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Physical Therapy Overview
There are so many options in our world today when it comes to physical therapy. At Mountain View Pain Center, we specialize in various types of physical therapy to speed our patients’ recoveries and also to maintain an overall healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Our main avenues of PT include the following:
- Electrical Muscle Stimulation
- Cervical and Lumbar Decompression
- Stabilization and Strengthening Stretches and Exercise
- Spinal decompression
- Dry Needling
Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. The impulses are generated by a machine or a transportable TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator) unit and delivered through electrodes on the skin. Our main uses of EMS are for rehabilitative purposes, but more importantly to help strengthen weak and/or overused muscles.
We use four electrodes, which are placed directly onto the skin. As the impulses begin, patients feel a tingling sensation. Upon increasing the intensity of typically one or two isolated muscle groups, the intensity will allow the muscles to both contract and relax. In doing so, the inflammation that has been built up will decrease and as a result the range of motion will increase.
EMS is and will continue to be a mainstay of our physical therapy practice because of its innate ability to modulate a variety of electrical waveforms to comfortably stimulate innervated muscles.
Often times, at MVPC we use Microcurrent therapy in conjunction with EMS. Microcurrent uses extremely low-level electrical currents to treat nerve and muscle pain, inflammation and other health challenges, i.e. arthritis. Every tissue in the human body has a specific electrical frequency, which may be disrupted by injury or disease.
Microcurrent therapy works to restore normal frequencies within the cells and reduce pain and inflammation while increasing normal function. This type of therapy stimulates an increase in ATP, the energy that fuels biochemical functions in the body, and increases protein synthesis. Through this process, blood flow is increased and inflammation is decreased.
Microcurrent works alongside EMS by reducing pain and muscle spasms, as well as increasing range of motion. EMS and Microcurrent therapy are very beneficial for the following conditions: arthritis, back and neck pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, neuropathy, sciatica, slow-healing wounds, and tendon and/or ligament pain
Ultrasound is another modality we use at MVPC to help aide our patients to recovery. Ultrasound is a machine that uses sound waves to generate heat within a specific body part, i.e. the shoulder joint. We use a sound head with gel and rub the sound head in a circular motion on the body part where the specific injury is.
This generates heat in the joint to help with overall blood flow circulation. It will also help to loosen up tissues, tight joints and muscles allowing them to respond better to stretching exercises or other manual techniques after Ultrasound therapy. With increased range of motion and swelling reduction the body part that undergoes the therapy will be ready again for general activities of everyday life.
Cervical and Lumbar Decompression
Spinal decompression is a pivotal treatment for many of our patients. Neck and back pain are one of the most common complaints of individuals in the world today. Whether a patient has cervical, thoracic or lumbar spinal ailments, we address each patient’s diagnosis individually.
When it comes to neck pain, almost all patients with frequent headaches – either migraine or tension – have pain and also postural abnormalities. Whether this pain is from a whiplash injury (car accident or sports related incident) or is a chronic nagging pain, spinal decompression followed by EMS and cold or heat therapy works to bring down the severity of the pain.
Spinal decompression is a type of motorized traction that is prescribed to relieve back pain. It works by gently stretching the spine to change the force and position of the spine itself. Decompression is a process where joints of the lordotic spinal regions (cervical and lumbar) are decompressed and simultaneously aligned in a curved configuration.
Ellipsoidal air cells expand from the lordotic spinal concavity. In doing so, this very unique action separates the joints on the anterior and posterior parts of the vertebral bodies. Additionally, this keeps the discs in a ratio with their natural wedged spacing.
This continual process of expansion (decompression) and contraction of the air cells creates alternating hydration of the intervertebral discs. This treatment, that lasts for 15 to 20 minutes works to mold the spine into a curved shape. Decompression does not remove the normal curve of the spine, so it is not harmful to the natural spinal curves of the human body itself.
Decompression is a nonsurgical treatment that works to take the pressure off the spinal discs and alleviate neck and back pain. While alleviating overall pain, decompression also decreases bulging discs and can tremendously increase alignment in the spine.
Sciatica, bulging, herniated or degenerative discs are a key injury that decompression aims to fix. Over time, negative pressure from this type of therapy can cause bulging or herniated discs to retract. This retraction will promote movement of water, oxygen and nutrient-rich fluids to the discs to speed up the healing process.
Pilates is a form of exercise we have recently implemented into our physical therapy at MVPC. Stabilization and strengthening exercises play a major role in treatment, and Pilates has simply added a bit more of a challenge to our patients’ regimen.
As said by Joseph Pilates – the founder of Pilates, “Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.”
A pivotal part of physical therapy within our office is keeping each patient’s pain level at a minimum while also starting to begin or continue on a regular exercise program. By building strong muscles to support the neck and back we strive to maintain spinal flexibility.
Regular stretching routines increase flexibility and movement of the joints of the body and spine. After five to ten treatments at MVPC we prescribe most all of our patients a stretching and exercise routine. Some of the stabilization exercises include: a spinal twist, quadruped, single knee to chest, and floor bridges.
Many of these exercises and stretches are synonymous with Pilates. Some of the more challenging strengthening exercises include: plank, exercise ball superman, reverse flies, and external rotation (targeting the rotator cuff). Each treatment plan has a target specific phase of exercises whether a patient has cervical, lumbar, or another type of injury in the body.
If a patient has never tried Pilates or is a novice to exercise in general, it is a perfect way to ease the body into a low-impact style of workout. Pilates is a system of movement and exercise designed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates who was a physical therapy pioneer. It is an innovative method designed to realign and balance the body, while promoting maximum muscle strength to increase flexibility, coordination and stamina.
Pilates also decompresses joints and in return this improves circulation throughout the body. Combining floor exercises and Reformer Pilates increases strength, range of motion and allows for a more balanced musculature, which promotes healthy tissue that allows for efficient movement patterns.
Both strengthening and stretching free our patients from poor postural habits, help heal neck, back and other joint problems, and alleviate tension and fatigue for each and everyone’s busy lifestyle. Most patients practice on the Pilates Reformer at MVPC and in doing so the mind, body and spirit all get a workout.
Emphasis is placed on breathing so that the deep abdominal muscles remain fully engaged during every single workout, while the torso, arm and leg movements are performed against the body and spring resistance.
Whether a patient wants to get in shape, rehabilitate an old or new injury, has chronic pain; wants to improve technique for a sport or hobby, or is just looking for a change, Pilates is a phenomenal avenue to achieve these goals.
Living pain free, staying healthy and having a balanced lifestyle is our top priority for our patients at MVPC. Through our various physical therapy treatments, we address each and every patient individually.
When patients stay proactive about their bodies and take the necessary steps towards physical therapy treatment, we target and help to fix all body ailments that hinder each individual’s life.