Alison\’s Physical Therapy Blog

Back pain advice from a physical therapist

Basic MRI information…

Posted by Alison on September 18, 2006

I just wanted to put up a little basic information about the purpose of MRI’s and other investigations which can be done in addition to more standard proceedures (ie – xrays). Many of my patients have an injury and want to know why the doctor only ordered xrays when they think they should have an MRI. Xrays will show only the bones – no soft tissue. Therefore x-rays will only show a fracture, dislocation or other bony injury. X-rays will show the spaces where the discs in the spine are but not the actual discs – whatever anyone may tell you, a “slipped disc” cannot be seen on an xray. Probably 80-90% of people will recover from their injuries without needing surgery or any other intervention. In most cases, the doctor will rule out a fracture and then send the patient to therapy to try conservative treatment first. If the PT doesn’t help or if the therapist notices any other unusual symptoms, an MRI will be ordered at that time. Usually this is 2-3 weeks from the original injury. Give your symptoms a chance to heal by themselves before making an ass out of yourself and demanding unnecessary tests. If you don’t get better, by all means, ask for additional investigations but give nature a chance first.


Posted in Back pain, Blogroll, exercise, health, physical therapy, PT tips, RSS Feeds, Uncategorized | 85 Comments »

Exercise Tips

Posted by Alison on September 15, 2006

I took some of my own advice with my workout this morning and I put on my heart rate monitor while I exercised. I have a tendency to overdo things in the gym and I wanted to see just how hard I have to work on the treadmill to maintain my heart rate in the desired range. For those of you who don’t know the formula – your maximum heart rate is 220-your age. Then, to improve cardio fitness, you should be at 85% of your max and for increased fat burning, you should be around 70%. I adjusted the speed and incline of the treadmill every couple of minutes so that I stayed in the right range and I burned 700 calories in an hour, broke out a good sweat but didn’t feel like I was about to pass out!!!

I’ve added a link for the heart rate monitor I use at the side of this page -check it out and see if you like it…works great for me…. 

Have a great day…..

Posted in Back pain, Blogroll, exercise, health, physical therapy, PT tips, RSS Feeds | 13 Comments »

Functional Capacity Evaluations

Posted by Alison on September 14, 2006

This morning I performed an FCE on a Hispanic man who  had a devastating work injury. An 18-wheeler rolled over his leg causing a traumatic amputation. When I asked him what his goals are as far as work, he replied “I don’t know, I can’t do anything now”. He is a 24 year old, otherwise fit and healthy young man. Whilst I am completely sympathetic to the trauma he has suffered, both mentally and physically, I am still left wondering why people are so willing to just sit back and essentially write off the rest of their lives. He did really well during the FCE testing and was able to lift 30# and demonstrated good upper extremity strength and good eye-hand co-ordination. There are many, many jobs this man could now do. Has no-one sat down and educated him on his options or is he just thinking that he’s going to receive millions of dollars in compensation and he can retire to his yacht on the Cayman Islands?? The moral is – I know it’s life changing – but really – come on – be realistic – look for alternatives and move forward.

Posted in Blogroll, exercise, health, physical therapy, PT tips, RSS Feeds | 10 Comments »

Busy Day..

Posted by Alison on September 8, 2006

Wow – another busy day at work today. It seems there’s no end to the people who hurt themselves at work. Saw a lady today who had a bad back, she’d had a spinal injection and developed a facial drop and partial paralysis afterwards. She was seen urgently by a neurologist who decided she was basically faking….the facial droop was unconvincing and she smiled evenly…what a give away. A private detective got some interesting footage of her running around with her grandchildren without a care in the world!!! Her case was closed and she was sent packing. This is so annoying – 99% of my patients are genuinely injured, well motivated and driven – it is the 1% like this faker that give all the others a bad name. Anyone thinking of faking a work comp injury needs to realize that the doctors and therapists aren’t stupid – these people stick out like a sore thumb. Videos are commonplace and you will look very silly when you are found out….no-one gets rich off a work comp least in Colorado – leave what little money there is for the people who really need it.

Posted in Back pain, Blogroll, exercise, health, physical therapy, RSS Feeds, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Rehab Challenges

Posted by Alison on September 5, 2006

Having been a physical therapist for almost 20 years now, one of the biggest rehab challenges I have seen my patients struggle with is the “why me” mindset. Having a catastrophic accident is life altering – no 2 ways about it – but you have to dedicate yourself to rehab, give it all you’ve got and not sit around moping day after day. It’s the very rare rehab patient who doesn’t have a bad day mentally – but try to stay in control and look forward towards recovering and not backwards to the way things were. Life can be altered, sometimes irreversibly, in a split second – you are dealing with the consequences for months, years or sometimes for the rest of your life. There are plenty of people out there to help you – don’t be afraid to ask for help – a carefully chosen word or two from a trusted professional can make all the difference in your journey.

Posted in Blogroll, exercise, health, Other Health Blogs, physical therapy, PT tips, RSS Feeds, Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

Healthy Lifestyle

Posted by Alison on September 5, 2006

If I have one piece of advice to pass on to you all, it’s to make lifestyle changes that you can live with. It’s no good giving up everything you enjoy – you’ll never stick with it and you’ll spend you whole time thinking about what you’re depriving yourself of. Allow yourself one vice – mine is coffee….I can give up the chocolate, the chips, even the cheesecake but if I don’t have my coffee in the mornings, I’m like a bear with a sore head all day!!!! I get up at 4am to work out before work 4 or 5 days a week, I avoid most of the foods I’m not supposed to eat, but take away my coffee and life loses some of it’s joy for me!! Choose your own vice but endulge with care – a little bit is ok – but don’t go mad. Keep exercising to work off those extra pounds and you’ll be fine.

Posted in Back pain, Blogroll, exercise, health, physical therapy, PT tips, Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Health is everything

Posted by Alison on August 31, 2006

Wow – busy day at work today. I work in a worker’s compensation out patient clinic treating exclusively injured workers. One of my patients lost a leg in an horrific work related accident and has been sinking into a deeper and deeper depression. He told me today that he is on the verge of losing his house as he cannot work and therefore cannot make the payments. He has 5 young kids and his wife cannot work due to the cost of day care. It’s at times like this that I realize that I am very lucky – I have a husband who loves me, 2 great kids a challenging job and a roof over my head – I’ll never complain again…Worker’s comp sucks – the law is written to protect the employer and not the injured worker and it’s not until you get hurt that you realize how the system needs changing. Good luck to all of you going through something similar….I’d love to hear from you.

More news tomorrow……

Posted in Back pain, exercise, health, RSS Feeds, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Back Pain Tip of the day

Posted by Alison on August 29, 2006

Prevent back pain by using a lumbar roll – this will support the lumbar lordosis and maintain the alignment of your entire spine in the normal anatomical position. Lumbar rolls are cheap (don’t pay more than $10) and easy to find. When you buy one, get one with a strap so that you can fix it’s position on your seat so every time you move, it doesn’t end up on the floor. I use a lumbar roll all the time and it really does work…..let me know how it works for you.

Posted in Back pain, health, PT tips, RSS Feeds | 9 Comments »

My Fitness Routine

Posted by Alison on August 28, 2006

I get asked all the time what I do to keep myself in shape – so here goes…

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • 30mins upper body weights
  • 30 minutes lower body
  • 30 minutes cardio

Tuesday, Thursday

  • 60-90 minutes cardio – treadmill walk 4mph, 15% incline 60mins followed by bike or elliptical 30minutes.

This may seem like a lot but I am not one of those lucky people who can eat what they like and still stay thin – all I need to do to gain weight is to walk past a donut!!! Sometimes I don’t even need to be in the same room and just thinking about chocolate will make me gain a couple of pounds!!!
Anyone who wants more specific info about my weights program please just let me know…..

Posted in exercise, health, physical therapy, RSS Feeds | 11 Comments »

Office chair to relieve back pain

Posted by Alison on August 26, 2006

I just found this ball chair and I wanted to share it with you – it’s not the only one on  the market but it is the best one I’ve seen and the best priced. Switch out your regular office chair and try this one for a couple of weeks – it’ll relieve a lot of your pain.

 Click the picture, visit the site and give it a try – let me know how you get along…..

Posted in Back pain, exercise, RSS Feeds | 12 Comments »