Osteoporosis is a condition which results in weak and brittle bones- to such degree that a fall or even mild stresses like coughing or bending over may result in a fracture. Bones are living tissues which are continually being broken down and replaced. However, your bones become osteoporotic when the formation of new bone does not keep up with the loss of old bone. This condition typically develops over time without any pain or other major symptoms, and is generally not diagnosed until you have sustained a fracture. The hip, pelvis, upper arm, spine and wrists are the most common structures affected by osteoporosis- related fractures.
How do you know if you have Osteoporosis?
Because there are no obvious early warning signs and symptoms, it is difficult to pre-diagnose osteoporosis. You may be unaware that you have this condition perhaps till you have one of the following:
Sustained a fracture from an incident more easily than you should have- like a simple fall or a bump
A decrease in the height of your spinal vertebrae over time
Change in posture – stooping or bending forwards
Back pain, due to a fractured or collapsed vertebra
Please see your doctor if you experience the following:
If you are over the age of 50 and have sustained a fracture
Sustained a spine, wrist, or hip for the first time
Sustained a fracture more easily than you should have (a simple fall or after a slight bump)
Key factors which may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis include:
Females- particularly post-menopausal Caucasian and Asian women
Over the age of 50
Excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol
Having a smaller or petite body frame
Poor physical activity levels and leading a very sedentary lifestyle
Family history of osteoporosis
Having low levels of vitamin D and poor dietary calcium intake
Decreasing levels of testosterone with ageing in men
Estrogen deficiency in women (irregular periods, early (before turning 40) or post-menopausal, surgical removal of the ovaries)
Use of long-term medication such as thyroid and epilepsy medications, corticosteroids
Having medical conditions such as gastrointestinal diseases; endocrine diseases; rheumatoid arthritis; cancer; and blood disorders
How will you be diagnosed?
Your doctor will review your signs and symptoms, family and medical history. You may be referred on for a specialized X-ray or CT scan to evaluate the bone density to help diagnose osteoporosis. Your bone density will be classified by comparing it to the typical bone density for a person of equivalent gender, size, and age.
How is Osteoporosis treated?
The treatment pathway chosen for the management of this condition is dependent on results of your bone density scan, gender, age, medical history and severity of the condition. Potential treatments for osteoporosis may include exercise, making positive lifestyle changes, vitamin and mineral supplements, and medications. Please consult your doctor for appropriate advice and treatment options.
How can Physiotherapy help?
Your physiotherapist will help you strengthen your bones and your muscles through a personalized and graduated rehabilitation program. Components of this rehabilitation program may include weightbearing aerobic exercises, resistance training using free weights/resistance bands/bodyweight resistance, and exercises to enhance posture, balance and body strength. Your physiotherapist will work with you to find activities that suit your needs and as per your physical activity level.
Although your knee has free movement going forwards and backwards, its’ sideward movements are restricted by the robust collateral ligaments on either sides of your knee. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is situated on the inner part of your knee, but on the outside of your joint. The MCL connects the top of your shinbone (tibia) to the bottom of your femur (thighbone). It helps hold your bones together, provides stability and prevents your knee from bending sideways away from your body.
Injuries to the MCL are from the result of a direct blow to the outer part of your knee- and is most commonly seen in contact sports such as football and soccer. These injures may either over-stretch or cause a tear in the ligament. Whilst surgery may be needed in some severe cases, it is not always the go-to form of management.
Read on to know how physiotherapy can help manage your MCL related-knee pain.
Mechanism of Injury
Injury to the MCL typically occurs when a force drives the lower leg in a sideward direction away from your upper leg and body. Awkwardly landing from a height, twisting of your knee with your foot fixated to the ground, or from a direct blow to the outer part of your knee- most commonly seen in contact sports, are frequent causes of injury to the MCL.
Grading of MCL Injuries
MCL injuries are often graded using the system below:
Grade 1: Regarded as a minor injury- means that the MCL has been overstretched but not torn
Grade 2: Regarded as a moderate injury- means that there is a partial tear in MCL, and presents with some degree of instability in the knee
Grade 3: Regarded as a severe injury- means that the MCL has completely ruptured/torn, and presents with noticeable joint instability
Often 3 MCL injuries are associated with concurrent medial meniscus and ACL ligament damage, which may need surgical intervention. But, the good news is that most MCL injuries may be treated well with conservative physiotherapy management. It usually takes between 2-8 weeks for Grade 1 and 2 MCL injuries to heal, and a graduated rehabilitation programme is highly commended for prevention of future injury.
Signs and Symptoms
Because injury to the MCL may present with similar symptoms as with other knee injuries such as ACL damage, it is vital to have a medical professional such as your physiotherapist evaluate your injury.
Common symptoms of an MCL injury may include:
Tenderness and pain along in the inner part of your knee
Swelling in the knee
Experience catching and locking sensations in the knee joint
A ‘pop’ sound at the time of injury
Actual or feeling of giving way of the knee (often indicate grade 2 or 3 injury)
Your physiotherapist will discuss your injury and its presenting symptoms, past medical history (including a history of any prior knee injuries) and will also undertake a thorough physical examination. During the physical examination, your physiotherapist will assess the structures of your injured knee and compare them to the non-injured side. The range of motion, strength and stability of your knee will be assessed. You may be referred on for imaging such as X-rays and Ultrasounds to help aid the diagnosis. For more severe MCL injuries, and if your symptoms do not resolve with conservative physiotherapy management, you may be referred onto a specialist who may consider referring you for an MRI to get a deeper look at your knee.
The management options for MCL injuries will be dependent on the severity of the injury. In the initial stages of injury, management is focused on controlling swelling and pain, whilst allowing your body to initiate healing processes via inflammation. This is typically achieved through the P.O.L.I.C.E. principles (Protect, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression and Elevation).
Over the counter medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol may be taken to reduce pain. Other stronger painkillers and NSAIDs may be prescribed by your doctor to help reduce swelling and inflammation as well.
After assessing your knee, your physiotherapist will frame a rehabilitation programme with exercises tailored to your needs. The purpose of physiotherapy is to help restore your knee’s range of motion, stability and strength, which in turn will then allow you to safely return to your usual day-to-day and sporting activities as soon as possible.
Management of most MCL injuries usually only involves knee bracing and physiotherapy treatment. However, in some cases, surgery may be recommended. Particularly if there is damage to more than one ligament or structure in your knee or if you continue to experience instability in spite of physiotherapy.
Sitting at a desk working, studying or surfing the net for long hours at a time makes it extremely difficult to maintain proper posture. That’s because our bodies are not designed for hours of idle sitting. So as the clock gets ticking many of us have the tendency lean forward, slouch our shoulders and hunch our backs.
Unfortunately, this increases pressure on multiple areas in your body. This explains why most of us experience pain and stiffness in our neck, shoulders, back and in some cases your tailbone!
So what do I need to do you ask?
The answer is simple, STAND, MOVE AND STRETCH!
It sure does sound easier said than done, especially if you are pressed with time to complete set work tasks. BUT the good news is that stretching or moving is a buildable habit that can be easily implement as you work. It doesn’t take long!
For starters set an alarm to take micro 2–3-minute break for every 20-30 minutes. Use this time to stand up, walk over to a colleague, go for a toilet break, drink water or make yourself tea or a coffee.
Or try out these simple easy stretches while you sit or stand at your desk
So let’s get started!
Sit up tall, relax your shoulders
Cross one leg over the other, then place your opposite elbow on your top thigh.
Take a deep breath and as you exhale slowly twist your body (not your neck) and look over your shoulder.
Hold for 10 seconds.
Slowly return to resting position and repeat on the other side.
Sit tall, set your feet flat on the ground hip-width apart.
Rest your hands behind your hips, then slowly arch your back as you gently tilt your head back.
If you experience pain or discomfort in your neck or tingling in your arms – do this stretch without head tilt.
Hold for 10 seconds, return to start and repeat
Sit up tall with your feet flat on the ground.
Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms straight as you turn your palms up to the ceiling.
Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat
Sit or stand up tall, feet hip width apart
Relax your arms and shoulder, begin by rolling your shoulder backward in a circular motion.
Do this 5 times, repeat forward circles
Sit or stand up tall, with feet planted flat on floor
Slowly begin to roll your head in a clockwise position
Do this 20 seconds, then repeat in a counterclockwise direction
Stand close to wall or a door frame
Place your forearm in a 90-degree angle at shoulder height.
Take one step forward on the leg closest to the wall and slowly rotate your chest away until you feel a stretch across your chest.
Do not hunch or round your shoulders.
Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, repeat
Do this both for both sides
Stand with your legs at hip width apart and straight.
Place your hands on your hips.
Lean your body backwards, trying to arch in the lower back as much as you can, lifting your chest up towards the ceiling.
Try to avoid allowing your hips to swing forwards too far.
Hold this position for 10 seconds, return to start position & repeat 5 times.
Sit on a chair with upright posture
Slowly bend forward to plant your hands on the floor.
Hold for 10 seconds, return to start
SHOULDER BLADE SQUEEZE
Start in an upright position.
Practice bringing your shoulder blades back and down.
Picture gently drawing your shoulder blades towards the centre of your lower back.
This is a subtle movement, ensure you do not over strain your shoulder blades when performing this action.
Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 3-5 times
SHOULDER BLADE STRETCH
Clasp your hands together and hold them in front of your body.
Push your arms as far forward as you can whilst rounding your shoulder blades.
Gently drop your chin down to your chest.
Hold this position while you feel a stretch between your shoulder blades.
Stretch out your arm straight in front of you with your palm facing away
Use your opposite hand to gently pull your palm back
Hold for 5 seconds, repeat with your palm facing your body
Having a fall is dangerous at any age, however, they become more frequent and may most probably result in injury in adults 55 years and over. It is also estimated that in Aotearoa, approximately a third of older adults over the age of 65 sustain a fall every year. This leads to harmful consequences for them, especially for those who live alone. Alongside, sustaining serious injuries, you may face loss of independence, mobility and confidence. But!!! The good news is that there are a number of ways that you can reduce your risk of falling.
So Why Do Older Adults Have Falls?
Poor lower limb strength
Cognitive and functional impairment
Prior and/or ongoing history of falls
Balance or gait disorders
Medication related- especially when using anti-depressants, sedatives, anti-arrhythmics, anti-hypertensives, diuretics, and anti-convulsants
Hazards around your home environment such as loose carpets, slippery surfaces, poor lighting, lack of safety equipment particularly in the bathroom/toilet
Medical conditions such as vertigo, dizziness, diabetes, postural hypotension, drop attacks, and fainting spells
The Vicious Falls Cycle
Older adults who have had a fall may limit what they do because of their loss of self-confidence and fear of falling. Whilst this may seem like the most sensible thing for them to do, it increases their risk of falls. This is because, this leads to a further reduction in muscle strength, coordination and balance. Hence, it is healthier for older adults to keep up with their activities they enjoy as safely as they can, work on improving their muscle strength, coordination and balance, and manage their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and weight under the guidance of their doctor.
Falls prevention tips
Below are some measures you may take to prevent yourself from falling:
Exercise regularly: A number of benefits include better sleep, improved muscle strength, balance and flexibility, increased energy levels, stronger bones, better management of weight, blood sugars and blood pressure. Exercise programs tailored especially for muscle strength and balance have resulted in a reduction in the number of falls and injuries resulting from falls by approximately 30% and 50%. It is advised that you speak to your doctor or physiotherapist before initiating or progressing your exercise levels.
Keeping your vision in check: Vision deficits makes getting around safely a lot harder. Therefore, you should get your eyes checked yearly and wear your contact lenses or glasses with the correct prescription strength.
Being aware of the effects of your medication: As they may have certain side effects that increase your risk of falls. You should review your medications with your doctor for side effects like drowsiness or dizziness.
Reduce hazards at home: Most falls typically take place at home. So be sure to make your home safer by removing tripping hazards, having adequate lighting, and adding in handrails in hallways and bathrooms/toilets.
Taking your time to get up and when moving around- no rushing!
Having a personal medical alarm (please talk to your doctor about how to get one)
Using a night light when you get up at night
Wearing appropriate, supportive and well-fitted shoes
Not using an easily moveable object to stabilise yourself
Using the support of handrails in bathrooms and hallways
Avoiding or being very careful on wet or slippery floors
Appropriately using your walking aids
If You Have Had a Fall
If you sustain a fall, it is vital for you to stay calm.
If you think you are able to get up safely, try to bend your knees, roll to your side, and attempt to get into a 4-point kneeling position. If there is a chair near by or if you are able to crawl towards one, you can use it as support to get yourself up. Please take your time and rest as needed.
If you are unable to get up safely, attempt to crawl or roll towards a phone. You may call out to other members in your household or your neighbour. If you’re at risk of falls, please do consider the use of a personal medical alarm to call out for help when you have a fall.
After a fall, please contact your doctor as soon as you can for an assessment of potential injuries sustained, muscle strength and balance to help prevent future falls. You may be directed to community or in-home sessions to enhance your balance and strength. Please discuss this with your doctors.
Rotator cuff injuries are the most common source of shoulder problems. They can range from minor sprains causing impingement type symptoms, to massive tears resulting in severe loss of function and pain. They commonly occur as a result of acute injuries (sports, falls), chronic overuse (repetitive loading) or due to gradual aging.
Anatomy of shoulder
The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint) is the most mobile joint in the human body. It comprises of the humeral head (top portion of upper arm bone) which fits in the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade) to create a ball and socket configuration. This anatomical configuration results in limited bony contact between the humeral head and the glenoid fossa, which reduces the stability of the joint.
Several passive and active structures stabilize and maintain proper biomechanics of the shoulder joint.
Passive stabilizers include the ligaments, joint capsule, cartilage and the bony concavity of glenoid fossa. Thick cartilage known as labrum lines the glenoid fossa to further deepen the groove by about 50% which is advantageous in stabilizing the shoulder joint during the articulation.
Dynamic stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint is gained from the coordination of rotator cuff muscles that compress the passive structures providing stability and mobility as whole.
The rotator cuff muscles include:
Injury to any or all these four muscles, including the tendons that attach the muscles to bone can result movement dysfunction and severe pain.
Other important joints of the shoulder complex include:
Types of rotator cuff pathology
Tendinitis and Tendinosis
More often than not the term tendinitis and tendinosis are interchangeably used to describe a similar tendon pathology. However, the factor that differentiates the two is the time of injury (acute or chronic).
Tendinitis results from acute injury to the tendon which sets off an inflammatory process characterized by pain, swelling, and redness. On the other hand, tendinosis is a chronic pathology that does not involve an inflammatory process. It is characterized by degeneration of collagen fibers in response to persistent micro-trauma, vascular compromise and aging.
Acute rotator cuff tear
Acute tears result from sudden forceful lifting of the arm against resistance or in an attempt to cushion a fall (for example, heavy lifting or a fall on the shoulder).
Most commonly resulting from occupational or sports requiring excessive repetitive overhead activity.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury are due to the inflammation that accompanies the strain. Swelling that forms within the small space of the joint prevents the normal mechanics of the shoulder, resulting in the clinical picture of pain and decreased range of motion.
Acute rotator cuff tears
Immediate severe localised pain
Reduced and worsening pain with movements
Affects daily activities (personal care, lifting, reaching etc)
Chronic rotator cuff tears
Generalized deep dull ache, sharp onset of pain with movements
Global shoulder weakness
Reduced movements and daily activities (especially moving to the side, reaching behind back)
When to seek medical treatment
See your doctor or a physiotherapist if you experience any of the following symptoms in the shoulder:
Pain, especially pain that does not improve with rest
Swelling, redness or tenderness around the joint
Reduced shoulder movement
For more severe rotator cuff injuries, you may require immediate medical attention.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:
Sudden, severe pain
Visible joint deformity
Inability to move or use your shoulder joint
Sudden swelling, discoloration
To diagnoses an injured rotator cuff, your physiotherapist will begin with a thorough subjective and physical examination of your shoulder.
Your physiotherapist will begin with a thorough subjective assessment inquiring about your signs and symptoms of an acute injury as well as any symptoms that may suggest a more long-term problem.
The physical examination often involves observation to look for muscle wasting, deformities, and/or changes in appearance of the injured shoulder to the unaffected side. Your physiotherapist will also palpate different areas of the shoulder complex to find the area of pain or tenderness. Further examination will involve assessment of movement and strength to establish injury to muscles or tendons.
In addition, your physiotherapist may refer you for imaging tests to diagnosis the cause of your symptoms:
MRI: provides detailed imaging of areas injured (referred by doctors, specialists or surgeons)
Early diagnosis and treatment of a rotator cuff tear may prevent symptoms such as loss of strength and loss of motion from setting in.
Initial treatment of rotator cuff tendinitis involves managing pain and swelling to promote healing. This can be done by:
avoiding activities that cause pain
applying cold packs to your shoulder three to four times per day
taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen
Rehabilitation plays a critical role in both the nonsurgical and surgical treatment of a rotator cuff tear.
When a tear occurs, there is frequently atrophy of the muscles around the arm and loss of motion of the shoulder. An individualized physiotherapy program is necessary to regain strength and improve function in the shoulder.
Physiotherapy will initially consist of passive exercises to help restore range of motion and ease pain.
Once the pain is under control, your physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to help regain strength in your arm and shoulder.
If you have persisting symptoms, your physiotherapist may recommend a steroid injection. This is injected into the tendon to reduce inflammation, which reduces pain.
Surgery is recommended if you have persistent pain or weakness in your shoulder that does not improve with nonsurgical treatment. In which case, your physiotherapist will refer you to surgeon for an opinion of surgical intervention.
Range of movement exercise
Lean forward with one arm hanging freely. Use your unaffected arm to brace against a chair for support.
With your affected side, gently swing the hanging arm from side to side, forward and back, and in a circular motion for 15-20 seconds each direction.
Slowly return to a standing position.
Repeat 4-5 times a day
Shoulder pulley (Flexion)
Put a chair against the door and sit so you are facing away from the door.
Grasp the door pulley handles with both hands.
Pull down on the pulley with your unaffected arm. This will lift your injured arm up over your head. Pull it as high as you can.
DO NOT FORCE THE MOVEMENT. Your affected arm should be relaxed. The unaffected arm does the work.
Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10-15 times, 3 sets.
Three times a day.
Shoulder pulley (Abduction)
Put a chair against the door and sit so you are facing away from the door.
Using door pulleys slowly pull down with your unaffected arm so that your affected arm raises up and to the side without effort.
Your affected arm should be relaxed. The unaffected arm does the work.
Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 10-15 times, 3 sets.
Three times a day.
Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands
Cup the top end of stick with affected hand
Using your unaffected arm hold the stick midway and drive the affected arm forward and up.
Ensure your elbow is straight throughout
Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
Stand upright and hold a stick in both hands
Cup the top end of stick with affected hand
Using your unaffected arm hold the stick midway and drive the affected to the side as high as able.
Ensure your elbow is straight throughout.
Hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
Strengthening exercises with band
Stand on one end of the band while holding the other end with your affected side.
Whilst keeping your elbow straight, lift the band up to 90 degrees to shoulder level.
Hold at the top for 1-2 seconds then lower slowly to starting position.
Here are definitions of common terms for body parts you may hear your doctor or physio use!
Ligaments are cordlike extensions that serve to connect ends of two bones to form a joint. They are made up of strong, durable, slightly elastic bandlike structures comprised of collagen fibres. The structural make up of ligaments is advantageous providing joint stability by limiting excessive movement.
Similar to ligaments, tendons contain densely packed bundles of tough collagen fibres that hold muscles together to the bone. They are located at the ends of every muscle in the human body. Bound together in tight sheaths they are made to withstand tension and transmit forces exerted by the muscle to the bone to cause movement.
Human body is made up of over 600 muscles categorised into three different types – cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscle.
Cardiac muscle – is only found in the walls of the heart. Its contractions help propel blood through the blood vessels to all part of the body.
Smooth muscle – is found mainly in the lining of internal organs (except the heart) including digestive and uninary tract organs, blood vessels. Smooth muscle works to transport substances through the organs by alternately contracting and relaxing.
Skeletal muscles – Skeletal muscles are the most abundant type of muscles that form the flesh of the body. They are attached to bones of the skeleton by tendons. They are responsible for voluntary movements of body. Facial expression, mobility, postural control and breathing are some of the movements we observe when skeletal muscles are subjected to voluntary control.
Skeletal system of the human body is made up of 206 bones. Bones are most involved in providing an architectural framework by providing body shape, support and protection of vital organs and for locomotion. Besides these functions, bone is a reservoir for mineral and fats as a source of stored energy and formation of blood cells. Bones are classified by their shape as long, short, flat and irregular. They are connected by ligaments to form joints.
There are three different types of cartilage found in the human body – hyaline, elastic and fibrocartilage. Hyaline cartilage is the most common cartilage in the human body. It covers the ends of most bones at movable joints, connects ribs to the breastbone, forms the voice-box and nasal passages. It consists of high water content that provides resilience to withstand great compressive forces found predominantly in joints.
The ankle is the most commonly injured joint in sport. This does not exclude other people such as active hikers, beach goers and even your average Sunday stroller. Good news though – your ankle injury is highly likely to be uncomplicated.
It is still vital that your ankle is examined, evaluated and treated early. This will ensure a swift return to activity and prevent further complications.
The road to recovery
Your clinician will ask you some questions related to how you injured your ankle, pain, instability and any past episodes of injury. The earlier you get your ankle checked, the sooner your recovery will begin.
Keeping a mental note of things like initial pain, swelling, ability to walk and balance will go a long way in assisting your clinician to making an accurate diagnosis.
In most cases, initial X – rays are done to rule out broken bones.
Ultrasounds can be used to diagnose some ligament and tendon damage.
MRI is the best form of imaging but this does come at a higher cost and higher exposure to radiation. These are usually done after failed conservative treatment or in instances where pain remains high for longer periods.
A CT scan is helpful with complicated foot and ankle fractures. It will normally be ordered by a specialist surgeon who is planning for an operation.
What to look out for
This is normally a twisting injury that causes a stretch or tear of ligaments surrounding the ankle. Your health care professional will provide you with all the information and tools you need for recovery.
These heal relatively quickly when the outside border of the foot is affected and a little slower when the inside border of the ankle is affected.
You will normally feel pain on certain ankle movements, stiffness in the ankle and experience some swelling and bruising.
These normally present with swelling, bruising and pain initially – although not always. In some cases, it is too painful to put weight on the ankle.
They are usually best confirmed with X – ray and specialist referral.
Management may be surgical or non-surgical depending on the severity and site of the fracture.
Fractures generally take longer to recover compared to sprains.
What treatment to expect
Your healthcare professional will normally initiate techniques to minimise your pain and swelling with rest, ice, compression and elevation.
Analgesia and anti – inflammatory medication may also be used.
Strapping may be used for stability at this stage and can be done by your physiotherapist.
You will also be encouraged to increase movement and begin strengthening.
Balance and proprioceptive exercises will be given to you by your physiotherapist.
Strengthening will continue and running will start soon.
Once running in a linear motion pain free, you will progress to sport specific exercises.
Finally, you will return to sport or previous function such as trekking with a graded program.
Strapping may continue for up to 12 months after your injury in order to prevent re–injury.
What can you do on the day of the injury?
Rest by reducing time spent walking or standing. This will help the ankle to heal.
Ice the ankle for up to 20 minutes every couple of hours.
Compress the ankle with a firm bandage during the day and remove the bandage at night.
Elevate the leg.
Attempt circulatory exercises such as ankle circles and foot pumps (About 10 – 30 repetitions every couple of hours).
Contact your health professional or physiotherapist in order to make appointment for assessment.
If you are unable to stand on your leg or have excruciating pain in the ankle, head on to the local emergency department for immediate investigation.
Remember, your injury will heal and you will recover!
Low back pain is a common health problem which affects up to 80% of the population at some stage in their life.
In New Zealand ACC spends in excess of $130 million a year treating back pain related injuries.
Most back pain occurs between the ages of 25 and 60, and most typically in the 40s.
In an era of smart devices, posture has never been more important or harder to achieve. As technology continues to grow, sitting at a desk on a computer or on our phones is becoming more prevalent at work. Having a sedentary desk job can result in sitting for around 8 hours a day. This position actually increases the load on your spine more than standing. Spinal pressure “sits” around 140mm pressure. This pressure usually does not hurt the back right away however, builds up over time and can even change the structure structure of your spine. So, if you slouch then spinal pressure increases to 190mm; add some weight and you’ve put 275 pounds of pressure on your spine.
A compromised spine constricts your blood vessels and nerves, causing problems with your muscles, discs, and joints. And all of these problems can lead to headaches, fatigue, and even breathing problems. Your back is a delicate machine. When one part falls out of alignment, it can affect everything setting off a domino effect and wreak havoc throughout your back and body.
Below is a graph showing different postures and the pressure it exerts on the spine;
But, remember: While you may feel comfortable and supported in your chair and find a perfect sitting posture, staying in the same position for long periods is not healthy for your spine. Varying your postures by occasionally standing and moving around for at least a few minutes each half hour will help keep your spinal joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments loose and pain free.
Stand Up for Your Spine
If you don’t have a sit-stand desk, you can still combat “sitting disease” and protect your spine. Consider these tips:
Do some work standing at a high table or counter.
Use a lumbar roll behind your back when sitting to improve seated posture
Set a timer on your computer for a stand-and-stretch break every 30 minutes.
Exercise to assist in improving body weight to lessen additional load on the spine
Strengthen the core to provide additional support
The focus is simple: Reduce your sitting throughout the day. But, remember that varying postures is best for your back and neck, so do not go the opposite extreme and never sit. Alternating sitting, standing and movement throughout your day is the best way you can keep your spine safe and body healthy—at work and beyond
Still having back pain?
Schedule an initial assessment with one of our Physiotherapists so they can determine the root of the problem. During this assessment your physiotherapist will be able to decide whether your pain is a source of nerve root irritation, discogenic, postural related, or musculoskeletal. After arriving with the consensus of the problem, we will be able to use many techniques to relieve the back pain. These include: manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and postural recommendations.
Headaches happen for lots of reason and can be cause by several sources- both primary and secondary. Once major “red flags” are ruled out, understanding the type of headache is important in order to have it properly addressed.
A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache arising from a musculoskeletal dysfunction within the cervical spine, and is a disorder that many physiotherapists treat. The main players that are typically involved in generating the pain are the joints, discs, ligaments, nerves and/or muscles found in the upper portion of the neck.
Characteristics of a Cervicogenic Headache:
Pain usually one sided or one side dominant
Pain originates from the back of the neck and radiates along the forehead, orbits around the eye, temple area and ear.
Steady ache or dull, diffuse pain that travels into shoulder region
Limited neck movement especially when turning head
Tenderness to touch at the muscles at the base of the head.
Here are some exercises that would help alleviate your pain:
Cervical side flexion with chin tuck
Sit upright in a chair.
With your shoulders relaxed, relax one arm to your side.
Drop your opposite ear to your shoulder until a stretch is felt.
Using your fingers, tuck your chin in, as to resemble a double chin.
Gently release pressure with your fingers and hold this position.
Relax and repeat
2. Levator stretch Neck stretch – levator scapula
Start in a seated position.
Place the hand of the side you want to stretch down by your side.
Tilt your head forwards and to the opposite side at an angle, as if you are trying to
look at your armpit.
Keeping your back straight and upright, continue to tilt your head down until you
feel a stretch from the base of your skull down into your shoulder blade.
3. Neck stretching (Upper trapezius)
Stand up straight.
Take the hand on the symptomatic side and place it behind your back.
Take your other hand and place it on your head.
Tilt your ear directly down towards your shoulder and hold this position.
You should feel a stretch down the side of your neck.
If you believe you experience Cervicogenic Headaches get in touch with us https://physiofusion.co.nz/ for an in-depth assessment and lets knock out those headaches and decrease you dependence on pain meds
I know how hard it can be when it comes to working out and its really easy to find an excuse to avoid lockdown workouts but it’s not just about staying in shape its also about keeping active to feel mentally strong. We know that exercise does wonders for mental health and at a time where its all uncertainty, anxiety, and a daily dose of doom and gloom, we all need to work out that frustration somewhere!
If you’re struggling with a lack of motivation or negative mindsets there’s only one way to turn it all around: Take ACTION
How much exercise is enough?
You’ve heard the saying something is always better than nothing and that’s the case when it comes to exercise. The current recommendation for adults according to Best Exercises for Health and Weight Loss.org is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week (or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity) with two sessions of strength building activities per week. That’s about 30 minutes of movement, five times per week.
This is a quick full body routine:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core muscles and gently squat down. As you squat, bend from your hips. Keep your back straight as you push your hips back and counterbalance by leaning your torso forwards. Keep your knees aligned with your toes. Your weight should be evenly on your heels and the balls of your feet, not your toes. It might help to image your are trying to sit down in a chair that is too far away from you. Tense your bottom muscles at the bottom of the squat and keep them tense as you straighten back up to the start position.
Start in a seated position. Place your hands on the seat of the chair and use your arms to move yourself forwards towards the front of the chair. You will need to move your feet further forwards to help your stability. From this position, use the strength of your arms to slowly lower your body directly down towards the floor and then raise yourself back up. Do not actually sit on the floor and keep your hands close in beside you. Relax and repeat.
Stand straight with your arms to the side or on your hips. Take a large step forwards on your affected leg, then drop your hips directly down between both feet, bending your hips and knees to a 90 degrees. Push back up to the starting position, and repeat. Make sure you take a large enough step that your front knee does not travel over your foot, and ensure your knee travels directly forwards. Keep your body up straight throughout the movement.
Adopt a plank position insuring your hands are directly beneath your shoulders.
Fully flex one hip and hold.
Extend the bent leg to the rear and repeat the movement pattern on the opposite side