Where to Find Quality Health Care Information Online

A violet stethoscope on a white laptop computerWith the growth of the Internet, we have at our fingertips an enormous, and almost inconceivable, amount of knowledge. There is no question that the Internet cannot answer! However, this does not mean that every answer it give us is true. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do take what’s posted on the web as fact and make decisions base on the wrong or misguided information. Even the most reputable sources can get it wrong. So when searching the internet for answers, especially when it come to your health, remember that it is “User Beware!” However, there are more reputable sources that if and when you do seek health information, I’d rather have you looking at then a random article or a post on answers.com, for example. Here are some of the recommended sources for the most accurate and up-to-date health care information.

  • WebMD.com – A great resource for health related information and tools. They have expert medical practitioners on their staff that review all the published content and take extra measure to make sure they are providing credible information.
  • MedlinePlus.com – Through its extensive research database, Medline provides the most up-to-date information on most health care topics with easy to use navigation tools, videos, illustrations, and dictionary of medical terms.
  • MayoClinic.org – Is a website that produces content provided by more than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers with ties to the world renown Mayo Clinic.
  • Synergympt.com – Okay, so we had to put our website on this list! After all we provide a great resources through our website, newsletters, and blogs on orthopedic injuries, women’s health issues, health tips, and more. Check it out, we think you will be impressed!

As physical therapists we often have patients that will self-diagnosis or even self-treat due to health care information that they found online, even from these reputable sources. At times the patients have been correct and have performed the right stretches or exercises, but there are even more cases of patients who have either delayed their healing or made things worse by becoming their own doctor or physical therapist.  Just because you researched shoulder pain from one of these websites and came up with a diagnosis that fits your symptoms does not mean the diagnosis you think you have is the actual diagnosis. For example, if you have a torn shoulder muscle but through your research think you have tendonitis, which can present very similar to a tear, you could be doing the wrong treatments and making things worse. So use this information with a grain of salt and please do not disregard the value of a physical exam and diagnosis by a licensed medical professional.  If you do suffer from an injury your best bet is to stop by and see one of our physical therapists today. At our clinics you will get a personalized examination and diagnosis that will most often lead you to a quicker recovery. Call to schedule an appointment today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

 

Training Through Pain

You’re in great physical shape, you’ve been spending the last couple months ramping up your training for the next big race….. and then it happens. It can start off as a small twinge of pain in your knee or as a soreness in your hips which you blow it off and keep running. Then a month goes by and it’s a little more nagging, and your frustration is growing. Now you are even closer to the race and become worried that it will affect your time. What do you do, keep training or stop?

Jogging injuryIf you have been competing for any length of time you have likely heard this scenario from fellow competitors or even have gone through this in the past yourself. So what do you do now? An injury whether big or small can not only cause physical stress but also mental stress as it may cause you to stop or slow your training for that next race or event that you have worked so hard towards. But if you push through an injury you may be doing yourself more long-term harm than good as pushing through an injury will often lead your mechanics to change and cause a breakdown of other structures. Deep down you know you should see a doctor or physical therapist to help you, but like many you may be in denial that it is a problem, you don’t want to be told to stop training, and you have high hopes that you can just “run it off.” But in reality you are just putting off the problem and likely growing it into a bigger problem in the long run.

In some scenarios it may be a simple fix like running on a different surface or the other side of the road temporarily, changing your footwear, or improving your flexibility or strength in your hips. Runner’s World posted an article in 2011 titled “The Big 7 Body Breakdowns” that reviewed the top 7 running injuries and how you should approach them. As this article points out in most cases where the pain stops you during a run or the pain is progressively getting worse, you need to seek the advice and treatment of a physical therapist before it turns into something serious.

It is better to get it taken care of as a small injury and possible only having to decrease your training a couple weeks early on than pushing through it and it potentially ruining your racing season. At Synergy Manual Physical Therapy in Colorado Springs, we focus not only on your pain but also on finding out what is the movement or mechanical fault is that began the breakdown in the first place. Call or stop in today to set up an appointment and create a new, pain-free, beginning to your training. We look forward to meeting you!

– Synergy Physical Therapy Team

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Specialization in Youth Sports: A Dangerous Game.

As an Athletic Trainer that has spent the better part of his career in the professional sports arena I am often times asked by well meaning parents what they can do to help their kid prevent injuries and get better at their chosen sport. They often times are taken by surprise when my answer is to give them the necessary rest and recovery period their bodies need to heal and develop their general athleticism by having them compete in sports or activities that are unrelated to their primary sport.  I am going to speak more directly about baseball because that is where most of my experience has been, but the principles can be applied to any sport you like such as swimming, soccer, volleyball, etc.

Due to many factors, just one of which is the continuing increase in the cost of higher education (I read once that college tuition costs are increasing at about 7% per year), many parents feel that to give their child a shot at a higher education they have to make sure that heir kid gets a full ride athletic scholarship. This leads them feel that they need to specialize and professionalize the child into a single sport at a very early age and focus all of their attention, year round, on that one sport. This has lead to a large increase in the occurrence of overuse and adult type injuries that require surgical intervention to repair, which the young athlete may never recover from. Dr. James Andrews, one of the premier orthopedic surgeons in professional sports and in particular Major League Baseball, stated in an article that half of injuries in youth sports stem from overuse and 30-40% of the Ulnar Collateral ligament reconstruction procedures ( the famous Tommy John procedure) he performs are on high school age kids even down to age 12.  Dr. Andrews recommends that kids take at least 2 months (3-4 months is preferable for overhead sport athletes) away from their primary sport to avoid these types of overuse injuries.

Another pressure that parents unfortunately run into is from the money vultures that have seen this trend of parents willing to do anything to make sure their kid succeeds, and they are more than willing to capitalize on this at the expense of both the well meaning parents and the kids. They get them with the promise of professional type instruction and maybe contacts to get them in front of college coaches and professional scouts. But they demand big dollars and full year round dedication to their program and their pocketbooks. Because of programs like this I often see kids who are competing on multiple teams during the same season.  The problem with this is that all of these teams are training like they are the only team the kid is participating in. A kid might pitch 6 innings for his high school team on Friday and 3 innings for his club team on Saturday then have to pitch at a college showcase on Sunday. Not even fully mature professional pitchers can maintain activity levels like that for very long without breaking down.

The long and short of it is that to avoid injury and give your kid a legitimate chance at achieving their full potential , their training regimen must  incorporate the necessary amount of rest and recovery. For throwers specifically, that means taking the ball away from them for a time. You don’t have to not do anything, but mix it up. Play basketball or soccer, or something. If your child develops as a more rounded athlete, they will make themselves better at their primary sport and probably remain a lot healthier too.

Jeremy Moeller, ATC

Athletic Trainer

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Practical Strength Training and Stretching Tips to Help You Prevent Pain and Injury on the Slopes: Part 2

skiing bannerNow that ski season is nearly over, you may be wondering why we’re posting the second part of this blog.  Well, as PTs we figure it’s never too late to teach folks how to avoid pain and injury—and by now you may have discovered that a full day of skiing or boarding is leaving you with some aches and pains as you start your Monday morning.  So, that makes you a particularly captive audience!  Training (before you ski/board) and Recovery (during the day and before you get in your car to drive home from the mountain) are both important when you’re hitting the slopes.  Here are some tips:

Training

Before and During Ski Season:

Everyone knows that squats and lunges are the key to enduring a full day on the slopes.  But did you know that your quads and gluts aren’t the only muscles that are important to keep strong to ensure an epic day?

  1. Hamstring to Quad ratio:  Don’t neglect your hammies.  Research suggests that the hamstrings should be at least 50-80% as strong as the quads.  Skiing and boarding will naturally work your quads, so during ski season it’s important to continue to strengthen your hamstrings.
    1. Hamstring Curls on a Swiss Ball (see YouTube video)
    2. Hamstring Curls with a cable or theraband  (see YouTube video)
    3. Straight Leg Dead Lifts  (see YouTube video)
  2. Spine and Pelvis Stability:  Abdominals support spine and pelvis.  Latissimus Dorsi support spine and shoulders.  Skiing and boarding will naturally work your gluts, so during ski season it’s important to continue to strengthen your abs and lats.
    1. Swiss Ball Crunch (see YouTube video)
    2. Lat Pull Downs

Grasp tubing with arms wider than shoulder width.  Lean back slightly.  Depress shoulder blades.  Then pull elbows toward waist.

Recovery

During and Après Ski

If you can squeeze a few moments of stretching into your day (while in a lift line or when you’re taking a hot cocoa break) your body will feel much better by the time you get to the last chair.  And since most of us drive (at least a few miles) to get to the slopes, it’s also important to loosen up before you get in the car to drive home.

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMPT

Owner

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Practical Self-Care Tips to Help You Prevent Pain and Injury on the Slopes: Part 1

Everyone knows that squats and lunges are great exercises to help you handle the steep and deep.  But did you know that preventing injury on the slopes starts in your bedroom?  Keep reading to find out the three things I teach my patients to prevent pain on the slopes—or even while doing yard work—these tips will help you prevent pain before it begins.

1. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the bedroom

The things you do to your body while you sleep at night, determine how your body performs the next day.  If you sleep in a twisted position all night long, it’s not hard to imagine why your back fails you during your 4th run on a powder day.  Sleep position is a common topic at our clinic because it can impact everything from neck pain and headaches to low back and buttock pain.  Here are some things to consider when you hit the sack:

If you are a stomach sleeper:

In order to breathe you must twist your neck to one side.  This is not an ideal position for your neck for a prolonged period (imagine sitting at a desk all day in that position—definitely a violation of ergonomic principles).  So, my usual tip to patients is to try to sleep on your sides or back, if at all possible.

If you are a back sleeper:

Make sure your neck is supported with a pillow that is not too thick or too thin, in order to maintain neutral alignment of the spine.  Try putting a pillow under your knees if your back bothers you in this position.

If you are a side sleeper:

Don’t sleep in a twisted position like the photo on the left below.  Also, the pillow choice advice above applies here too.

2. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in your chair

We treat so many desk jockeys at our clinic it’s no wonder that when the weekend includes 6-8 hours of skiing (and sometimes falling), Monday arrives with pain.  Even if you don’t sit at a desk for a living, you most likely sit for prolonged periods using a handheld device—gaming, facebook, checking email, etc.  It is absolutely necessary to undo what you’ve done all week, such as prolonged sitting or slouching (ahem), if you want to reduce pain on the weekend and be ready for a powder day.

Posture 101:

Roll your hips forward to reduce pressure on your buttocks and restore the natural lordosis of the lumbar spine.  Don’t stick your chinforward or let your upper back and shoulders roll forward.  Instead pretend the hair on the crown of your head is being pulled upward toward the ceiling

Ergonomics 101:

For Pete’s sake don’t sit on the couch like this!  A laptop should only be on your lap if you are using it for less than 30 minutes; otherwise you need to create a docking station at a desk or table.  In general: sit up straight, support your low back, get the monitor at eye level, and make sure you are typing with your elbows at a greater than 90° angle.

 

3. Preventing pain on the slopes starts…in the home

Whether you realize it or not you are doing things every single day that make your back a target for injury.  Every time you bend improperly to unload the dishwasher or pick up your socks off the floor you are setting yourself up for pain on the slopes.  Don’t curve your back when you bend forward, instead bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight.

There you have it. Now you know simple things that you can change in your daily routine to keep you from setting youself up for a rough day on the slopes. The best way to keep injury and painfree on the slopes is to make sure that your postures and body mechanics off the slopes are not putting your musculo-skeletal system at risk.  This post is a part 1 in a series of 2 blogs that will help you prevent pain and injuries during your winter weekends on the mountains. Stay tuned to our blog or Facebook page to see the second part of this series on injury prevention. In the meantime, stay safe out there and stop in or call us if you have any questions on prevention or a current injury!

Kelli Crosby, PT, COMPT

Owner

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Pesky Plantar Fasciitis

      You have stretched, braced, iced, rolled, rested, strengthened, changed shoes and prayed to the plantar fascia gods but nothing is helping your chronic plantar fasciitis. You are not alone, it occurs in 10% of the population. Don’t worry your problem is correctable but may be related to more than your foot. Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain in active as well as sedentary adults of all ages. There are many causes that can include overuse, improper foot wear, obesity, sudden increase in duration and frequency of activities. Plantar fasciitis is defined as inflammation of the plantar fascia. With any inflammation, the stress causing the inflammation must be removed to completely treat the problem. In most cases, plantar fasciitis doesn’t resolve or keeps returning because the cause of the problem is not corrected. Common symptoms include, pain in the heel with the first steps in the morning, sharp, localized pain in the heel or arch, and slow decrease in pain with activity. With chronic plantar fasciitis, one must look past the foot and ankle.

The foot has 33 joints and 20 muscles, with the muscles and fascia attaching to the bones that make up the joints. The plantar fascia has many attachments throughout the foot. A lot can go wrong in such a small space. A joint that doesn’t move properly can cause a host of compensatory reactions in other joints and soft tissues in and around the foot. Joint restrictions can lead to changes in the way your walk, asymmetry in flexibility or limitations in your nerve mobility all the up the kinetic chain. These problems will turn an acute situation, into a chronic problem quickly if not corrected. So it is important to treat all systems to effectively heal the plantar fascia. The biggest problem may actually be in your lower back. The nerves that exit your lower back area are the ones that control the foot and ankle. A joint restriction in your lower back may be the actual cause of your plantar fascia. Restrictions in the lower back cause biomechanical alterations to the joints down the kinetic chain and can limit normal nerve mobility. All this can create abnormal stress to the foot and ankle, especially if combined with an activity like running.

Manual physical therapists will assess strength, flexibility, joint and soft tissue mobility, and nerve mobility of the entire lower quadrant to include lower back, pelvis, hips, knees and feet. We will correct for any joint restrictions throughout the kinetic chain to ensure a quick return to pain free living. Modalities may be appropriate to treat swelling, pain or inflammation. These can include ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, infrared and/or cold therapy. Exercises will be prescribed to normalize mobility and prevent further issues. Research shows that most cases of plantar fasciitis improve over time with these conservative treatments, and surgery is rarely required. So, if you are still dealing with plantar fasciitis, it is time to see a manual physical therapist at Synergy Manual Physical Therapy. In the meantime, be sure to rest as much as possible, perform stretching of the hips, plantar fascia and calf, massage the bottom of the foot and ice multiple times throughout the day. Hang in there; it will improve with the right care.

Kelly Haddock PT, COMT, ATC
Owner
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: What it is and why you need to know!

Female Hip / Sacrum / Pubis / Ischium / Ilium - Anatomy BonesThe pelvic floor is an important part of human anatomy. Considering how important it is, it always amazes me how infrequently the pelvic floor is discussed. It is responsible for correct bowel and bladder function, it is also responsible for normal sexual function. One could think of the pelvic floor as the structure that holds in and supports your insides. If the pelvic floor is weak due to trauma, abnormal muscle recruitment or injury, then the pelvic floor muscles are not equipped to support your internal organs, which can lead to other dysfunctions.

Some of the dysfunctions that can result from pelvic floor weakness is incontinence. That can include bladder and bowel incontinence. Incontinence means that you have diminished, or lack of control of, your bladder or bowel. Symptoms include leakage with coughing, sneezing, laughing or any jarring movement. Other symptoms include increased frequency of going to the bathroom, difficulty starting the flow of urine, or very strong urges to empty your bladder but minimal volume with emptying.

Trauma to the pelvic floor can also lead to weakness. Trauma can include an injury to the hip, pelvis or back, can include sexual abuse, removal of the prostate due to cancer or can result from a very challenging childbirth experience. Sometimes the muscles of the pelvic floor “forget” how to contract again once they have been traumatized. Or, if there is scar tissue, for instance after an episiotomy, then the muscles don’t contract as effectively. Sometimes after injury there is some loss of sensation and so the brain is unable to “find” the pelvic floor muscles in order to contract them and strengthen them.

There is another type of pelvic floor dysfunction that can lead to pain in the pelvic floor. Sometimes the muscles of the pelvic floor get very shortened, tight and weak. This can lead to pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements or constipation. Many times people with shortened pelvic floor muscles experience radiating pain in their lower back, buttocks or inner thighs and can be confused with a pathology of the back or hips.

While both of these dysfunctions cause problems, they are addressed differently. Both dysfunctions will eventually require strengthening and re-education. The shortened and tight muscles first have to learn to relax before they can be strengthened. Both dysfunctions can be addressed by a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor rehab. Men and women can both experience both of these dysfunctions.

For those who do not know how to do pelvic floor strengthening, or who perform the exercises incorrectly, here is a review of how to perform a kegel. Sometimes people read to try to stop and start the flow of urine when emptying their bladder. This is contradictory to how the body should function. I do not recommend that technique. The motion you are going to do is a “lifting” of the pelvic floor. Think of the pelvic floor like a sling or a hammock and when you contract the muscles it is lifting, or tightening the sling.  Once you get more familiar with contracting the muscles you want to perform two types of contractions. You want to hold them for a period of time, say 10 seconds. You can think of these muscles as postural muscles that require more endurance. You also need to perform quick, strong contractions. Think of these muscles as your sneeze muscles, as they help to support your organs when you sneeze.

If you find you have any of the above issues, or questions regarding your pelvic floor, please do not hesitate to contact me for a consultation or evaluation. I look forward to hearing from you!

Taresa Kenens, MPT, COMT
Owner and Pelvic Floor Specialist
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – North Office

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

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Herniated Discs (Part 2): Symptoms and Treatment

This blog is the second part of a two-part blog on herniated discs. In the first post we covered the anatomy of your spinal discs and the common injuries to these discs. You can visit that post by clicking this link. Today we will discuss the symptoms and treatment of a herniated disc and what you should expect when you see a physical therapist.

SYMPTOMS OF A DISC

Just as no two people are the same, neither are our injuries. So this is a list of all possible symptoms but even just having one or two could indicate a disc injury, or you could even have a herniated disc without any symptoms. But on the flip side you could have two or more and actually not have a disc injury. (Are you thoroughly confused yet?) An evaluation from a physical therapist or medical doctor would be required to properly diagnose or rule out a herniated disc.  These are the most common symptoms of a disc injury:

  • Forward flexed posture
  • Increased pain in the morning or late at night
  • You don’t love sitting (standing might also not be that great due to more pressure on the disc)
  • Symptoms radiating down your leg or arm such as numbness, tingling, and/or pain
  • Weakness in arms or leg
  • Muscle cramping or tightness in your neck or back

HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?

Physical therapists can design treatment programs that help the discs heal and address any other associated issues the back and lower body have from compensating. The back will try to protect itself as you still try to function and it can result in muscle tightness and guarding, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, tension in the nervous system, core weakness, and injury to other structures in the spine (ligaments, joints, nerves) as the disc fails to do its job. Treatment of these related issues can help your pain and provide good stimulus for the disc to heal.  Additionally we can design exercise programs so you don’t risk re-injury.  You don’t have to become completely immobile while waiting to heal. For example walking 15-30 min can help pump nutrients to the disc to allow itself to repair.

Therapy can also involve “passive modalities” like traction, ultrasound, electric stimulation, heat and ice. These can help you feel better and promote healing, but you aren’t the type of person who lives your life laying down on a table. You need to lift, reach upwards, pick things off the ground, hike up 14,000ft while carrying a 20 lbs backpack.

Therapy will also include exercises to re-activate the small stabilizers (called the multifidus) of the vertebrae that “shut off” with low back pain. When these don’t work, the large muscles of the back to take over which leads to fatigue and spasm (aka more back pain and tightness). There is a large variety of simple to advanced exercises to work the muscles you need to and these aren’t your weight lifter grandma’s intense sit ups.

You might also be put through exercises to restore motion of the spine, improve the hydration of the disc and to improve flexibility of the lower limbs.  These help combat the stiff and “stuck” feeling of your low back.

Finally, PTs can teach you positions to ease your pain. Remember how I said sitting tends to be a painful position? Try a rolled up towel placed in the low back to maintain the natural curve. Don’t rely on the “lumbar support” from your desk chair or automobile seat. Don’t rely on a “one size fits all” for your specific back anatomy.

Low back bothering you through the day or at home? Try lying on the floor on your back with your hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees such as when you lay on the floor with your legs up on the sofa or a chair.

CONCLUSION

If after reading this you have further questions or suspect you may be suffering from a herniated disc, feel free to call us or stop by one of our offices to schedule an appointment with me or another therapist. One of the keys to a quick recover is to not only beginning to receive treatment right away, but also knowing what to do and what not to do. This is where we take each patient as an individual and create a specific program that matches your symptoms and abilities. So don’t waste any more time, come by and see us to get your back in shape and allow us to help you recover quickly and effectively.

Kacie Rognlie, PT

Clinic Manager – South Office

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112

Herniated Discs (Part 1 of 2): Anatomy and Injury

For many people, injury to one of the discs in the lumbar spine (lower back) evokes thoughts of costly MRIs, large needles for injections, and stories of friends who have had bad backs their whole life. An injury to the low back doesn’t have to be a career or recreation ending injury and can be safely treated with conservative measures, so before you start thinking surgery I want to do some educating on discs and disc injuries to ease any fears of the unknown.

Anatomy of your Disc

The discs of the low back are like other structures in the body (bones, skin, tendons, muscles, etc) that can heal. To give you a better understanding, let’s start with some basic anatomy

  • A healthy, normal disc sits between 2 of the bones (vertebrae) in the spine to cushion shock forces, control movement of those 2 bones, and give us some extra height to tower over the competition. (well, for some)
  • The disc consists of outer and inner fibrous layers oriented like the skin of an onion. These are attached to the vertebrae above and below, which helps control the motion of the bones from moving too much on one another. Due to this connection, you can’t technically “slip” your disc out. I’m telling you this so you sound smarter when talking to medical professionals. (on a related  note , don’t tell your therapist you “twerked” your back. That is definitely not the term you think it is. You might have “tweaked” your back, which can happen, but I don’t want to know if you were trying a Miley Cyrus dance move)
  • Inside of the fibrous layers of the disc is an inner nucleus that is more gelatinous. Think about a jelly donut (you know you want one now!). This nucleus gives you the cushion of the spine.  Overall the nucleus and fibrous layers work together with your muscles and joints to provide the stability that allows you to do what you need to with your back.

Disc Injuries

A disc can become weakened due to the normal degenerative process of aging, prior injury from the glory days of high school sports, current or past overuse that is often due to lifting during work or sports, or a multitude of other injuries from falls or accidents. These past injuries often predispose the disc to future injury and limit its normal functions of support and cushion. The disc is most prone to injury with combined flexion and twisting motions. Throw on a weighted load such as during shoveling snow or yard work and you are setting yourself up back pain.

Injury can happen to inner or outer layers of the disc, the internal nucleus or a combination of those, which can cause a herniated (bulging) disc.  In some cases a bulging disc can impinge on a spinal nerve and cause pain, numbness, and/or tingling down the leg. However, depending on the extent of the bulge and where the injury is, the back may or may not even hurt and there are not always symptoms down the leg. For this reason, we can’t say that all discs herniations benefit from traction (aka “decompression therapy”), injections or surgery. This is where detailed evaluation from a skilled physical therapist can help you. Put us on your list of things to try if you think you might have injured your back at some point.

Conclusion

This post has covered the basics of the anatomy and what happens during an injury. In our next post we will go into more details of the symptoms of a herniated disc and what treatment approaches physical therapists can use to eliminate your symptoms and get you back to a normal life without surgery. If you have any questions, please give us a call or comment on this post. If you know you do have, or suspect you have, a herniated disc, give us a call to set up an initial consultation. We can often have you feeling better in just a few treatments.

Make sure to look out for Part 2 of this post, “Herniated Discs: Treatment“.

– Kacie Rognlie, DPT

Clinic Manager

Synergy Manual Physical Therapy

North Office (map)
4105 Briargate Parkway
Suite 255
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
phone 719.282.2320
fax 719.282.2330

South Office (map)
600 South 21st Street
Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
phone 719.634.1110
fax 719.634.1112