Best Physiotherapy Exercises for Neck & Shoulder Pain

Neck and shoulder pain are often treated with physiotherapy exercises to not only treat the site of the pain, but also determine the underlying cause of connective pain. In most cases, the pain in the neck and shoulders is connected to a misalignment of the hips, shoulders or spine. Because of the misalignment, the muscles of the shoulders and neck will become tense which can lead to stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulder area. To be able to address the problem, physiotherapy strengthening exercises are needed. Below are the best options to get you back on track to feeling better.

Static Back

Lie down on the floor with your legs elevated on a chair or stool. Your knees and hips should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Your arms should be placed on the floor at shoulder level or at 45 degrees. Palms should be facing up. When you lay down like this, your back will settle and you will begin to feel the muscles releasing in your back and shoulders. Five to ten minutes of resting like this is recommended.

Sitting Floor Position

Have a seat on the floor with your back placed against a wall. Feet should be hip width apart. Pull your shoulder blades together and then downwards. Pull your toes and tighten in your thighs. Your feet need to be straight as your head touches the wall. Hold this position for three minutes then release. You will be stretching your shoulder muscles and upper back, helping your shoulders and spine roll into place.

Static Wall

This exercise calls for you to lay down on the floor and move into the wall with your legs going straight up the wall. If you must, you can move back until your tailbone is lying flat on the floor. However, you will get a better stretch if you have your legs going up the wall and your bottom slightly elevated. Pull your toes back and feel yourself tightening your thighs. Make sure your feet are pointing outwards. Hold your positioning for three minutes.

Neck Stretches

Because the neck area is giving you trouble, it is important to stretch the neck muscles. Neck muscles will need to be loosened before stretching so add a little heat before you begin this process. Warming up the muscles will allow for a great stretch. Once heated, begin by dropping your chin to your chest. Move your head back to regular position and then look to the left side. Move back to center and look to the right side, holding for five seconds each.

Roll your head around completely, stretching your muscles during movement. Feel the stiffness melting away as you stress and test your neck muscles.

3 Reasons Why Physical Therapy is Important to a Sports Injury Recovery

Swelling, pain and loss of motion are common complaints following a sports injury. In order to regain post-injury levels, movement is extremely important. The experts in body movements are physical therapists who are trained to conduct specific exercises and stretches meant for aiding recovery to a specific part of the body. So, what are some reasons why physical therapy is important to a sports injury recovery?

Identification of deficiencies

Physical therapists are the ones who conduct each physical therapy session and they are trained to indentify deficiencies in the biomechanics of our body. Just by looking at how to body work will help them to know which part needs help. Therapists are also able to prescribe exercises which are helpful post surgery and help to ensure a fast recovery.

Increase range of motion

Post injury or surgery, the range of motion in that particular joint is extremely limited due to swelling and scarring. There will also be severe pain and the lack of ability to fully use the joint. As a result, exercises are required to be performed in order to overcome it. Physical therapy will help by ensuring a gradual increase in the intensity of exercises, helping to move your joints as much as possible without increasing much pain. It also helps to restore joint movements and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Inhibit scar tissues formation

One of the side effects post surgery is the formation of scar tissues. However, scar tissues are undesirable due to various reasons such as cosmetic appearances, impediment of motion and as a source of discomfort. Scar tissues are usually darker in colour and their sizes depend on the depth of the wound. This can cause women to feel inferior and lose self confidence. Also, scar tissues are thicker and harder than normal tissues and this can impede motion especially if the scarring is at the joints. Being thicker and harder, it also presses down on other tissues, causing pain and lead to a higher chance of re-injury. Physical therapy starts early and this helps to reduce and inhibit the formation of scar tissues, lessening the chances of those effects mentioned above.

Physical therapy is an important part of the healing process. It actually starts before surgery and lasts all the way until around a year later. It helps to strengthen the muscles around the injury to help better support it and regain the range of motion after surgery.

6 Various Physiotherapy Methods

Physiotherapists are experts in their own fields, just like how a surgeon is in his. From strains to sprains and bruises to fractures, physiotherapists are able to restore the body back to optimum performance. In less serious injury cases, physiotherapists are able to help you recover without surgical intervention whereas for serious ones, they can help you to recover faster after surgery. Let’s look at some physiotherapy methods and techniques below.

Hands-on

Physiotherapists like to get their hands dirty, literally. Physiotherapists love to do things manually, such as hands-on approaches. Common examples include stretching, massaging and compressing. Manual therapy is the foundation of any treatment plan prescribed by physiotherapists and they believe it will help patients to recover faster and better.

Physiotherapy with drugs

Sometimes, physiotherapy needs to be performed in conjunction with medical drugs. For injuries such as muscle strains, it appears to be more beneficial if the patient is prescribed muscle relaxant drugs and ointment together with interferential therapy which uses electrical signals that produces soft massaging effects to stimulate the body into producing endorphins for natural pain relief.

Physiotherapy with surgery

For injuries that are much more serious, physiotherapy in combination with surgery offers the best results. Physiotherapy starts way before the surgery date as the patient will need to beef up his body and strengthen the various core muscle groups. Post-surgery physiotherapy will involve regaining back the full range of motion, preventing scarring tissues formation as well as regaining full post-injury fitness and condition.

Good ol’ physiotherapy

In minor cases, physiotherapy alone is sufficient to help the patient recover. In cases such as ankle sprains, massaging the ankle under heat will help to warm up the muscles and tissues, increase blood flow and speed up recovery. Neither surgery nor medication is required in this case.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound which is effectively inaudible sound waves are able to penetrate beyond our subcutaneous tissue layer, loosening it to prepare for physical therapy. It supplies a mild touch of heat to expand and warm up the surrounding tissues, increasing blood flow and speeding up the healing rate.

Electrical stimulations

Electrical stimulations when applied in a small dosage and in a controlled manner can help to stimulate the muscles to contract. This is especially important in patients who are suffering from traumatic injuries which cause them to lose their muscular functions. By using electrical stimulations, proper movement and functions can be restored in a speedier way.

Above are 6 physiotherapy methods explained and explored. Physiotherapy is an integral treatment method that often works hand in hand with surgery. Although the actions done may seem simple, they are actually very effective towards restoring full bodily function.

3 Things to Expect During a Physical Therapy Visit

It’s not surprising that you are a headless chicken with regards to a physical therapy visit. No one wants to go for it if ever possible. If you are a greenhorn, you must definitely be curious about what you will be doing and prepare yourself for it. Firstly, you must know that a physical therapy visit non-surgical and there is no need to worry about needles and blood. The one and only aim of your physiotherapist is to bring you back on the road to recovery. So what are some things to expect during a physical therapy visit?

Initial evaluation

The initial evaluation part of the session is the most important. It gives the therapist a full picture of your past lifestyle, your cause of injury and what you wish to achieve in the future. This way, your therapist can then design an efficient programme for you in the most suitable timeframe and physical level. If your goal is just to be able to walk properly after a knee surgery for example, he will simply prescribe you exercises to strengthen the core muscle groups to provide stability. However, if you intend to go back to competitive sports post surgery, the plan will be totally different. This part will also include your medical history which can affect your recovery progress.

Treatment

After a proper warming up session, you will start to perform exercises designed specifically for your condition. A post knee surgery patient will need to perform balancing as well as stability exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles so that they can bear the weight better. Some common exercises would be the leg press and stairs. Stretches will also be performed with the intent of achieving a full range of motion at places such as the knee and elbow joint.

Review of session

After a proper cooling down session, your physiotherapist will then sit down with you for a review of your physiotherapy session. Throughout the session, he is busy noting down the amount of weight you can bear, degree of motion as well as your flexibility. A good therapist will go through these figures with you so that you know whether you are improving or lagging behind. He will also inform you what to expect during the next session and prescribe you some exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home.

A physical therapy session is actually fun and enjoyable to the patients. Although it may be physically tiring at times, patients are given exercises which are manageable to them and they are able to review their progress at the end of each therapy.

5 Types of Physiotherapy Exercises

Physiotherapy exercises are an integral part of the recovery process of a patient with musculoskeletal problems. There are different types of exercises targeted at different parts of the body and is often used in conjunction with other treatment methods such as surgery and medication.

Range of motion exercises

One of the most common physiotherapy exercises is the range of motion exercise. This is performed by patients suffering from joint problems including the knee joint, shoulder joint and elbow joint. Due to injury, joints are often stiff, inflamed and swollen. As a result, the ability to achieve maximum range of motion is hindered. Imagine yourself being unable to fully straighten your leg or your elbow. It is definitely going to cause a lot of discomfort. Range of motion exercises can effectively loosen tight tissues and help to slowly improve your joint flexibility.

Strengthening exercises

Strengthening exercises can be prescribed before and after any surgery. Before surgery, the muscles must be strong as patients are often required are required to rest for a certain period of time, resulting in atrophy of the muscles. Strong muscles prior to surgery can help to reduce the level of weakness and better support the injured parts. After surgery, the muscles will need to be strengthened to help better support the recovery parts and bear the weight and grunt of the body.

Soft tissue mobilisation

Soft tissue mobilisation helps to relax tense and tight muscles which would otherwise be causing a lot of discomfort and pain to the patient. It is performed by therapists doing massage on the affected area, static stretching to relax and relieve stiffness and the usage of therapeutic tapes which supposedly helps to improve blood flow.

General conditioning

General conditioning as its name suggests helps to provide conditioning of the body through various cardiovascular exercises such as walking, swimming and jogging. It helps to increase flexibility of the joints as well as improve overall health.

Balancing exercises

Due to injuries, the body’s natural ability to balance the body may be slightly off and therefore, exercises that help to restore the balance will need to be performed. Initially, the use of a parallel bar may be required to help you keep your balance but as time goes by, you can start to disregard the presence of that bar.

Physiotherapy aims to recondition your body back to its initial condition and help you achieve a better quality of life.

Understanding More About Bankart Lesion Repair

Our shoulder is best described as a ball and socket joint that allows flexible movement in various directions. However, there is a direct trade off between flexibility and stability. Due to the extreme flexibility, it is unstable and is very prone to injuries and dislocation. When the labrum is detached from the glenoid, it adds to the instability. It is very easy for the shoulder ball to pop out of the socket and when this happens, it will tear the inferior glenohumeral ligament, leading to an injury called Bankart Lesion. To recover fully, either an arthroscopic or an open surgery called the Bankart Lesion Repair will need to be carried out.

Most surgeons prefer to carry out an arthroscopic surgery due to the higher success rates, lower chances of infection and shorter recovery time. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that involves making small incisions to the surgical site to allow the placement of small cameras and surgical tools. Due to its minimally invasive nature, the wound is very much smaller and that leads to a lower risk of infection and faster recovery process. Prior to the surgery, the patient will need to go on a food and drink fast after midnight. During the surgery, the surgeon will reattach back the labrum to the bone along the glenohumeral. The entire shoulder structure will not be modified and there is not a need to detach the subscapularis muscle. You will wake up with a sling and you should always wear it when you are sleeping to immobilise your shoulder to prevent further aggravation of your injury. It will need to be worn religiously for around 3 months.

As general anaesthesia is administered before the surgery, you will not feel any pain immediately when you wake up. However, once the effects of the anaesthesia wears off, the immediate pain will be excruciating. To prevent this sudden onset of pain, you should consume painkillers around 30 minutes before the anaesthesia wears off. To reduce swelling, you should apply ice pack to the surgical site, bearing in mind to always keep the wound nice and dry. You will be unable to use your affected hand for a few weeks. To prevent muscular atrophy, you will need to start performing physical therapy exercises under the guidance of a physical therapist. Physiotherapy will help to reduce scarring and regain the range of motion of your shoulder. It will also help to build up and strengthen your muscles to better support your weakened shoulder joint.

To enable you to continue leading a high quality lifestyle, a Bankart Lesion Repair procedure will need to be carried out to surgically reattach your labrum. This will help to prevent future reoccurrence of  your shoulder slipping out of the socket. Although the initial period after surgery will be extremely restrictive, you should persevere on and aim for a speedy recovery.

5 Simple Rehab Exercises for Rotator Cuff Injury

Our rotator cuff is made up of muscles, tendons and ligaments which hold the shoulder blade firmly with the humerus. Our shoulder joint is one of the most heavily used joint in the whole body and this place the shoulder at a high injury risk. Rotator cuff injuries can commonly happen to people who are actively in sports or use the shoulder heavily. Exercises are an integral form of treatment for someone suffering from Rotator Cuff injuries. It is also often the first form of treatment that most doctors will prescribe to patients and only when it fails will he recommend surgery.

Shoulder blade stretch

Shoulder blade stretching can be performing either standing up or in a seated position. Reach across your chest with both arms and try to hold onto the opposite shoulder blade. You should be able to feel a tight stretch at both shoulders and hold in the position for 15 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Shoulder elevation

Stand in an upright position with both arms at the side and keeping the elbows straight. Slowly lift up your arms forward to 70 degrees while ensuring that the elbows are still kept straight. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Shoulder rotation

Lie down on the floor on one side of your body and use the hand on the opposite side and bend the elbows 90 degrees. Slowly rotate the shoulder in an upwards direction. You should be able to feel the pressure at the shoulder blade lessening. Continue the rotation for 3 sets of 10 and switch sides.

Bicep curls

Start off with a light weight dumbbell in your hands and slowly bring them up in an alternating manner until you feel a very tight stretch in the biceps and hold in the position for 10 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and switch hands. Perform 3 sets of 15.

Prone Horizontal Abduction

Lie down on your stomach with your hands by the sides. Slowly extend both arms outwards in a parallel manner and until you can feel a tight strain. Hold in the position for 10 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Rehab exercises may seem boring and you will not feel motivated to perform them. However, their main purpose is to increase flexion and extension, as well as to strengthen the shoulder. Strong muscles are important if surgery is required in the future and it can help to lessen the recovery period.

Microdiscectomy Spine Surgery or Physiotherapy?

Located in our spine are intervertebral discs who acts as the cushioning system for the spine. It helps to balance the forces experience by the spine through actions like standing, jumping, lifting and sitting. It also helps to protect the vertebrae and brain by limiting the amount of movement allowed by each individual disc. Repeated actions over time can cause the disc to weaken and sudden impact or trauma can cause shearing of the discs, resulting in the semi-liquid substances to impinge onto the nerves, causing pain. When things get more serious, daily actions such as bowel and bladder control may not be possible and thus, surgery is often recommended by doctors. However, should you really consider surgery or other options like physiotherapy?

Microdiscectomy

During microdiscectomy, a small part of the bone is removed to create a space between the vertebrae which helps to relieve internal pressure, reduce pain and relieve neural impingement. As a small piece of bone is removed, it will not cause any instability issues with it. Neural impingement can cause pain in places such as the leg and after microdisectomy, an almost instant relief can be felt by the patient. As with all spine injury, there is a certain risk level. It is often the last resort as no surgery is 100% risk free. Unless patients suffer from bowel and bladder incontinence or other neural problems, doctors will not recommend surgery and will often suggest physiotherapy to try to find a solution to the problem. However, risk level is still generally low compared to other forms of surgery.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is one of the options doctors will recommend initially together with pain relief medication. Physiotherapy is non-invasive, relatively safe and helps to strengthen the muscles in the body. Through stabilisation and strengthening exercises, some patients are able to find relief and are able to continue to lead a good quality lifestyle without surgery. Strong muscles are able to help take on some of the burden from the spine and distribute the weight much more evenly, reducing the stresses placed on the spine and reducing pain. Even if surgery is required after physiotherapy, it helps to reduce the recovery time as physiotherapy helps to keep them in a tip top condition and with strong muscles and body functions, they are able to recover faster.

When you suffer from spinal pain, you should consider going for physiotherapy first. There is always a chance that you can recover and lead a pain free life without surgery. However, only when things start to become more serious should you consider surgery.