Tag Archives: back pain

Management of Osteoarthritis

What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the protective cartilage that provides cushion and support at the ends of bones gradually wears down. This is a degenerative disease that can worsen over time, often resulting in chronic pain affecting your day-to-day activities. Eventually if the cartilage wears down completely, the bones in the joint will rub directly on each other exacerbating the symptoms.

Common Symptoms of OA

  1. Pain and Tenderness
  2. Joint Stiffness
  3. Muscle Weakness and Loss of Flexibility
  4. Grating Sensation
  5. Bone Spurs- not a symptom but a sign
  6. Swelling

Most Common Risk Factors

  1. Old Age
    • Articular surfaces on the end of bones can wear down over time due to the natural aging process that occurs to muscles, joints, and bones.
  2. Obesity
    • Excess weight puts more stress on the joints (commonly occurs to weight bearing joints such as the hip and knee).
  3. Repeated Stress on the Joint
    • Over time this will cause the articular surfaces to wear down.
  4. Joint Injuries
    • A break or tear can lead to the development of OA over time.
  5. Genetics and Certain Metabolic Diseases
    • People with a family history of OA are at a greater risk.

Treatment for OA

An effective approach is seeking physiotherapy treatment at earlier stages, accompanied with an exercise program specific to you. You may feel some discomfort during exercising, but this feeling is normal and should calm down. If it is unbearable then do not continue with the exercise. Of course with any exercise, there are always risks associated, therefore consult your doctor prior to beginning any new exercise program.

                Exercise has many benefits for ALL people including improved health, fitness, and mood. Many people believe that exercising with OA could harm your joints and cause more pain, but research shows that people can and should exercise when they have OA. It is considered the most effective, non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in those with OA.

Recommended Types of Exercise

So now we know that exercise can ease symptoms of arthritis, but what is best for you? Well that varies from person to person so here are a few main categories of exercises to include in your program:

  1. Flexibility

                This category includes exercises that will help to improve or maintain the range of motion of the affected joint(s). By relieving stiffness in the joint and increasing the ability for the joint to move through its full range, you will decrease the risk of further damage, improve the function of the limb and joint, and decrease overall pain. There are two main categories of stretching to consider:

  • Dynamic Stretching: these are movement-based stretches that involve multiple joints. They should be performed prior to activity to prepare the body.
  • Static Stretching: these are stretches that take the muscle to its end range before holding that position for a minimum of 30 seconds. These stretches should be performed after activity when the muscle is already warmed up.

2. Strengthening

                These exercises work to build stronger muscles to help support and protect the joints. This allows for offloading of the affected joint which has the potential to relieve many symptoms. It is recommended to engage in strengthening exercises 2-3 days/week. Examples of strengthening exercises include lifting a limb against gravity, using free weights or elastic bands, or weight machines requiring you to push or pull against resistance.

3. Aerobic / Endurance

                These exercises help with overall fitness and improve your cardiovascular health. They typically involve the use of large muscle groups in the body in a repetitive and rhythmic manner. Canada’s guidelines for adults are to achieve 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This intensity typically involves you to breathe a little harder and sweat but not be out of breath. Activities falling under this category include walking, biking, dancing, or even everyday activities such as mowing the lawn or shoveling as long as you are achieving a moderate- to vigorous-intensity.

4. Balance

                This is a fourth, less recognized category that is very important to consider in your exercise plan. These exercises will target smaller groups of muscles to decrease your risk of falling and can help improve your ability to do other exercises. Balance exercises include anything with a smaller or unstable base of support such as performing activities on a foam pad or single legged exercises.

Summary

                Arthritis doesn’t have to keep you from living your life and participating in your everyday activities. Exercise and arthritis should coexist! Research has shown that people with osteoarthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep and a better day-to-day function. Work with your Physiotherapist to create an exercise program that is right for you and kick start your road to a healthier life!

BodyTech Physiotherapy

Snow Shoveling Safety

Snow.jpegIf you are like us, you have probably spent a good chunk of time clearing off your car, driveway, and sidewalks these past few weeks. If you are not used to this kind of strenuous activity, you also might have felt tired and sore once you were finished. At BodyTech Physiotherapy we have already seen an influx of people with low back pain due to shoveling snow. As a result of this, we have compiled a list of safety tips to keep you moving injury-free until spring rolls around.

  1. Consider hiring snow removal services if you have lower back issues or heart problems, including a previous heart attack, a known cardiac disease, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol.
    • Snow shoveling can be as strenuous on your body as lifting weights – a sudden increase in physical activity levels, especially without proper form, can predispose you to injury.
    • Studies have shown that exercise using your arms (like shoveling) significantly increases blood pressure levels compared to leg exercise (like walking), putting you at a higher risk of a heart attack.
  2. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUse the proper tools
    • Sturdy, non-slip winter boots and salting are essential to prevent slips and falls.
    • An ergonomic shovel can help reduce excessive amounts of forward bending, which could otherwise put a lot of strain on your lower back.
  3. Use proper form
    • Stand with your legs hip width apart
    • Hold the shovel close to your body
    • Space your hands apart to increase leverage
    • Bend from your knees, not your back
    • Engage your core/tighten your stomach while lifting
    • Avoid twisting while lifting
    • Walk to dump your snow instead of throwing it
    • Pushing is easier than lifting
  4. Warm up
    • Cold, stiff muscles are more prone to injury. Get your body warmed up and ready to go by marching on the spot, doing some small squats, and rotating your upper body from side to side.
  5. Shovel early and often
    • Freshly fallen snow is lighter and fluffier than snow that has been sitting for a few hours, which makes moving it much less stressful on your body.
  6. Slow and steady wins the race
    • Though it may be tempting to power through and get your shoveling done as fast as possible, work at a slow and steady rate while focusing on proper form to decrease your risk of injury.
    • If there is a large amount of snow, work in layers of 2-3 inches instead of trying to lift it all at once.
  7. Take breaks and hydrate!
    • We recommend shoveling for 15 minutes followed by a 15 minute break
    • Remember to drink water or other non-alcoholic beverages during your break – shoveling is hard work!

BodyTech Physiotherapy

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.

Why is massage therapy a good idea for everyone?

Many people think of a spa like setting when they think of massage therapy, however, a Registered Massage Therapist can work in many different locations including a physiotherapy clinic.

Massage therapy can be useful in combination with physiotherapy or as a sole treatment option depending on the issue. Even when there are no specific problems, massage therapy is a great option for the prevention of injuries, particularly for those individuals with sedentary jobs.

Massage therapy in combination with physiotherapy is an excellent option for many people. Often an injury involves more than one type of tissue, such as muscle, joint, tendon and/or ligament, and would benefit from a variety of treatments. Massage therapy can help facilitate physiotherapy treatments by addressing other components such as shortened, tight or sore muscles. This allows the physiotherapist to focus on function and mobility, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises.

As an exclusive treatment option massage therapy can help with many conditions either chronic or acute to relax and alleviate sore muscles. In addition, massage can help prevent injuries. For individuals that spend their day at sedentary work stations these positions and postures can predispose you to many aches and pains. Massage therapy can help maintain good postural health and muscle balance.

BodyTech Physiotherapy