Category Archives: Neck Pain

The Sitting Solution

By Carla Cranbury, PT

Let’s face it, we sit a lot. Between working, commuting, and watching television, the Canada Health Measures Survey found that most Canadian adults spend 9 hours and 48 minutes of their waking time being sedentary. Most of us know that physical activity is good for us, but did you know that just sitting less (regardless of exercise) can also be beneficial in the long term?

A study published in 2009 followed more than 17 000 Canadians for 12 years. Over the twelve years they compared the participants’ daily sitting time and leisure time physical activity with mortality rates of various causes. What they found was that the amount of daily sitting time was positively associated with mortality rates from all causes, except cancer. Basically the more people sit, the higher the risk of mortality. This even includes people who are physically active, showing that high amounts of sitting time cannot be compensated for with exercise, even if it exceeds the current minimum physical activity recommendations.

Other studies have echoed similar findings. A seven year study reported that people who spend less than half their time sitting have a lower risk of mortality than those who spend more than half their day sitting. Another six year study reported that women who spend 16+ hours sitting per day have an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease compared with women who sit for less than 4 hours a day.

These studies are not to say that physical activity is not important – it still is, and it is still beneficial for your health. Physical activity also contributes to decreased time spent sitting.  What these studies are saying is the physiology associated with excessive sitting is different than the physiological benefits of exercise, and therefore excessive sitting cannot be compensated for with periods of exercise.

So now that you know, what can you do?

If you work at a desk most of the day, sitting can be hard to avoid. Some options are:

  • Ask your work if they can accommodate an ergonomically sound standing desk
  • Take frequent breaks from sitting to walk around
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break
  • Walk to your co-workers desk to talk to them instead of sending an email
  • Park at the back of the parking lot to get a few extra steps
  • Take the stairs!
  • Take frequent standing breaks throughout the day
  • Discover new ways to be active during your leisure time – ditch the TV and get outside

It’s the small changes to your daily routine that can add up and make a big difference. The best time to start is today!

BodyTech Physiotherapy

References

Katzmarzyk, Peter T. et al. “Sitting Time And Mortality From All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, And Cancer”. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 41.5 (2009): 998-1005. Web.

“Directly Measured Physical Activity Of Adults, 2012 And 2013”. Statcan.gc.ca. N.p., 2017. Web.

Manson, J.E., P. Greenland, and A.Z. LaCroix. “Walking Compared With Vigorous Exercise For The Prevention Of Cardiovascular Events In Women”. ACC Current Journal Review 12.1 (2003): 29. Web.

Weller, Iris and Paul Corey. “The Impact Of Excluding Non-Leisure Energy Expenditure On The Relation Between Physical Activity And Mortality In Women”. Epidemiology 9.6 (1998): 632-635. Web.

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Physiotherapy for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) is a broad term that encompasses various disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If you experience jaw pain with chewing, jaw clicking/popping, facial pain, or frequent headaches, you might have a TMD. Physiotherapists can diagnose and treat TMD.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Anatomy and Function

The TMJ is composed of two articulating bones: the temporal bone (part of the skull) and the condyle of the mandible (jaw bone). There is an articular disc located between the two bones. The disc is firm but flexible, and its purpose is to reduce friction and cushion the repetitive force between the two bones during chewing, talking, and any other joint movement.

During jaw opening, the condyle of the mandible and the articular disc normally slide forward in unison. The muscles surrounding the joint are responsible for moving the mandible and the disc in sync. If the condyle and the disc are out of sync with each other, this is called disc displacement and is characterized by pain and clicking sounds when opening the mouth.

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Symptoms

Symptoms of TMD can include the following:

  • Jaw pain when opening the mouth wide or chewing
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Limited range of motion, or unable to fully open the mouth
  • Painful clicking or popping when opening or closing the mouth
  • Tooth wear and tear from grinding or clenching the jaw
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears

Causes of TMD

Often, there is no single cause of TMD. There is usually a combination of factors which predispose a person to TMD.

Poor posture of the neck, head, and shoulders contributes to muscular tension and strain. Poor posture may cause muscle imbalance and changes in muscle length in the neck and shoulders. These muscles pull on the jaw and can alter the resting position of the mandible in the joint, resulting in increased stress on the TMJ and disc. After prolonged time, the joints in the neck and back may become stiff and cause associated symptoms such as neck pain, limited range of motion, and headaches.

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In addition, jaw clenching or teeth grinding may contribute to the development of TMD. When the jaw is clenched, the muscles are under increased tension and may pull the disc out of position. It normally happens while the person is asleep, so they are unaware they are doing it. Clenching or grinding can also result from being under stress (e.g., at home or at work) for a prolonged period of time.

Finally, trauma or injury to the TMJ (such as a broken jaw) may predispose a person to TMD.

Treatment for TMD

Physiotherapists assess and treat TMD using non-surgical and drug-free techniques. The physiotherapists at BodyTech Physiotherapy will evaluate your condition to determine the underlying factors contributing to your pain. They will prescribe an individualized exercise and stretching program based on your unique needs. Our physiotherapists are also trained to correct biomechanical changes of the TMJ and neck using manual therapy.

Other options for treatment include:

  • Relaxation procedures
  • Acupuncture
  • Dietary modification to relieve jaw pain during chewing
  • Dental orthotics or mouthguards worn at night. These help to prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Medications to relax the muscles of the jaw
  • Surgery, in rare cases

Temporomandibular joint disorder is a complex and multifaceted condition. With all the factors that can contribute to TMD it is important to visit a physiotherapist for a detailed assessment to ensure treatment is individualized to your specific issues.  If you experience jaw pain and headaches, consider seeking help from a physiotherapist.

BodyTech PhysiotherapyBodyTech Physiotherapy 519-954-6000

Massage Therapy for Injury Prevention

image1When muscles become tight and sore, seeking out the help of a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) is always a smart idea. But, why wait until things get bad before working with a RMT? Massage therapy is not only effective in relieving existing pain and discomfort, but it is also an important step in preventing symptoms from occurring in the first place.  Using massage therapy to help you address issues such as muscle imbalances, posture, repetitive strain injuries and stress can prevent future injuries and pain from affecting your daily life.

Massage therapy can be used to help maintain good posture by addressing shortened, tight or sore muscles. Good postural muscle balance is important because an imbalance in the muscles surrounding a joint can cause discomfort and thus lead to injury. Posture is affected by the way you hold your body when sitting, standing, or moving. Improper posture over time leads to changes in muscle length. Possible consequences of poor posture include neck, shoulder, and back pain, or headaches and jaw pain from increased stress on muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Muscles will become shortened and tight from being in a slouched position, and the muscles on the other side of the joints will become lengthened and weak from constantly being stretched. When this kind of muscular dysfunction occurs, joints and ligaments are not receiving the support they need from the surrounding muscles. Without this stability, the joints and ligaments become more vulnerable to injury. The resulting muscle imbalance limits range of motion, changing the way the body moves, which will affect work or sport performance. Regular massage therapy can be used to restore neutral posture and decrease muscle tension.

Repetitive strain injuries occur when the same motions are being repeated frequently. Common sites for repetitive strain injuries are in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and low back. These types of injuries can be avoided by ensuring there is good muscle balance in the areas of the body that are being most frequently used. This will ensure the joints, ligaments, and tendons are being properly protected from injury.

Stress is one of the most common causes of tight and painful muscles seen by massage therapists. When your body is stressed, the natural reaction for your muscles is to tense up. This is the body’s defense mechanism against injury or pain. Stress can be physiological (ie. from chronic painful conditions), or emotional. Prolonged periods of stress and muscle tightness can cause abnormal muscle tension, as well as mental/emotional symptoms such as irregular sleep patterns, anxiety, and mood disorders. Receiving regular massage therapy has been proven to help relax muscles and restore normal muscle tension, as well as improve sleep quality, mood, and relieve anxiety.

Seeking preventative care from your Registered Massage Therapist is vital to maintaining normal range of motion, correcting posture, and reducing stress. Working with your massage therapist on a consistent basis throughout the year will ensure problem areas are identified before they become painful, and therefore prevent further injuries.

BodyTech Physiotherapy

BodyTech Physiotherapy 519-954-6000

 

The Importance of Posture

Posture types

Person A shows good posture, with a straight line going through the ear, tip of the shoulder, slightly behind the hip joint, slightly in front of the knee joint and slightly in front of the lateral malleolus (ankle) in the foot. The rest of the postures shown are incorrect, with different points of the body deviating either too far forward or too far behind the line that would indicate correct posture.

Posture is not typically on our minds until it starts to cause discomfort or injury. Today’s lifestyle regularly involves sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time, which is often sustained at the expense of proper posture. Posture refers to the position of our bodies, which is created by the different joint angles and the muscles that control those joints. Correct posture requires minimum muscular activity to maintain, which in turn minimizes stress placed on the joints. The opposite occurs with incorrect posture; muscles fatigue in attempt to maintain the altered position and joints are placed under increased stress.

There are a variety of factors that can cause or contribute to faulty posture. Correct posture may be difficult to maintain if joints are too stiff or too mobile, muscles are weak, too shortened or lengthened, or imbalanced. Over time incorrect posture will cause joint stiffness, thus causing the muscles to work harder and may result in pain. At this point, self-correction becomes difficult as it is harder to correct through joint stiffness. Joint stiffness will also result in some muscles becoming weak and others overused due to a change in the starting position of the stiff joint. Early identification of these contributing factors could prevent an injury from occurring, or from becoming a chronic problem that is more difficult to treat.

Possible consequences of poor posture include neck, shoulder, and back pain, or headaches and jaw pain from increased stress on muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Muscles will become shortened and tight from being in a slouched position, and the muscles on the other side of the joints will become lengthened and weak from constantly being stretched. The resulting muscle imbalance limits range of motion, changing the way the body moves, which will affect work or sport performance.

A detailed posture assessment by a physiotherapist can identify the contributing factors to poor posture, and is a smart idea for anyone wishing to be proactive and prevent future injury. Once these contributing factors are identified there a number of treatment options that will target the causes of the poor posture, prevent further injury, and help to decrease pain. A strengthening program will be designed to target weak muscles, and stretching will loosen tight muscles. This treatment combination works to correct these muscle imbalances, making correct posture easier to maintain while decreasing pain. Strengthening has the additional benefit of stabilizing loose joints, and joint mobilizations can correct stiff joints. Joint mobilization is a specific hands-on technique to improve joint movement, and can help to relieve pain and restore function. A combination of exercise, manual therapy and education will improve your course of recovery and assist with further injury prevention. Education about how to maintain correct posture in daily activities will allow you to remain pain free and prevent further injury.