Hand Arthritis Treatment in Hanford

Physical therapist-led exercises are the best solution for any type of hand arthritis

Despite what you may have read about arthritis, it’s often NOT a debilitating disease.  If you have chronic pain in your hands, you should seek out the expert advice of our therapists…they provide exceptional hand arthritis treatment in Hanford.  Here’s more about the hand and how we can help.

The hand is made up of 27 bones, and the end of each of these bones is covered by a smooth, shiny surface called articular cartilage. This cartilage protects the bones where they meet one another—a joint—and provides them with a smooth surface that allows the bones to slide freely and not come in contact during movement. Articular cartilage usually does a great job at helping these joints to move smoothly, but over time, it can wear away. When this occurs, the condition is called arthritis.

Arthritis is general term that’s used to describe the loss of articular cartilage in one or more joints in the body. Approximately 54 million people are currently affected by arthritis to some extent, making it one of the most common medical conditions in the U.S. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but the two that are seen most often are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, by far the most common type of arthritis overall, involves a gradual wearing away of cartilage in certain joints, which makes them more vulnerable to bone-on-bone contact and damage over time. It typically affects weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, but can also occur in various joints of the hands. Older adults—especially those over the age of 40—are most at risk for developing osteoarthritis, which is primarily related to age-related changes like bones become more dense and less water in the cartilage.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning it’s caused by the body’s own immune system mistakenly destroying healthy cartilage in joints unknown reasons. It can affect any joint of the body, but usually starts in the small joints of the hand. Rheumatoid arthritis also tends to be associated with older age, but unlike osteoarthritis, does not occur due to age-related changes and is usually seen earlier in life. The average age for onset of rheumatoid arthritis is between 30-60, but it’s also seen in younger individuals as well.

Regardless of the type, these and other types of hand arthritis typically lead to a similar set of symptoms, which may include:

  • Severe pain and aching in the hand
  • Weakness and/or loss of range of motion
  • Stiffness, swelling, and/or redness
  • A sensation of “cracking” or “crushing” in the hand joints
  • Increased size or deformity of the hand

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure available for arthritis. Instead, treatment focuses on relieving pain and managing the patient’s underlying condition, and the best way to accomplish this is through physical therapy. By working one-on-one with each patient, your physical therapist can identify the particular type of arthritis that’s present, and then design a personalized treatment program to address your most bothersome symptoms. A typical treatment program for hand arthritis will consist of the following:

  • Manual (hands-on) therapy: may include soft-tissue massage, stretching, and joint mobilizations to reduce pain and improve alignment, mobility, and range of motion
  • Stretching exercises: to improve the flexibility of joints affected by arthritis
  • Strengthening exercises: to build back up strength of the muscles of the hand
  • Modalities: ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice, and/or heat to decrease pain and inflammation of the involved joint

The results of a 2017 study show just how beneficial physical therapist-led exercises can be for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Its conclusion reads:

A hand exercise program is an effective adjunct to current drug management to improve hand function (for rheumatoid arthritis patients)

Arthritis of any sort can truly prove to be a nuisance that interferes with your ability to function normally in everyday life. So if you’re affected by hand arthritis, contact a physical therapist and get started on a road to less pain and better function.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Treatment in Visalia

A course of physical therapy can bring about relief carpal tunnel syndrome

From turning door knobs and driving cars, to picking up children and pointing out stars, we all use our wrists on a nearly constant basis. Sometimes this can lead to tingling and numbness. If you are looking for carpal tunnel syndrome treatment in Visalia, keep reading and we will share with you why seeing one of our physical therapists is a great choice.

The wrist is the converging point where the hand meets the forearm, and it consists of 15 unique bones. Often thought of as a single joint, the wrist is actually made up of three primary joints and several other smaller joints where each of these bones connects with one another. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons further reinforce these connections, and communication is accomplished through a series of nerves. But with such a complex arrangement, there are also many things that can go wrong with the wrist and lead to pain.

The 15 bones that make up the wrist are as follows:

  • 5 long bones in the hand (metacarpals) that connect the fingers to the wrist
  • 8 small bones in the center of the wrist, which are arranged in two rows of four
  • The ends of the 2 bones of the forearm (radius and ulna), which make up the largest joints of the wrist

These bones are connected by numerous ligaments and surrounded by cartilage, which allows for movements and cushion the bones from rubbing against each other. Any of the structures of the wrist can be damaged by extreme movements—like twisting, bending, or a direct impact—that force it beyond its normal range of motion. The result of this damage may be a sprain, strain, fracture, or dislocation, all of which are most commonly seen in sports and other physical activities.

If You Have More than Pain (i.e. tingling and numbness), It Could be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another frequently seen wrist condition is called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The carpal tunnel is a space at the base of the palm that contains a number of tendons and the median nerve, which provides sensation to most fingers. If these tendons thicken or any other swelling occurs, this tunnel narrows, which puts pressure on the median nerve and causes CTS. The greatest risk factors for CTS are repetitive hand motions, awkward hand positions, mechanical stress on the palms, and vibration, and symptoms usually start with a burning or tingling sensation, but eventually pain, weakness and/or numbness develop in the hand and wrist, and then radiate up the arm.

Other common wrist-related issues include rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, tendinitis (inflammation of one or more tendons), De Quervain’s tenosynovitis (tendinitis on the thumb side of the wrist), Dupuytren’s contracture (abnormal thickening of tissue between skin and tendons in the palm), and ulnar tunnel syndrome (similar to CTS). All of these conditions have their own unique characteristics and arise for different reasons, but they do share one thing in common: each can be effectively treated with physical therapy.

Despite What You May Have Been Told, Surgery is NOT Your Only Treatment Option

Physical therapists are movement experts that can work with patients to identify the source of their symptoms, and from there, will design a treatment program that’s customized to each patient and based on their personal abilities and goals. This one-on-one approach to treatment has been proven to work because it identifies the patient’s impairments and targets them with a unique set of active interventions meant to reduce their symptoms. The findings of a recent study highlight the effectiveness of a physical therapy intervention for CTS called manual therapy based on neurodynamic techniques. The conclusion reads:

The use of neurodynamic techniques in conservative treatment of mild to moderate forms of CTS has significant therapeutic benefits in the short term

So if you’re dealing with symptoms that might suggest CTS or any other wrist-related problems that are getting in the way of your daily life, physical therapy may be the very solution you’re seeking.

Contact us for more information at (559) 733-2478

Physical Therapy Instead of Opioids For Seniors

Even seniors are at risk for opioid overuse and abuse, but steering towards physical therapy is a much safer option

Pain is the number one reason people seek out medical care, and painful conditions are more common in the U.S. than diabetes, cancer, and heart disease combined. This is one of the driving forces behind the opioid epidemic, which continues to rage on and claim lives in its wake. There were more than 47,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in just 2017 alone, meaning that about 130 people die because of opioids every day.

In thinking about the opioid crisis and who is affected by it, you might have a general picture of the types of individuals who use and abuse these drugs. For most of us, senior citizens are probably not the first group that comes to mind, but the truth is that they are also impacted by the prevalence of opioids in this country in very alarming ways.

Chronic pain is particularly common in seniors, and about 8 in 10 of them struggle with multiple health conditions at once. As a result, many of these seniors are being prescribed opioids to cope with their pain, with the same types of risk for abuse as are seen in other age groups. Two government reports published in 2018 warn that opioid prescriptions for older adults are very high and often associated with a number of negative effects.

Issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a team focused on trends regarding opioid-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits in the senior citizen population. Their findings included the following key points:

  • Opioid-driven complications were the cause of nearly 125,000 hospitalizations and more than 36,000 emergency department visits for seniors in 2015
  • Between 2010-2015, there was a 34% jump in the number of opioid-related inpatient hospital admissions among seniors
  • Nearly 20% of seniors (one in five) filled at least one opioid prescription between 2015-2016, which equated to about 10 million seniors; more than 4 million of these individuals (about 7%) filled prescriptions for four or more opioids, which was characterized as “frequent” use

Why physical therapy is a great alternative to opioids

Whether you’re surprised by it or not, older adults are still at risk for being caught up in the opioid epidemic, which can have some seriously negative consequences. This is why it’s crucial to promote alternatives to opioids in this population, and the best possible option out there is physical therapy. Unlike opioids, which only mask the sensation of pain, physical therapy focuses on identifying its source and helping patients overcome it with a series of carefully designed movements and exercises. And perhaps best of all, physical therapy is universally regarded as a safe intervention with nearly no risk for side effects, and the more sessions that are completed, the better the outcomes are.

So if you’re an older adult that’s currently dealing with pain or you have a loved one that falls into this category, we strongly recommend that you consider physical therapy over opioids as a movement-based strategy that’s proven get to the root of pain and relieve it.

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.