Physical Therapy for Lower Back Pain Instead of Opioids

Seeing a physical therapist early reduces chances of being prescribed addictive opioids

Back pain, especially low back pain, is one of the most common medical problems out there. In fact, if you’ve never experienced low back pain, you’re part of a small minority, and there’s a strong chance you’ll deal with it at some point. The statistics should help put matters in perspective: about 80% of Americans will be affected by low back pain to some degree at least once in their lifetime.

Low back pain can develop over time in a gradual manner or it may come about suddenly. For some, this leads to symptoms on a nearly constant basis, while symptoms only arise every so often for others. Symptoms vary in each individual as well, but typically include the following: pain, tenderness and/or stiffness in the lower back, difficulty with bending, lifting or twisting, weak or tired legs, discomfort in the back while sitting, difficulty standing or standing for extended periods, and pain that spreads to the buttocks or legs.

Short-lived—or acute—low back pain is most common, while pain that lasts for more than three months is considered chronic and requires additional care. Anyone can get low back pain and it can develop for a variety of reasons, but there are certain risk factors that increase one’s chances of getting it. These include older age, poor physical fitness, a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, other diseases like arthritis and cancer, risky occupations that may strain the back, smoking, and depression/anxiety.

For individuals with acute low back pain looking to improve, there is a wide range of options available. These range from simply resting and waiting for the pain to go away on its own, to having surgery to address it in more severe cases. Today, many patients with low back pain are also prescribed opioids by their doctors, which usually provide a “quick fix” for their problem. Unfortunately, opioids don’t really solve the issue, as they only mask the pain temporarily without actually addressing the cause of it. Opioids are also highly addictive and associated with abuse and overuse, as over 45,000 individuals died of an opioid-related overdose in 2017 alone.

Physical therapy, on the other hand, offers a hands-on approach to treating low back pain that actually gets to the heart of the problem and targets it with various interventions that are known to be effective. This is why physical therapy—especially early physical therapy that begins soon after the pain starts—is strongly recommended for patients with low back pain. Following this course can help patients work on improving their condition while also reducing their risk for being prescribed opioids, since physical therapists focus on active treatments and avoiding medications.

A recent study investigated how early physical therapy affects each patient’s use of healthcare resources and chances of being given an opioid prescription, and it concluded with the following:

Early physical therapy for acute low back pain reduces healthcare utilization and cost, reduces opioid use, and may improve healthcare efficiency. This may assist patients, healthcare providers, healthcare systems, and 3rd party payers in making decisions for the treatment of acute low back pain.


Patients with low back pain are therefore encouraged to consult a physical therapist before any other medical professional, and to do so as early as possible. Following this course will increase their chances of experiencing a positive outcome while also avoiding addictive and dangerous opioids.

Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis

Physical therapist-guided exercises are best for patients with knee arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition in which cartilage—the natural cushioning between joints—gradually wears away. Over time, this causes the bones of these joints to rub more closely against one another and leads to symptoms like pain, stiffness, swelling, and a decreased ability to move the joint normally.

OA is the most common form of arthritis, and although it can occur in any joint in the body, it’s seen most often in the knees. Knee OA can also occur at any age, but the risk for developing it increases with older age because the body gradually loses its ability to heal the damaged cartilage. This is why about 10% of men and 13% of women over the age of 60 have knee OA. Being obese or overweight also increases the chances of developing knee OA, since the additional weight puts added pressure on the knees and accelerates the damage to cartilage.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for knee OA, but treatments like physical therapy are strongly recommended to reduce patients’ symptoms and help them function better in their everyday lives as a result. Physical therapy treatment programs typically consist of a number of components, such as education, manual (hands-on) therapy, and pain-relieving interventions like heat/ice and ultrasound, but the most important part of treatment is structured exercises.

Since the muscles of the leg affected by knee OA tend to become weaker and less flexible due to symptoms, a specific set of exercises are needed to target these areas. In particular, stretching and strengthening exercises should be performed for muscles of the calves, hips, and those in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) and the back of the thigh (hamstrings). Completing these exercises will help to better support and stabilize the knee, reduce stiffness, and increase fitness levels, which will allow patients to do more and improve their quality of life in the process.

For these reasons, doctors like general practitioners should be referring patients with knee OA to physical therapy for an appropriate treatment program, which research has shown to be a beneficial approach. But according to a recent study, this is not always the case. The study examined the attitudes and beliefs of 5,000 general practitioners regarding the use of exercise for knee OA patients, and it concluded with the following:

While general practitioners’ attitudes and beliefs regarding exercise for knee OA were generally positive, initiation of exercise was often poorly aligned with current recommendations, and barriers and uncertainties were reported.

These results suggest that although most doctors regard exercise and physical therapy in a positive light, many of them are not referring patients to receive these treatments. The reasons for this are not clear but may be related opioids and other treatments being prescribed, which can actually serve as a barrier to knee OA patients’ road to recovery. This is why individuals who are currently dealing with knee OA should see a physical therapist first, as doing so will lead to a faster start to treatments that are intended to help them improve, without delays or obstacles to their care.

The Best Physical Therapy in Visalia – Why We’re On The Cutting Edge

There are many factors to consider when looking for the best physical therapy in Visalia or Hanford.  Here are four reasons why we feel our physical therapists are some of the best in the Central Valley.

  1. One way to judge a practice and its clinicians is by their online reputation – we have a great reputation on Google
  2. Another is how long the practice has been in business – we’ve been here for almost 40 year.
  3. A third is their academic credentials – our staff have earned doctoral degrees in physical therapy.

Then There’s Another Way and Here’s a Great Example…

Another way to judge the quality of a practice is to ask if they are up-to-date on the latest clinical research.  This means considering new information about physical therapy treatment and how to educate our patients based on the new data, so we can continue to deliver the best care possible.

For this post, we are sharing information from a recent research study that challenges social thoughts on the prevention of lower back pain.  Here’s a question that a recent scientist asked:

What if lifting with what has been considered ‘improper form’ isn’t as bad for the back as most people think?

From the first time you’ve ever had to lift anything of substantial weight and been in the presence of someone else with more experience in the field of lifting, you’ve probably been instructed to use “good form” so you don’t “throw out your back,” or something of the sort.  By now, there’s actually a good chance that you have provided the same advice to others as well, so that they may also benefit from the ideal lifting posture and save themselves from back pain.  But a recently published study has investigated the safety of back posture and found that while most people seem to believe in its importance, the evidence to support it as the best approach to lifting is not that strong.

To review, the “good lifting posture” that most of us are taught and try to practice usually consists of the following:

  • Bending from the knees instead of the waist
  • Lifting primarily with the power of the legs
  • Keeping your back straight and avoiding a “rounded” back
  • Always facing towards the object you intend to lift
  • Keeping the shoulders and hips square

There may be some slight variations to this technique, but most lifting guidelines drill the importance of keeping the back straight and lifting with the legs rather than the back to prevent strain.  Knowing this, a team of researchers conducted a study to investigate how deeply ingrained these beliefs on lifting posture were in the average person and what the research had to say about it all.

To perform the study, researchers recruited individuals who did not have any episodes of low back pain (LBP) in the past year.  This search led to 67 participants being included, 11 of which had experienced LBP at least once in their lives, and the rest of which had no history of it.  These participants were then instructed to complete a series of tests and questionnaires that were designed to gain insight into their thought process regarding lifting posture and safety.

Most participants think lifting with a rounded back is dangerous, but it’s not clear if this is accurate

The results showed that most participants displayed an implicit—or automatic—bias towards thinking that bending and lifting with a “round back” were dangerous behaviors.  This suggests that these individuals had pre-existing beliefs regarding how a person lifts and that it was likely to have a negative impact on them.  Additional analysis found that the beliefs of bad lifting posture being dangerous were also represented explicitly, meaning that participants were aware of this position and held it intentionally, too.

The concept that lifting with a straight back is good and a rounded back is bad comes from prior studies on the topic that eventually became common practice.  But when researchers reviewed this evidence, they found that it was not as strong as might be expected.  The author of one of the original studies later stated that the differences between a straight back and rounded back postures were only minor, while other studies have found no significant difference between the two lifting techniques.  In addition, several other studies have been unable to find a connection between lifting and the development of LBP.

This does not necessarily mean that lifting with either a rounded or straight back is better than the other, but it does suggest that the beliefs most of us have on “proper lifting posture” may not be based a great deal of evidence.  Additional studies on the topic will help us to better understand if there is a connection between lifting and LBP, and if the guidelines on how to lift should be changed.  In the meantime, if you are experiencing LBP or any other type of pain right now, the best choice you can make is to see a physical therapist first and fast.  Doing so will address your issue and get you back to being yourself without pain in no time.

To Recap, to be considered one of the Best Physical Therapy Clinics in Visalia, You Need Stay Up-To-Date

This is why we are always asking questions about how we treat and educate our patients as well as look for new treatments like our laser therapy as an example.

If you are looking for exceptional care in a family-friendly environment, consider seeing one of our physical therapists.  We bet you’ll have a great experience and hope you will be our next success story.

Click here for to learn more about how to contact us to set up an appointment.

 

Arthritis Specialist in Visalia – Why Choose Conservative Care First?

If you have a joint problem, you may be looking for an arthritis specialist in Visalia.  If so, chances are we can help and you should try conservative care first.

Any form of arthritis can be a serious burden for those who suffer from it.  People with arthritis usually have stiff joints and avoid movements that increase pain.  While this avoidance may sound like the most logical way to cope with the pain, it actually makes matters worse.

By not moving arthritic joints, the pain and stiffness only grow more intense, which can lead to a vicious and painful cycle over time.  Unfortunately, many people living with arthritis struggle to maintain physical well being due to the fear of pain, with one study suggesting that 37% of all arthritis patients are classified as inactive.

Since there is no cure for arthritis, the focus of treatment is instead on disease management.  In addition to regular physical activity, there has been a significant amount of recent research to support the use of physical therapy as an effective way to manage the condition.  Physical therapy can help by teaching patients with arthritis and stiffness how to move without further damaging joints, with the goal of being able to perform and maintain normal everyday activities without difficulty.

The primary goal of physical therapy is to increase range of motion (ROM) by a series of careful strategies that are individualized for each patient depending on their needs and abilities.  Most importantly, physical therapy has been found to be beneficial for all patients with arthritis, regardless of their age or the type of arthritis they have, whether that’s rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), or one of its many other forms.

Treatment plans for arthritis will vary from patient to patient, but most will consist of the following:

  • The physical therapist will work with you to identify activities that are most painful and create solutions such as prescribing assistive devices for daily living
  • Improve your body mechanics—how your body moves—and posture, which may often lead to pain if not done properly
  • The therapist will likely perform manual techniques that will stretch and move joints in such a way that will lead to more overall ROM
  • An aerobic exercise program—with your limitations in mind—may also be prescribed, which will increase flexibility and strengthen bones

To highlight just how effective physical therapy can be for arthritis, a powerful review analyzed the findings of 17 studies, all of which evaluated the use of strength exercise—also known as resistance exercise—on patients with knee OA.  The conclusion states:

Resistance exercise is beneficial in terms of reducing pain, alleviating stiffness, and improving physical function in patients with knee OA.

Resistance exercises are one of the many interventions used by physical therapists for these patients, as they can help build back weak muscles to improve functionality.

So if you are dealing with arthritis and feel that it’s holding you back from living your life, we strongly recommend seeing one of our physical therapist first and fast.  They have considerable experience dealing with arthritic joint conditions.

You can click here to visit our contact page then call either one of our offices.

Shoulder Specialist Visalia – About Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Looking for a shoulder specialist in Visalia? We can guide you through every stage of treatment if you adhesive capsulitis

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, with the upper arm bone (humerus) serving as the “ball” and fitting into the “socket” of the shoulder blade (scapula). The bones and other structures of the shoulder are surrounded by a structure called the shoulder capsule, which is made up of strong connective tissue that helps hold the humerus to the scapula. Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, occurs when scar tissue forms within the shoulder capsule. Inflammation of the capsule causes severe pain, inflammation, scarring and a tightening of the shoulder joint, which means there is less room to move the shoulder normally.

Although frozen shoulder affects up to 5% of the population, it’s not entirely clear why it develops. In general, it’s believed that not moving the shoulder joint normally for a long period of time is one of the leading factors, as most people who get frozen shoulder have kept their shoulder immobilized due to a recent injury, surgery, pain or some other condition. People between ages 40-60, women and those with arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other health conditions are also more likely to develop it.

The Stages of Adhesive Capsulitis Development and Resolution

Frozen shoulder usually develops slowly and gets progressively worse with more pain and loss of motion over time. This is typically broken down into four stages:

  • stage 1 consisting of the onset of symptoms, which gradually get worse over 1-3 months.
  • Stage 2 is the “freezing” stage, which generally occurs 3-9 months after symptoms start and is very painful.
  • Stage 3 is the “frozen” stage in which the shoulder becomes even more stiff and difficult to move.
  • Finally, the “thawing” of stage 4 occurs within 12-15 months, in which pain decreases significantly and range of motion begins to improve.

Conservative Care is the Best First Choice

There are a number of treatment options available for frozen shoulder, but physical therapy is one of the best options because it’s effective for addressing symptoms at every stage. The goal of physical therapy is to control pain and improve strength and flexibility to help patients move their shoulder more easily, and treatment will consist of:

  • Heat and/or ice
  • Stretching exercises
  • Manual therapy
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Specific activity training

The benefits of physical therapy for frozen shoulder can be seen in the findings of a recent study, which evaluated if several commonly used physical therapy interventions were effective for patients with this condition. Here are the results:

Adding a structured rotator cuff strengthening program to TENS and joint mobilization in the treatment of frozen shoulder resulted in improvements in pain, range of motion and function. Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27884497

If You Need a Shoulder Expert Here in Visalia, We Provide All Natural Care – No Drugs, Injections, or Surgery

Frozen shoulder is clearly a serious condition that requires a great deal of time to fully recover from, but physical therapy can significantly speed up this process. If you have symptoms of frozen shoulder, contact us for a consultation right away and we can get you started on a treatment program that will safely help you regain your shoulder function.

Physical Therapy for Basketball Injuries

Why Physical Therapy Is Ideal For
Treating And Preventing Any Type Of Basketball Injury

Basketball season is now at full tilt on all levels of play, from youth and recreational leagues all the way up to the NBA. As one of the most popular sports in the country that’s continuing to attract players, more and more athletes are drawn to its fast-paced and competitive nature. The only downside of this increased participation is more basketball-related injuries, but physical therapists have you covered. These medical professionals are experts at treating and preventing all types of basketball injuries.

To play basketball competitively, players must perform with extreme displays of speed, agility and tenacity. Though every position requires a different set of skills, each player on the court needs to run, jump, make quick changes in direction, and accelerate and decelerate with and without the ball. Though these rapid movements are integral to the game, they are also what puts competitive players at risk for injury.

As with other sports, basketball injuries are usually categorized as either traumatic or overuse. Traumatic injuries occur suddenly as the result of a single incident, and include ankle sprains and ACL tears. Ankle sprains are most common and account for 25% of all basketball injuries, making them a major concern for all players. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, take place over time due to excessive stress on a body part without enough time to recover. Some of the most common overuse injuries include patellar tendinitis—or jumper's knee—Osgood-Schlatter disease, Sever’s disease and Achilles tendinitis.

Though each of these injuries results in a different set of symptoms, they all share one thing in common: the power to sideline players for an extended period of time. The good news is that physical therapy can treat any injury experienced on the court and also help players avoid injury in the first place with targeted training. Most physical therapy programs for basketball players will include the following components:

  • Stretching exercises for inflexible areas of the body
  • Strengthening exercises for weak muscles or muscle imbalances
  • Prevention exercises specifically designed to reduce the risk for ankle sprains
  • Manual (hands-on) therapy to address any sore or painful areas
  • Basketball-specific training that mimics the action on the court

Many basketball teams on various levels of play now use injury-prevention programs on a regular basis, often with successful outcomes and fewer injuries. The potential benefits of these programs is highlighted here in the findings of one high-quality study:

Results indicate that prophylactic (protective) programs significantly reduced the incidence of general lower extremity injuries and ankle sprains, yet not ACL ruptures, in basketball athletes

So if you play or coach basketball and are interested in reducing the risk for injury on the hardwood, physical therapy is a smart choice. Contact your local physical therapy clinic for more information or to make an appointment today.

Physical Therapy for Balance Issues

If You’re Dealing With Balance Issues,
Seeing A Physical Therapist Is Your Best Path Forward

As our bodies age, they go through a number of physical and mental changes that usually tend to make life more difficult. One of the more common issues that comes with older age is impaired balance, which can turn otherwise-normal everyday tasks like walking up the stairs into a major challenge. Fortunately for you, physical therapists are experts at identifying and treating any balance disorders that you might have.

A balance disorder or problem exists when an individual has difficulty keeping a stable and upright position when standing, walking or sitting. Older adults are at a much higher risk for having balance disorders than any other age group, as approximately 75% of Americans 70 years and older have “abnormal balance.” This means that one or more aspects of the person’s balance that is in some way misaligned and can cause issues.

Some of the most common factors that influence balance are muscle weakness, joint stiffness, inner ear problems, side effects of certain medications, keeping a sedentary lifestyle (staying seated frequently), or certain medical complications like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis and cognitive diseases. In order for a balance problem to occur, there must be a problem with the person’s vision, the inner ear, the muscular system or proprioception (knowing the position of one’s body), or some combination of these systems.

When balance issues occur, it feels as if the world around these patients is moving when it’s really not. As you can expect, problems with balance can prevent individuals from getting around and performing daily activities, which can lead additional health-related problems in the future. This is where physical therapists come in, as they can address any balance impairments through what’s called vestibular therapy using these strategies:

  • Mobility exercises
  • Gaze-stabilization exercises
  • Balance retraining exercises
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Fall-prevention education

The benefits of vestibular therapy for various conditions have been identified in several studies, and the results of one recent paper showed how it can help improve balance in patients who have suffered a stroke:

This study indicated that vestibular therapy might improve post-stroke patients’ vestibulo-ocular reflex (a measure of balance). Moreover, patients might show improved gait performance at least up to 3 weeks after the vestibular intervention by the sensory reweight to coordinate vestibular input

A balance issue may be a bothersome nuisance to your everyday life, but help is on the way, and it comes in the form of vestibular therapy from a physical therapist. Contact your local physical therapy clinic to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Neck Pain Treatment in Hanford

Neck pain can ruin your concentration, your work, and negatively impact personal relationships.  If you live in nearby and are looking for neck pain treatment in Hanford, here’s some information about how a physical therapist can effectively address your neck pain.

Painful symptoms can strike any region of the spine, and although the most common area affected is the lower back, pain in the upper spine within the neck is also quite common.  This type of pain may not get as much attention as lower back pain, but it can be equally disabling and frustrating.  Fortunately, neck pain can also be successfully treated with a course of physical therapy.

Neck pain is the third most common cause of chronic pain—after back pain and headaches—and its overall prevalence in today’s working population is approximately 45%.  This is about half the prevalence of back pain, which means that for every two people that have back pain, about one will have neck pain.

Most cases of neck pain cases are due to a muscle strain or sprain of tendons or ligaments in the neck or areas that support it.  Some of the more typical causes of neck pain include sleeping on your neck wrong, sitting or standing for prolonged periods with bad posture and carrying a heavy backpack, purse or briefcase.  Neck pain can also develop from conditions like osteoarthritis, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, or from sudden injuries that may cause whiplash or other neck problems.

Its main symptoms include pain that is often worsened by holding or lifting your head in place for long periods, muscle tightness and spasms, decreased ability to move your head and headaches.  For some people, neck pain is also accompanied by upper back or shoulder pain, and pain in the shoulder may actually be referred from the neck.

Physical Therapy is Well Established as a Great First-Line Therapy Option

For individuals with neck pain, regardless of its cause, physical therapy is one of the most proven effective methods to address it.  A typical treatment program for a patient with neck pain will consist of the following components:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Posture training
  • Pain-relieving modalities like ice and heat
  • Functional training
  • Manual (hands-on) therapy

To illustrate how these types of interventions can benefit patients with neck pain, take a look at the findings of a recent study, which compared physical therapy in general to manual therapy, one type of physical therapy treatment commonly used for neck pain:

Patients with neck pain improved in both groups without statistical significantly or clinically relevant differences between the manual therapy and physical therapy groups during one-year follow-up.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28465824

These results show that regardless of whether patients received general physical therapy or manual therapy, they experienced similar improvements in their symptoms.  This is just one of countless studies that points out how physical therapy can help neck pain patients, and should serve as encouragement for you to see your local physical therapist if you are currently dealing with any type of neck pain.  Doing so is likely to be your best option for a overcoming your pain and getting back to a pain-free lifestyle.

Call Us Today & Start Feeling Better Tomorrow  –  Contact Our Hanford Office For More Information

Best Physical Therapy in Visalia

If you are asking yourself the question, “Who provides the best physical therapy near me?” We encourage you to read this post and learn more about us.

Our wide range of personalized services makes us the best physical therapy clinic in the Visalia area.  You can read reviews from our patients here.

At Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy, we understand that when it comes to selecting a physical therapist to treat your injury, you have several options in Visalia and the surrounding area.  This may present a difficult decision for you, but we firmly believe that our wide array of services and our focused attention to individualized patient treatment makes us the best clinic you can choose.

Bacci & Glinn PT has been serving Hanford since 1981, and our Visalia clinic opened up in 2001.  In more than 35 years of experience as a practice, our therapists have seen and effectively treated just about every injury under the sun, and we are fully equipped to figure out the best solution for whatever problem you may be dealing with.  It’s also our experience that allows us to deliver highly successful and cost-effective rehabilitation programs for every patient that walks through our doors.

Our treatment programs emphasize active patient involvement in both pain management and rehabilitation, and our approach is both simple and straightforward.  We aim to design each program with the following components in mind:

  • A detailed initial consultation
  • Thorough patient education
  • Function-based treatment plans
  • Individualized treatment
  • Effective customized home-exercise programs
  • Ongoing communication with patients and referral sources

Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy is a Full-Service Physical Therapy Clinic in Visalia

The physical therapists at Bacci & Glinn PT have extensive training in orthopedics, sports-related injury treatment and work injury management, and we also treat a variety of other injuries and conditions, including headaches, neck/shoulder pain, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

These are some of the more common conditions that we see regularly, but it’s really our specialized services that set us apart from most other physical therapy clinics:

Pediatrics – Our expertise includes the evaluation and treatment of a variety of child and teen orthopedic disorders, including sports injuries, torticollis, scoliosis and post-surgical rehab

LightForce™ Laser Therapy – An effective alternative to drugs and surgery for pain and inflammation. Laser therapy is able to penetrate the deep tissue structures and can treat a wide variety of injuries.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy rehabilitation – A state-of-the-art rehabilitation program for patient’s with diabetic peripheral neuropathy that consists of a twelve-visit rehabilitation care path

Ergonomics – A web-based training program that aims to improve workplace ergonomics and avoid injuries in the process

As you can clearly see, Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy is a cut above the rest when it comes to experience, unique services and dedicated attention to patient care and progress.  So if you’re dealing with an injury and are trying to decide on the best physical therapy clinic in the Visalia area, we strongly encourage you to consider Bacci & Glinn PT.

Give us a call today at (559) 733-2478

We are also in Hanford and have a new office location.