From Our Blog

Upper Body – Back

Get Your Back Back to Being Pain-free

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints. Degenerative conditions, such as osteoarthritis, spondylolisthesis (when a vertebra in the spine slips out of the proper position onto the bone below it), osteoporosis and herniated discs, are often the toughest to cope with because they can cause chronic back pain. Chronic back pain due […]

Pinpointing a Low Back Pain Problem

Five is an unlucky number for many people with spondylolysis (spon-dee-low-LYE-sis), because this condition—a weakness or stress fracture of a spinal bone—is most often found near the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back. It may, however, occur in other lumbar vertebrae, as well as in the chest area. Spondylolysis is often caused by overuse, […]

Exercise Your Way to Better Posture

Posture refers to how your body holds itself – primarily when you are standing but also in sitting or even lying positions. Having a strong, well-balanced body promotes movement efficiency and endurance, contributes to an overall feeling of well being, and projects poise confidence and dignity. Conversely, with a weak, imbalanced body where your bones […]

Ease That Nagging Back Pain

Your back is killing you, and the last thing you want to do is exert yourself. Unfortunately, for most cases of back pain, lying around in bed can only make the problem worse. Numerous studies have shown that exercise improves back pain, and the more regularly you engage in physical activity, the better. Exercise also […]

Recovery from Microdiscectomy

Microdiscectomy, a common form of lower back surgery, is used to treat leg pain caused by disc herniation. Because it uses a smaller incision, microdiscectomy is far less invasive and causes far less trauma to underlying tissues than its alternative, laminectomy. Because the mechanical structure of the lower spine remains unchanged, the recovery period after […]

Core Reasons to Strengthen Your Core

Everyone seems to be talking about “core strengthening,” but many people don’t know what this phrase means. The body’s “core” refers to the muscles around the abdomen, pelvis, back, shoulders, chest and hips—the body’s center of gravity—all working together in a symphony of movement. As a result, it plays a role in virtually all activities. […]

My Back Pain Always Returns! What Can I Do?

After the common cold, the most common reason Americans miss work is back pain. Unfortunately, once you have experienced back strain or injury, it can easily become a recurring problem. Many cases of back strain are due to the way we live—sitting at desks all day, hunched over a computer, with little physical activity. Unless […]

How Your Mattress Affects Back and Neck Pain

People who suffer from back and neck pain, particularly when it’s chronic, look to many sources to relieve their discomfort. One question that is frequently asked is whether the purchase of a special mattress will help to manage back and neck pain. Since a large amount of time is spent sleeping, a poor mattress can […]

When Backing Up the Car Becomes a Pain in the Neck

That pain you feel when turning your head while backing up your car is probably due to tightness in the muscles of your neck and upper back, often the result of years of poor posture. To improve your posture, keep your neck in a “neutral” position, with your chin more tucked in than pushed forward. […]

Help! My Back Hurts Whenever I Travel

People who travel have discovered through painful experience that the spine was not designed for long hours of sitting. Too often, the hours spent in a plane or car can result in an aching back the next day. But there are steps you can take before, during and after travel to reduce back pain. First, […]

Does a Herniated Disc Mean Surgery?

Back pain can put a severe crimp in your daily activities. One cause of such pain is a herniated disc, also called a slipped or ruptured disc. A common condition of the lower back that seldom requires surgery, herniated discs are most common in women and men aged 30 to 50 years, although they also […]

Recurrent Back Pain After a Herniated Disc Removal

One reason back surgery “fails” is that the area operated on was not, in fact, the area causing the pain. Because the back and its nerves are so complex, this often cannot be foreseen before surgery. In fact, back surgery more commonly alleviates leg pain than back pain, because it is easier to trace leg […]

Core Training to Relieve Lower Back Pain

After the common cold, lower back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor. Although lower back pain is easy to recognize, its causes are many, varied and often unclear. Thus, one of the greatest challenges facing physical therapists is to match the suspected cause of the pain with the best […]

Get In the Swim for Back Pain

Back pain can carry a double whammy. Painful back muscles may prevent you from exercising comfortably. But a lack of exercise may inhibit your back from healing and may actually make the condition worse. Swimming can be an excellent solution to your problem. Fortunately, swimming provides a great full body workout. Water counteracts the forces […]

Hurt Your Back? Get Out of Bed!

Regardless of your age or condition, a fall can take a toll on your back. Whether it’s a slippery bathtub, a wrinkled rug or an unexpected step, falling catches us when we least expect it. Most of us escape these incidents with a few ugly bruises, but some sustain significant back injuries—or at least injuries […]

Spinal Fractures Don’t Have to Be Back Breakers

If you have lingering back pain that becomes worse with prolonged sitting, you may have a spinal compression fracture. Though this sounds alarming, it is much more common than people realize, affecting approximately 700,000 Americans every year. The good news: In most cases, it can be treated without surgery. As we age, our bones become […]

Can TENS Relieve Low-back Pain?

If you have suffered from acute or chronic pain—including tendinitis, bursitis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia or recurrent back pain—you may have been treated with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This frequently used treatment is widely considered safe for many conditions. In fact, you may have even seen inexpensive units marketed for home use. Can at-home electrical stimulation […]

We’ve Got Your Back

If you suffer from recurring back pain, you have plenty of company. Back pain is one of the most common and universal health complaints among adults. Its causes are often unclear, and solutions that work wonders for some individuals may be completely ineffective for others. Not surprisingly, some sufferers have adopted habits that provide pain […]

Artificial Cervical Disc: An Alternative to Spinal Fusion

Cervical discs act as shock absorbers between the cervical vertebrae, allowing your neck to move freely. After a diseased or otherwise damaged intervertebral disc has been removed during surgical decompression of the spinal cord or nerve root, an artificial cervical disc can be inserted between two cervical vertebrae, preserving motion. The procedure is reserved for […]

Healing Spinal Fractures Without Surgery

The thought of “breaking your back” is pretty scary, but more than 700,000 people a year fracture their spines and do not even realize it. In fact, many of them brush off the symptoms (backaches, loss of flexibility and a tendency to appear “hunched”) as a normal part of aging. While such fractures may not […]

Stiff Back: Not a Good Way to Start the Day

Morning back stiffness can stem from a large number of conditions, from the mundane to the exotic. In an otherwise healthy individual, it can simply be the result of fluid accumulation in the spinal disks during the night. This can result in stiffness or pain in the back. Preventing morning stiffness can be as simple […]

Getting Your Disks in Order

One of the most common causes of back pain, degenerative disk disease (DDD) occurs when intervertebral disks break down. Your spine is comprised of a column of bones called vertebrae, with gel-filled disks between them to absorb shock. Made up of about 80% water, these vertebral disks lose water as you age, causing them to […]

Early Exercise = Speedy Healing Following Disc Surgery

If you have had a microdiscectomy—surgery to alleviate sciatica, or sciatic nerve pain caused by a herniated disc—a postoperative regimen that includes exercise can help speed your return to a normal, active life. In the past, patients were advised to limit their movements for up to six weeks after microdiscectomy surgery to avoid reinjury. However, […]

Is Piriformis Syndrome Getting on Your (Sciatic) Nerve?

Characterized by tingling, numbness and pain deep in the buttock, piriformis syndrome describes what happens when the piriformis muscle, a muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip that stabilizes the hip joint and enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another and maintain balance, compresses the sciatic […]

A “Multifaceted” Approach to Back Pain

Do you feel as though you need to turn your entire body to look to one side? Do you wake up with pain in the base of your head and upper back, pain that only gets worse after long car rides or working at a desk all day? Is there an unexplained ringing in your […]

When Back Pain Comes Back

Exercise is often prescribed as the preferred treatment for lower back pain, and walking seems like a healthy, low-impact option. Yet patients often return to their physicians complaining that their walking program has not helped—or has even made things worse. The problem is usually not the walking itself, but the absence of other stretching and […]

Cracking the Pain of Spinal Compression Fracture

You lifted a bag of groceries from the floor. Now your physician says your back pain is the result of spinal compression fracture. What is that? Can it be treated? Will the pain go away? Spinal compression fracture occurs when bones of the back cannot support the demand placed on them and collapse. Sometimes multiple […]

Balancing Life and Low Back Pain

Low back pain is common and can result from overuse, muscle strain or injury. It is one of the leading causes of job-related disability and missed work in the United States and is considered chronic when it lasts for more than 12 weeks. One study suggests that trunk balance exercises are especially important for treating […]

Get In the Swim for Back Pain

Back pain can carry a double whammy. Painful back muscles may prevent you from exercising comfortably. But a lack of exercise may inhibit your back from healing and may actually make the condition worse. Swimming can be an excellent solution to your problem. Fortunately, swimming provides a great full body workout. Water counteracts the forces […]

Getting to the “Core” of Back Problems

According to recent studies, 70–80% of Americans will experience back pain at some time in their lives. For most people, back pain will resolve with conservative treatment. One of the treatment options available is increasing strength and flexibility in what are referred to as your “core” muscles. Lower core muscles are the muscles surrounding your […]

Exercise Away Your Back Pain

How common is back pain? The majority of people in the United States will suffer from lower back pain at least once in their lifetimes. But treating the pain can be complex and is usually best done with advice from a physical therapist. Some people may require surgery to treat their back pain. However, surgery […]

Pedaling Your Way to Health

You probably remember learning how to ride a bike. But most likely, your six-year-old self had no clue just how beneficial this newly acquired skill could be to your overall health and wellness. One of the most popular and enjoyable fitness activities, cycling was recently celebrated in the medical community for enhancing cardiac health, thanks […]

Straightening the Curves of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is curved toward either the right or left side. Thus, the upper back seems to be rounded, the lower back appears to curve inward (swayback), and one shoulder and/or hip looks higher than the other. About 80% of scoliosis cases occur in people 10 to 18 years […]

Physical Therapy: An Alternative to Back Surgery

It may seem counterintuitive for a surgeon to recommend physical therapy instead of back surgery, but lumbar fusion is not appropriate for everyone. Many people suffering from back pain can benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapy can strengthen the back and move the protruding disk away from the affected nerve. Pain management procedures may relieve […]

Perspectives for Patients – Low Back Pain

Low back pain is very common, with 80% of people experiencing back pain at least once in their lifetimes. The good news is that a thorough physical examination can often determine the best course of management and whether you require imaging (X ray, MRI, CT scans, etc) to rule out a serious problem. Read full […]

Exercise Can Relieve That Aching Back

Back pain is a common complaint, with about 25% of people in the United States reporting low back pain within the previous three months. Back pain often occurs after surgery for a back injury. Other causes include a ruptured disc, osteoporosis, arthritis, lumbar muscle strain and sciatica. A sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, obesity, smoking and depression […]

Back Pain and MRI Findings

Surprisingly, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results can actually interfere with proper diagnoses of orthopedic problems. Although the MRI is sensitive, it is not very specific. In fact, a tiny percentage of MRIs show zero abnormalities in an imaged body part—whether the person experiences any discomfort or not. For instance, approximately 40% of healthy patients show […]

When Back Pain Is Good

Can back pain ever be good? People suffering from backache would say, “No.” But some experts believe that back pain resulting from a process known as centralization can be a very good thing. Centralization means that pain originating in the back and traveling to the leg or the buttocks can be redirected to its actual […]

Please Do Not Be Seated

Is sitting really bad for you? In a word: Yes. An emerging body of data says that sitting, one of the most relaxed of all human activities, is actually bad for your health. How bad can it be? The medical literature reports that sitting improperly or for too long causes back damage, reduces brain functionality […]

Getting Your Back Back to Normal

Chronic back pain can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to function. If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disk, you might want to take the most drastic steps to eliminate the pain as soon as possible. For many people this means surgery. However, before surgery becomes an option, many doctors recommend […]

Relieving the Pain of Vertical Compression Fractures

Vertical compression fractures, in which all or part of the spine bone collapses, are commonly caused by osteoporosis, the thinning of the bone. Other causes include certain cancers that weaken the bones and direct trauma to the spine, such as one incurred in an automobile accident. If you have endured severe debilitating spinal pain over […]

Are Back Braces Effective?

Lower back pain is a common concern among adults, especially those whose jobs involve heavy lifting. You might see workers at your local home improvement store wearing lumbar support bands—“back support” braces. These devices are becoming increasingly popular for the rest of us, as well. But do they really work? A brace is especially helpful […]

Going in Reverse: When Your Back Impedes Driving

When backing up your car, do you find it difficult to turn around to see what’s behind? Loss of rotational ability in the back is one of the problems we develop as we age. The good news is that exercises to increase range of motion and strength can go a long way to restoring some […]

Benefits of Spinal Surgery Can Be Short-Term

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Physical Therapy offers same outcomes for patients with sciatica 6 months after surgery. Middleburg, Virginia, June 23, 2008 – A recent study published in the British Medical Journal1 reports that spinal surgery for patients with sciatica offers a short term benefit, but by 6 months that benefit disappears and no difference is […]

Physical Therapists Offer Low-Cost Solution to Increasing Health Costs

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Spinal Manipulation, Exercise and Advice Offer Patients an Effective Alternative for Back Pain Middleburg, Virginia, Feb. 14, 2008 – Health care expenditures for patients with spinal conditions are rising without an associated increase in health status, according to a February, 2008 research report appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association. […]

Relieving Dowager’s Hump Through Exercise

Older individuals with osteoporosis often develop spinal kyphosis, resulting in the formation of a pronounced hunchback, sometimes called a “dowager’s hump” (kyphos means “hump” in Greek). Kyphosis occurs because a spinal vertebra, usually at the level of the rib cage, becomes weak and porous. Eventually, something as innocent as a sneeze or cough causes the […]