Your Complete Nonsurgical Solution for Pain

Book Appointment
Category

Tips

Physical Therapy for Back Pain

Low Back Pain and the Dangers of Slipping on Ice

Low Back Pain and the Dangers of Slipping on Ice

It’s that time of year to be on the look out for slippery ice patches!

When you lose your balance on an icy or slippery surface, your nervous system triggers an automatic reflex response to prevent you from falling. Part of this response involves a protective tensing up of the postural muscles within your spine and trunk.

This sudden increase in muscle tension can damage spinal muscle fibers and in some cases may lead to misalignments of vertebral joints or disc injuries (herniation or bulge). In this way, you can “pull” your lower back even if you manage to keep yourself from falling.

Of course, the trauma, force, and aberrant movement associated with a true fall may be more than enough to cause an acute muscle strain, as well.

Fall or no fall, a muscle strain or spasm can be quite uncomfortable. Signs and symptoms of a lower back muscle strain include tenderness, stiffness, and pain described as either dull, achy, or occasionally sharp with certain movements. Your tolerance to movement, including shoveling and other winter-related activities, may be low and will ultimately depend on the severity of your muscle strain.

How Our Ramsey Pain Management Team Can Help Your Back Heal

Acute injuries like a fall-related lower back strain may go away on their own. Without seeking professional help, you run the risk of leaving issues unresolved, including joint misalignments and scar tissue formation.

When people come to see us for treatment of a spinal muscle strain, our team uses a variety of non-invasive procedures to help control inflammation, facilitate tissue healing, and restore normal spinal mobility. These services include:

We also can run diagnostic imaging to rule out fractures, disc injuries, and other problems.

Once the acute stage of an injury has passed, our doctors and physical therapists can help you regain necessary strength and stamina within your postural muscles and reduce your risk of recurring symptoms.

Helpful Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Slipping on Ice This Winter

When it comes to accident-related injuries, the only thing better than treatment is prevention. The following tips can help you stay safe no matter how frightful the weather is outside:

  • Always wear sturdy boots when walking outdoors.
  • Shovel your driveway, sidewalks, and outdoor access ways around your home, and be sure to use sand, salt, or other forms of de-icer.
  • Avoid walking over ice whenever possible, and always hold a railing when negotiating outdoor stairs.
  • If you can’t avoid walking on ice, take short and slow steps instead, and consider holding your arms out in a T (as if walking on a balance beam).
  • If you do fall, see if you can fall more “safely” by tucking your chin into your chest, landing on your buttocks, and keeping your arms close to your side (wrists get broken so frequently during slips and trips there’s actually an acronym for the specific mechanism of injury: FOOSH, or fall on an outstretched hand).

Are you prepared to keep your back healthy this winter season? Call our Ramsey pain management team today at (201) 962-9199 to schedule a consultation or to learn more about the services we offer.

5 Back Safety Tips During the Fall & Winter Season

5 Back Safety Tips During the Fall & Winter Season

5 Back Safety Tips During the Fall & Winter Season

The fall and winter months offer tons of leisure and recreational activities. Here are 5 ways to make sure your back stays healthy enough to enjoy them:

1. Use good body mechanics.

What do you need for a successful morning of snow shoveling? Try a good pair of gloves, proper layers, sturdy boots, and good movement mechanics!

Excessive bending, lifting, and twisting can strain your back and put you at risk for injuries like muscle strains, joint subluxations, and disc herniations. Here are a few quick pointers:

  • Warm up first, and take breaks throughout.
  • Push (with a neutral spine) rather than lift as much as possible.
  • Don’t overload your shovel, and walk to where you want to dump the snow (rather than throwing it).
  • Bend with your knees and hips, not your back.
  • Engage your abs.

2. Keep exercising!

Cold weather and less daylight makes it tempting to snuggle up on the couch. But our Ramsey team challenges you to stay active throughout the winter months.

Why? Being sedentary is one of the biggest causes of and risk factors for back pain. Appropriate exercise helps keeps postural muscles strong and enduring, blood flow circulating, and can even bolster your immune system.

Also keep in mind that if you’re participating in more intense seasonal sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and skating, be sure to warm-up well and use properly-fitting equipment.

3. Move with caution.

Black ice, wet snow, and salt and sand can make surfaces more slippery during the fall and winter months. So, use caution when walking around town.

Give yourself extra time to get to places in order to avoid the temptation of running or rushing, wear appropriate footwear, and always use handrails when going up or down stairs to help you avoid an accidental trip and fall. If you’re a runner, you may need to sub the street with the treadmill or switch to some other low impact indoor exercise like spinning, swimming, or stair climbing.

While these few tips may seem like common sense, it’s pretty amazing just how easily we can take for granted our ability to move around in our day-to-day lives! That tiny effort it takes to move with care can really make a difference in your back health.

4. Stay hydrated.

The cold dry air tends to dehydrate our bodies, and we need adequate hydration in order to keep our tissues pliable and healthy. Drink plenty of water throughout the day (at least half your body weight in fluid ounces, and more if you’re highly active).

5. See a professional if your back is bothering you.

Here in Northern New Jersey, our Ramsey orthopedic and physical therapy team at Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine is ready for a fun and healthy fall and winter season. If you’ve been dealing with a nagging back injury, or have any concerns about your spinal health as we enter the fall and winter season, now is the perfect time of year to schedule an appointment with one of our Ramsey pain management doctors.

Planning on having a healthy back for the holidays? We are too! Call our Ramsey pain management team at (201) 962-9199 to schedule your initial consultation.

Physical Therapy Office Ramsey NJ

What to Expect From Your First PT Visit

What to Expect From Your First PT Visit

 

Physical therapy (PT) is a diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative branch of healthcare that uses a variety of non-invasive and drug-free techniques and tools to facilitate healing primarily within the musculoskeletal and neurological systems.

Physical therapists are licensed and board-certified clinicians who have extensive education and training. Most physical therapists are now achieving doctorate-level degrees prior to clinical practice (Doctor of Physical Therapy), and many go on to specialize in the study and treatment of specific diseases or patient populations.

Physical therapists use both manual techniques (such as joint mobilizations and manipulations, soft tissue massage, and active release technique) as well as physical modalities (like heat, cold laser therapy, electrical stimulation, kinesio tape, and ultrasound) to facilitate healing, whether a person is in an acute, subacute, or chronic stage of injury. Physical therapy also relies heavily on the active participation of the patient through the use of therapeutic exercises and stretches in order to improve function, relieve symptoms, and prevent recurring injuries.

So, what does this all mean for you? At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine, serving Ramsey NJ and surrounding communities in and around Bergen County, our physical therapy team is confident that we can help you feel better, move better, and maximize your health and well-being! If you’ve been thinking about scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist in Ramsey, we invite you to keep reading to find out what to expect during your first visit and what you should do to prepare for your appointment.

 

What to Expect at Your First PT Visit

 

The initial PT exam is an important time for you and your physical therapist. Here are a few specific things to expect during your first visit:

  • We’ll ask you a variety of questions to get a full picture of your past and current health history, including what your symptoms are and what makes your symptoms better or worse.
  • We’ll analyze your overall posture and movement to screen for any contributing factors and guide our exam.
  • We’ll perform a variety of specific tests and measures to help diagnose and/or confirm what’s causing your symptoms. Tests and measures may include vital signs, muscle strength, joint mobility, reflexes, sensation, and special tests designed to rule in or out specific injuries.
  • Based on the results of our findings, we’ll devise an appropriate course of treatment that will be a best fit for your individual needs. We may also give you some “homework” to do (e.g., stretches or exercises to perform, activities to avoid, etc.) and schedule your next appointment.

 

How to Prepare for Your Next Physical Therapy Appointment in Ramsey, NJ

 

Once you’ve booked a PT appointment at our Ramsey, NJ pain management clinic, the first thing you should do is consider downloading and filling out a new patient form. This will help speed up the intake process and provide our physical therapists with valuable information about your current health.

We recommend that you aim to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early to your appointment. This way, you don’t have to rush and you’ll have time to fill out any additional paperwork, stop by the bathroom, or simply relax before the initial examination begins.

Lastly, we also recommend that you wear loose and comfortable clothing as well as supportive shoes.

 

Looking for PT in Northern New Jersey? Book an Appointment at Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine Today

 

Wondering if physical therapy can help you recover from an acute or chronic injury? Contact the team at Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine today. We’d be honored to set you up for an appointment with one of our experienced physical therapists. If you have other questions about your condition, you can also schedule a consult with one of our pain management doctors, Dr. Steven Ferrer or Dr. Kevin McElroy. We pledge not to let your questions and concerns go unanswered!

 

To schedule an appointment in Ramsey today, call (201) 962-9199 now.

Preventing & Treating Back Injuries & Pain at the Gym

Low Back Pain: Diagnosis and Treatment

Low Back Pain: Diagnosis and Treatment

 

Back pain doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of suffering. Most causes of back pain can be treated nonsurgically with excellent results. That’s why we’re happy to present this information – in hopes that it will help you live pain free.


If you struggle with low back pain, you’re in good company. Research suggests that 70-80% of the population will experience at least one episode of low back pain over the course of their lifetime. Plus, it’s been listed as one of the top causes of disability and missed work, and can affect people of all ages – though the majority of people who suffer from low back pain tend to be between the ages of 35 and 55, and men seem to be more likely to develop back pain. Other known risk factors include stress and poor coping skills, depression, obesity, smoking, and poor posture or body mechanics.

Episodes of low back pain can resolve on their own, however if left untreated it’s more likely that back pain will recur or develop into a chronic problem. While some people ultimately require surgery to resolve their symptoms, it’s generally recommended that most should explore conservative treatment options first. At our pain management clinic, we offer a variety of non-surgical options including physical therapy, massage therapy, and injections. Our treatment options have made a significant impact on our patients’ function and quality of life, without exposing them to the added risks inherent with invasive surgical procedures.

Diagnosing Low Back Pain: Top Symptoms & Underlying Causes
Low back pain is not a single disease process. Instead, doctors and researchers think of it more like a syndrome that comes with a broad range of symptoms. These symptoms can vary widely from person to person, but the ones most commonly reported by people who suffer from acute or chronic low back pain include:

  • Pain in the lower back, often described as dull, throbbing, aching, or even sharp with certain movements
  • Lower back stiffness
  • Pain that can radiate down into the buttocks, hips, and one or both legs (often described as dull, searing, burning, or throbbing)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Decreased activity tolerance
  • Difficulty sleeping

In many cases, the exact underlying cause of a person’s low back pain symptoms is not always obvious. Interestingly, this is not necessarily a barrier to healing. Current evidence from physical therapy research suggests that designing a treatment plan based on symptoms rather than diagnosis can significantly improve outcomes and reduce disability. This is especially important for those patients who have inconclusive diagnostic results that don’t paint a clear picture of what’s really going on.

That said, it’s still worthwhile to identify the underlying cause a person’s low back pain when possible. Common ways to diagnose a low back problem include imaging studies (like an X-ray or MRI), nerve conduction velocity tests, and special tests performed during a physical exam. Results of these tests may identify one or more unique conditions, the most common of which include:

  • Muscle spasm or strain: damage and inflammation to a spinal muscle, often due to trauma or as a compensation of an underlying injury
  • Ligament sprain: damage and inflammation to a spinal ligament, which holds bones together
  • Disc bulge or herniation: misalignment or damage to one or more intervertebral spinal discs
  • Arthritis: degenerative and inflammatory condition affect joints
  • Stenosis: narrowing of spinal canal
  • Sciatica: pinching and inflammation of the sciatic nerve
  • Scoliosis: an abnormal curve of the spine

Non-Surgical Solutions to Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain
Deciding to undergo surgery is a big deal and requires a lot of consideration and input from your medical doctor, your surgeon, yourself, and even your loved ones. Back surgery is generally only recommended if a person’s back pain has not improved after extensive conservative treatment, and if a specific diagnosis is available. Studies also suggest that people who have wide reaching symptoms – like pain extending into their legs – tend to do better after surgery compared to people with symptoms only in their back.
At our clinic, we believe that surgery should generally be considered a last resort, and we offer several non-surgical options for people struggling with low back pain. This includes:

  • Physical Therapy: We have a staff of board-certified physical therapists who offer a variety of therapeutic options. These may include corrective exercises to increase the strength, flexibility, and endurance of your postural muscles; spinal decompression and joint mobilizations to reduce pressure on spinal discs and nerves; modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and ice to relieve pain and inflammation; and body mechanics and postural re-training to prevent recurrence.
  • Massage Therapy: Our licensed massage therapists promote healing by relaxing muscle spasms, mobilizing soft tissue, and increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage around the low back. Massage therapy also has a positive and calming effect on the brain, which can promote better sleep, stress relief, and improved mood.
  • Injections: Steroids are a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. When injected into your spine, these steroids can significantly reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Not only can this relieve your symptoms, but it can also allow you to participate more with your physical therapy, further maximizing your functional outcomes.

Are You Ready to Take “Back” Your Health?

We are a comprehensive Pain Management and Sports Medicine clinic offering non-surgical solutions to low back pain and other causes of dysfunction for the people of Ramsey, NJ and surrounding communities in Bergen County and NYC. If you or a loved one is struggling with low back pain, call our staff today to request an appointment or to learn more about our services. We look forward to working with you, and helping you live pain free!

Tips for Exercising Workouts at Home

Tips for Exercising at Home

Tips for Exercising at Home

 

Numerous studies have confirmed the benefits of incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Working out for just 20 – 45 minutes each day can lead to tremendous improvements in your health, wellbeing and weight loss. But that doesn’t mean you need a gym membership to reap these benefits – there are many ways that you can maximise your potential to exercise in your own home.

Below are some tips and motivations to keep you on the right track!

Be consistent

An important attribute to a successful exercise regime is consistency. No exercise program in the world will work if you don’t do it consistently. This also helps you to stay focused on the mind-set of exercising, reducing the risk of giving up or procrastinating.

Follow an effective exercise regime

The top three suggestions by The American Council on Exercise are strength training, interval training, and increased cardio/aerobic exercise. Creating a healthy balance of these activities, is an important part of following an effective regime. If you’re just starting, or if you are looking for suggestions of what kinds of exercise to work into your routine, one of our doctors or sports medicine specialists in our Ramsey, NJ medical facility will be able to demonstrate the exercises that are best for you and your goals.

Set realistic goals

Don’t worry if you can’t run a marathon from the get go. Make a decision to start small and work your way up. Consider starting with a 15 minute walk each day (stretch first!), and then add time, distance, and intensity from there.

Use the buddy system

Working out with a friend who also wants to take part in exercise will motivate you to achieve your goals. This technique means you can encourage each other and strengthen your relationship at the same time.

Find an plan that fits within your life

Make sure that your exercise regime fits around your everyday life, without being too inconvenient or complicated. For example, this may be as simple as fitting in some simple floor exercises before you leave for work in a morning, or adding in some leg lifts while you brush your teeth.

Stay positive

It is important to stay happy in order to maintain your motivation. This can be achieved by participating in activities that you enjoy, and avoiding those that you don’t. For example, if you hate weights, you might want to try elastic bands. If the treadmill doesn’t suit you, you might want to try an elliptical or rowing machine to stay in shape.

Keep track of your body clock

To maximise the benefits you get from your workouts, try to exercise at the time of day when you have the most energy. If you are a morning person, consider scheduling your exercise in the AM. This type of activity will mean you achieve the most out of the effort you put in.

Ask a professional

When you are first getting started, consider seeking the advice of a professional. A physical therapist or a specialist in sports medicine can help you perfect your exercise form, and they can tell you what types of exercises will help you get the most out of your workout. Because of our team approach, we have both kinds of specialists (and more!) under one roof.

Get inspired

Fitness is a state of mind. Stay focused and inspired by watching videos, reading stories and blogs about people who have been successful in their exercise regime. Inspiration to succeed is everywhere!

Be patient

There will inevitably be ups and downs as part of your exercise routine, but remember to stay patient. It may take time before you start to achieve solid results, but your patience and persistence will be well worth it.

We hope you found these tips helpful. To learn more about how to effectively exercise at home, talk to one of our medical specialists at Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine today by calling (201) 962-9199.