Olympians and Disc Herniations

Evgeni-Plushenko-back-injury-russia-withdraw-02132014The 2014 Winter Olympics have been a wonderful display of determination, speed, strength, agility and athletic performance. As the athletes pushed their bodies to the limits, injuries inevitably occurred. Disc herniations were one common injury that plagued athletes. Craig Pickering (Great Britain, bobsled), Evgeni Plushenko (Russia, figure skating), Henrik Zetterberg ( Sweden, ice hockey), and Brendan Green (Canada, biathlon) all experienced disc herniations, which in most cases prevented them from competing in the games.

Back pain PID 1The spine is composed of 24 bones (vertebrae) that are stacked on top of one another. A small disc is located between each vertebra and acts as a cushion and shock absorber.  These discs have a tough outer layer called the annulus that surrounds a jelly-like substance called the nucleus.

A disc herniation begins when wear and tear or a sudden injury causes the jelly substance to push against the tough outer layer. If severely injured, the nucleus can break or herniate through the outer layer. Since there is limited space in the spinal column, the herniated disc can press on the spinal nerve causing pain.Bulging-Disc

Causes
1) Sudden unexpected load: traumatic situations such as a motor vehicle accident, lifting and twisting, or a fall. Any sudden event that cause an unexpected load to the disc may result in disc herniation.

2) Accumulated micro trauma: repeated micro injury to the disc over a period of time can result in disc herniation. For example, poor posture when sitting, standing and working can cause over stretching and weakness of the outer layer of the disc. Over time this weakens the disc and increases the risk of the nucleus herniating. 

Symptoms
Symptoms of disc herniation can include one or all of the following:
-back pain
-leg and/or foot pain
-weakness in leg or foot
-numbness or tingling sensation in leg or foot
-loss of bowl or bladder control: this is very rare but may indicate a more serious condition called caudal equine syndrome. Immediate medical attention is required.

Diagnosis
Your doctor or physiotherapist will suspect a disc herniation based on your symptoms and the history of your injury. A physiotherapist can perform clinical tests to determine if there is disc injury and nerve compression. MRI and CT scans are the most accurate diagnostic tests to confirm disc herniation.

Treatment
Conservative treatment is appropriate for minor and moderate disc herniations. Physiotherapy treatment can include a variety of methods such as ice therapy, traction, electrotherapy, taping techniques, soft tissue massage, acupuncture, joint mobilization, postural advice and home exercise program. More serious cases may require surgical intervention.

For more information about Kinetic Physiotherapy, visit our website:http://www.kineticphysiotherapy.ca  Contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via e-mail:info@kineticphysiotherapy.ca or phone: 905-637-1414 to set up an appointment.

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Bronze with a Broken Rib

1297523994615_ORIGINALThe Sochi 2014 Olympics are now underway and it has been a great day for team Canada. The day started with a bronze medal finish by our very own, Mark McMorris, in Men’s Slopestyle Snowboard. Winning Canada’s first medal is quite an accomplishment, especially given the athlete’s injury.  McMorris fractured one of his ribs 2 weeks before the Olympics, which posed a big concern for the medal hopeful. However, with determination and intensive therapy, McMorris persevered  in order to fulfil his Olympic dream.  This is an incredible feat as most would be unable to compete with such an injury.

What is a rib fracture?
A rib fracture is a break of any of the 12 rib bones. The ribs form a cage around the torso, attaching to the spine at the back and traveling around to the front of the chest. Ribs 1-7 attach to the sternum, ribs 8-10 attach to the rib above via cartilage, and ribs 11-12 are considered ‘floating ribs’ because they do not attach to the chest.

Fractures are typically the result of trauma to the chest caused by a fall, direct impact to the chest, or motor vehicle accident. In serious cases, the rib can be become displaced, which may result in organ damage to the lungs, liver, kidney, spleen or blood vessels.

nucleus-medical-art-illustration-of-the-thoracic-chest-and-back-skeletal-anatomy-featuring-the-ribs-sternum

Signs and symptoms of a rib fracture can include:
-chest, midback, side pain that may radiate into the shoulder, neck or back
-pain with breathing
-pain in the chest with coughing and sneezing
-pain with movement, especially bending and twisting (McMorris was doing a lot of this)
-visible bruising on the chest
-tender to touch the area of the fracture

Rib fracture treatment:
Depending on the severity and presentation of symptoms, physiotherapists utilize a number of techniques to treat rib fractures. These include: advice on activity limitations/restriction, taping, postural correction, protective padding, soft tissue work, joint mobilization (post fracture healing), graduated return to sport/activity plan, electrotherapy, fall prevention programs and exercises to improve range of motion, strength and flexibility.

It is amazing the Mark McMorris fought through this injury today to bring home the bronze. We are so proud of all of our Canadian athletes and look forward to more inspiring stories to come. GO CANADA GO!

For more information about Kinetic Physiotherapy, visit our website:http://www.kineticphysiotherapy.ca  Contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via e-mail:info@kineticphysiotherapy.ca or phone: 905-637-1414 to set up an appointment.

Connect With Your Core

What is my core?

core-muscles-diagramThe core can be divided in to two groups of muscles, the “inner core” and the “outer core”.

The “inner core” is composed of 4 deep stabilizing muscles: the transversus abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles.  These muscles do not create any specific movement. Instead, when correctly working together, these muscles turn on before you move your body to provide stability to the spine and pelvis. Therefore, having a strong inner core helps to prevent back injury. It also provides a strong base of support for leg and arm movement which can help to prevent and rehabilitate neck, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle injuries.

Conversely, when these muscles don’t work correctly, the body must resort to less efficient movement strategies to perform various tasks. This increases your risk for injury, dysfunction and recurrent pain. Research shows that following a back injury, the anticipatory co-contraction of the inner core muscles is impaired. This can create a cycle of: injury, pain, impaired “inner core” muscles and increased risk of injury. This cycle can be broken through targeted “inner core” strengthening.

manage_abs5The “outer core” is composed of the rectus abdominis (“six-pack” muscle), inner and outer obliques and the back extensor muscles known as the erector spinae. These are the muscles that are normally targeted during abdominal exercise programs and “core” exercise classes. The problem with this is that the “inner core” muscles remain untrained and weak while the “outer core” muscles get stronger. During injury, the outer core muscles can tighten up in an attempt to compensate for “inner core” muscle weakness. This can actually contribute to and exacerbate back pain.

Strengthening Your Core
It is very important to add inner core strengthening to your daily routine. We normally do not think consciously about engaging these muscles and you may not even know how to isolate them. A physiotherapist can assess your current inner core strength and co-contraction, teach you how to contract these muscles and provide progressive exercises to strengthen these deep stabilizing muscles. You can also check out this video by Shawna, who takes your through an inner core workout.

Easing Your Neck and Shoulder Tension

The neck and shoulders are often the victims of stress and pain.  Although there are multiple potential causes of neck and shoulder pain, symptoms are frequently the result of structural stress caused by our day-to-day activities. For instance, activities such as holding a phone between your shoulder and ear, doing repetitive overhead work (e.g. painting or lifting boxes), and typing at a keyboard that is too high can all cause muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. Additionally, sitting and standing in a poor posture with the head and shoulders forward and upper back slouched causes strain and tension in the muscles. Anxiety and chronic stress can also contribute to this problem as it can cause the body to adopt a self-protection posture with the shoulders raised, jaw clenched and neck jutting forward.

There are things you can do to decrease tension in your neck and shoulders:

1) Maintain good posture throughout the day. You can check out our previous post here for more information.

2) Drink plenty of water. Water is necessary for proper muscle and joint function. Try to drink at least 8, 8oz glasses of water a day.

3) See a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can assess your neck and shoulders to determine the cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan to address any issues.

4) Stretch. Check out our newest video for an easy shoulder and neck yoga sequence that will help to decrease tension and stress.

 

Don’t Get Trapped in the Boom-Bust Cycle

Do you have a persistent injury that just does not seem to go away? Do you get better for a while but are plagued with set backs? Do you ever feel  like you are never 100% recovered from your injury? If so, you might be trapped in the boom-bust cycle.

Chronic injuries are undoubtably very frustrating and rehabilitation can feel painstakingly slow.  People with persistent injuries tend to ‘overdo’ an activity which causes a ‘pain flare’ and results in a set back.  This process is known as the boom-bust cycle.

Boom-Bust Cycle

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So, what is the solution? How can you prevent this boom-bust cycle? Here is some advice:

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We hope this advice will help you avoid the boom-bust cycle and lead you on the path to recovery.

For more information about Kinetic Physiotherapy, visit our website: http://www.kineticphysiotherapy.ca  Contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via e-mail: info@kineticphysiotherapy.ca or phone: 905-637-1414 to set up an appointment.

Successful New Year Resolutions

  • new-years-resolution-for-siteIt is hard to believe that 2014 is already here. With a new year just beginning, many people are thinking about self-improvement and the term “New Year Resolution” has been a popular topic of conversation. Everyone has high hopes of… getting  fit, losing weight, eating better, spending more time with family etc. Although motivation  is high right now, enthusiasm tends to dwindle as the month and year continues. The question is, how do we stay motivated to successfully accomplish our New Year’s Resolutions?  One way to succeed is by creating SMART goals. We use these types of goals in the physiotherapy setting to help people succeed in rehabilitation. However, the same principles can be applied to any goal you have and can help you succeed with your New Year resolution.

A “SMART” goal is:

Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly state exactly what you want to achieve (who, what, where, when, which, why, how). You are more likely to accomplish a specific goal than a general one.
Example of a general goal: Get fit.
Example of a specific goal: Join a gym and work out 3 days a week.

Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you can evaluate when the goal has been met. To determine if your goal is measurable ask questions such as: how much, how many and how will I know when it is accomplished?
Example of a non measurable goal: Get healthy.
Example of a measurable goal: Become more healthy as measured by lowering my blood pressure to a healthy range (120/80 mmHg).

Achievable: Goals should challenge you but be achievable. This requires you to reflect on the strengths, weaknesses and resources that you possess that will enable you to reach your goal.

Realistic: Goals must represent an objective that you are both able and willing to work towards.

Time-Bound: Goals should be grounded within a time frame. This will provide a sense of urgency to help you start working towards your goal.
Example of a goal that is not time-bound: Learn something new.
Example of a time-bound goal: Take a cake decorating class within the next 3 months.

Reflect on your New Year Resolutions. Are they SMART? If not, revise them so that they are. Write your goals down and tell someone to help keep you accountable. We wish you all the best in this New Year and hope these principles will help you succeed with all of your New Year Resolutions.

Leg Flow

Here at Kinetic Physiotherapy, we believe in helping you holistically achieve your health and fitness goals.  Our highly skilled staff are very enthusiastic in helping you recover from and prevent injuries, attain equilibrium in your body, and ensure that you are following through with your rehabilitation program. Because of this we will be creating regular videos  to help you stay healthy and injury free.

For our first video, Shawna guides you through a leg flow series to help increase lower extremity flexibility.  Great for preventing injuries, reducing low back pain, and increasing circulation, energy, and overall wellbeing.

Stay tuned for regular Kinetic Videos!