, the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone..." (You get the point).
    • Stretch the back side of your hips both the muscle and joint, so your back isn't being strained.
  5. Increase the strength and endurance of your low back muscles
    • If your back muscles are tired, they will do one of two things.
      1. They will start to complain and be your source of pain.
      2. They will stop working and let you go into poor posture thus putting bad stress onto the passive structures in your back: discs, ligaments, and joints.
  6. Watch your posture
    • If you saw your posture from an outside perspective, you might be horrified!
    • Set regular reminders in your calendar and alarms on computer and phone to remind you even when caught up in tasks and projects requiring your full mental attention.
    • Give permission to those around you to remind you when you are sitting with poor posture, so you spend less time there and thus strain your disc, ligaments, and muscles less.

Thanks for reading. If we get enough interest, we will make some videos about how to sit with less back pain. Leave a comment about how it works for you and what tips you use.

Let's Get To the Source, and TOGETHER, Let's Get Moving!

 

 

A Simple & Effective Exercise to Minimize Headaches

A new video from Liz went live earlier this week! Do you have headaches or know someone with headaches who would like to reduce their frequency or intensity and even eliminate them entirely?

In this video Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Bottrell, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, manual physical therapist and movement specialist, demonstrates a simple but effective exercise to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.

Many people have cervicogenic headaches - headaches arising from tight muscles and joints in the neck or poor posture - but think they are migraines or other types of headaches. This basic, easy exercise will stretch your neck muscles and reduce referred pain to your head. It is also effective for neck pain after a car accident or whiplash.

Try this exercise, 3 sets of 10, without pain or just to the point of pain.

If you have more questions about what other exercises to do for your condition or would like hands-on, manual therapy to improve joint range of motion, reduce pain, improve circulation, enhance muscle flexibility, and increase ease of movement and maintaining good posture, contact Artisan Physical Therapy to schedule an appointment for your physical therapy evaluation and treatment session.

Let's get to the source, and TOGETHER, let's get moving!