VCSST_Understand Your Back Pain

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UNDERSTAND YOUR BACK PAIN Our Therapists Can Help You! Being educated about your back pain can help you make the right choices to overcome it as quickly as possible. The therapists at VCSST believe the more you know and understand about your particular condition, the better we can work together to optimize your outcome. We take the time to answer your questions and explain our treatment rationale so that you are an educated participant in your care.

5 Symptoms of Sciatica

PracticeNews Thanks to all of our terrific patients who made Halloween so much fun by participating in the costume contest and pumpkin decorating competition. Congratulations to Terry Matthews, winner of our Halloween Costume Contest! Halloween Costume Contest One of the most common back issues experienced in the United States is sciatica pain, and this sort of pain is often a lot more difficult to identify — especially by those who aren’t familiar with the problem. How can you tell the difference between back pain and sciatica pain? The answer is that sciatica pain is characterized by the following factors: • Constant pain is only present in one side of the buttocks or leg • The pain becomes worse when you are sitting •The legpaindevelopsmoreasaburning, tingling or searing sensation, and not as a plain ache

• There is a sharp pain that occurs at times, making it sometimes difficult to stand or walk • The pain is radiating, shooting down the leg and sometimes even into the feet and toes Sciatica pain can be referred from the lower back down into the legs, and so while the pain itself is generated from the back, the experience is more largely associated with leg discomfort. What’s more, sciatica pain doesn’t always develop like pain in the traditional sense. Sciatic pain can be felt as a buildup of tingling, numbness and achiness in the lower back and upper legs and the discomfort may not be consistent either. The sensation will typically run through the leg in waves, causing

discomfort at seemingly unpredictable times. If you are experiencing back pain and you haven’t talked to a medical professional about theconcern, thennow is the time to takeaction. Working with a physical therapist can cut your time struggling with back pain literally in half. For more information about overcoming back pain, contact us.

Call today to get help to understand how you can beat the pain.

Wednesday, December 19th is our Ugly Holiday Sweater Competition. Wear yours to your appointment that day or send us a pic of you wearing it to be entered into a contest for a gift card! Don’t have a sweater but STILL BELIEVE tacky is festive? Great! Send us a pic in your creative attire to be entered to frontdesk@vcsst.com Don we now o sweaters, fa l

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Stretching or Strengthening?

It has long been been assumed that stretching is vital to maintain flexibility and prevent injuries. While a good warm up serves to gradually increase heart rate and circulation to tissues and prepares the mind as well as the body for activity, stretching alone has not been shown to be effective in preventing exercise-related injury or reinjury. Multiple studies have repeatedly shown that in order to prevent overall injury or reduce the risk of recurrence of injury, you should prioritize strengthening over stretching. In fact, when comparing stretching to strengthening, head to head, on everything from flexibility, sports performance, injuryprevention,and longevity as we age, strengthening wins every time!

a comprehensive conditioning program should include appropriateelementsofstretching. However, if you have limited time and want to get the most bang for the buck, a few strengthening exercises will reap more rewards. Performing resistance training, particularly eccentric resistance training,hasbeendetermined tobe an effective way to decrease pain, increasemusclestrength,enhance flexibility and increase functional ability. You are better off working on making your muscles stronger, rather than attempting to make them longer. Ultimately, it’s important just to move and move often - do things you enjoy, and change it up once in awhile.Afterall,variety is thespice of life and it’s certainly beneficial to prepare ourselves for whatever life may throw at us!

Now, if you you really enjoy stretching, that certainly doesn’t mean you should stop. Indeed,

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Patient Spotlight “Over the past year I had a fracture in my back from gymnastics, and I was out for three months and not allowed to do much of anything. The staff really helped and went above and beyond for my needs and kept a close check on how I felt with each of the exercises. With my time there, I had three main staff who worked with me and they did a phenomenal job, as well as the others who I observed with other patients. They are personable and really care about you. I would highly recommend to anyone especially if they are recovering from a long term sports injury. Now I am back in the gym, good as new, and I am thankful that I had such a great PT experience.”

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Natalie T. 5 stars

Newsletter

Understand Your Back Pain

Research tells us that 80-90% of people in the UnitedStateswillexperiencebackpainatsome point in their lives. Most of the time, it is not a serious problem and will resolve relatively quickly with conservative treatment. On very rare occasions, your back pain may require a little more attention. Most of the time, all you need is the right advice tokeepactive,perhapsminimizecertain movements for a few days while moving more in a different way. Working with a physical therapist is probably the best thing you can do if your back pain doesn’t resolve on its own in a few days. Within a few weeks, you should be able to get back to normal routines and be working towards higher level athletic activity if that is your goal. One thing to remember is that the degree of pain does not necessarily correlate with the severity of the problem. A relatively minor problemcanstillbequitepainful. Unfortunately, many people attempt self-diagnosis using online symptom checkers and fall prey to “cyberchondria,” or unfounded anxiety about their health issues. After receiving well- intentioned but incorrect advice, they often think their problem is worse than it is. Multiple

studies have shown that the more negatively people think about their back pain, the more likely they are to suffer long-term issues, miss more time fromwork, and avoid doing regular, functional activities. Many people erroneously believe that imaging studies (X-rays, MRI’s, etc) are essential before resuming any activity following an episode of back pain. Studies have shown that people who have early imaging done for their back pain are likely to spend nearly $4,000 more on their care without a significant difference in outcome as compared to those who received physical therapy treatment first. Multiple other studies have shown that findings on x-rays and MRIs among people as young as 20 have little to no correlation with symptoms, and are as common in people WITHOUT symptoms as those with symptoms. However, the good news is that the physical therapists at Virginia Center for Spine and Sports Therapy can help determine if your back pain is something serious or not. When symptoms are more localized in the back and even in the hips, that is usually a positive sign. Even if symptoms refer into the legs, which is stillcommon,as longaswedetermine thereare

no signs of progressive neurological change, that is a positive sign as well. Progressive neurological changes include loss of muscle strength in the legs, a loss of sensation in part of the leg or foot, loss of reflexes, and more seriously, a loss of bowel and/or bladder control. In the absence of these, it is most likely that your back pain is nothing serious and that you will be able to resume your normal, active lifestylewith the right helpandguidance.On an evenmorepositivenote, thereare thousandsof patients every year who actually have all these symptoms with an acute back pain episode, but don’t need surgery. They recover fully with Physical Therapy treatment! Another important take-home message is that back pain is a complex multifactorial experience and identifying a single source for your pain is truthfully not always possible, nor necessary. Your pain experience is unique to you and the Physical Therapists at VCSST will work with you to formulate a plan to help get you back to living your best life as fast as possible.

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