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Managing chronic pain with physical therapy

chronic

Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from pain lasting longer than six months. Chronic, long lasting pain can be due to an injury or conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. People with chronic pain can become less active because of their pain, resulting in decreased muscle flexibility and strength, decreased activity endurance and unbalanced postures. When someone has chronic pain, it can be difficult to know how to start an exercise program safely without aggravating the pain. Exercise should be an important part of everyone’s routine, especially if you have chronic pain. Exercise releases natural endorphins, or brain chemicals, that help improve your mood while also blocking pain signals into the blood stream. Exercise has another pain-reducing effect: it strengthens muscles, helping prevent re-injury and further pain.

This is where physical therapy within the Pain Management Program at Mercy Medical Center can help. Physical therapy starts with an individualized assessment to determine each person’s individual needs. Just as people have different body types, they have different patterns of movement, different alignments and different habits. Physical therapists monitor each individual and develop a program to correct what is causing pain. Most home exercise programs include gentle stretching, strengthening exercises, pain relief exercises and low-impact aerobic conditioning. If you want to learn about water exercise options or transition to a gym exercise routine, physical therapy can help with that, too. Continue Reading »

Birth without fear: the benefits of hypnobirthing

hypnobirthing

There is a plethora of information offered to pregnant women regarding birthing a baby. Friends, family, even strangers feel the need to tell women about their birthing stories. Some of them are unpleasant stories, but many are about strength, peace, support and the hardest but most wonderful event of a woman’s life. No woman ever forgets her birth story.

One increasingly popular way of giving birth is hypnobirthing, a method that focuses on eliminating fear in the birthing process. Fear causes tension, which stops the body from performing a normal physiologic function. When a woman is overwhelmed by fear during childbirth, stress hormones increase the heart rate and force blood to the arms and legs in the “fight or flight” response. With blood concentrated in the arms and legs, less blood circulates to the uterus, causing uterine pain and hindering the natural labor process.

For those interested in hypnobirthing, Barb Krohn, RN, currently teaches a five-class series at Mercy Medical Center. These two-and-half-hour classes teach special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning. Parents-to-be are provided with a CD to teach them self-hypnosis and positive affirmations. Participants in the class also receive a book that outlines the theory of hypnobirthing, suggestions for comfort during labor and special circumstances, and frequently asked questions and answers.

In my years of practice as a certified nurse midwife, I have worked with women who attended hypnobirthing classes, and I have seen these women and their partners focus hard to relax and work with their bodies to birth their baby. The hypnobirthing philosophy and education offered at Mercy Medical Center has been an excellent addition for pregnant women to guide them through their unforgettable birth story.

Register online here.

#GivingTuesday—a celebration of generosity

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First there was Thanksgiving. Then Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now there is  #GivingTuesday, an international movement to celebrate generosity by providing an easy way to give to non-profit organizations in the true spirit of the Christmas season. Both of Affinity Health System’s foundations – Mercy Health Foundation (mmcgift.org) and St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation (affinityhealth.org/stefoundation) – are participating in #GivingTuesday on December 2, 2014.  We are asking our communities to join us in support of two very special projects that will have an immediate local impact.

#GivingTuesday gifts to Mercy Health Foundation will help Oshkosh-area women undergoing cancer treatment by supporting an updated wig boutique at Mercy Medical Center.

“Everybody’s cancer story is different,” Nancy Wilms, a cancer survivor said. “You have to grieve it and experience it your own way. Still, if some of the steps along the way can be improved, it will be a better journey.”

Nancy volunteers in Mercy’s current wig room to improve what she can for others going through cancer now. For the future, Mercy Health Foundation is raising funds to remodel the existing space to provide patients with a welcoming and private area to refresh and receive the assistance they need to feel good about themselves. Continue Reading »

Stay active longer with the ACL Sparing Total Knee replacement

kneereplacement

Are you an active person who wants to stay that way? If you find yourself needing a knee replacement at any point and want to keep your active lifestyle, consider getting the ACL-Sparing Total Knee now available at the Kennedy Center located in Mercy Medical Center.

With a traditional knee replacement surgery, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is almost always removed, even when it’s still healthy. The ACL is a critical ligament in the knee that provides knee and leg stability, and its removal makes staying active after surgery more difficult. Preserving the ACL is important for normal knee function and flexibility, and the ACL-Sparing Total Knee Replacement is highly beneficial to those who want to stay active. This procedure has several important benefits: your knee will have more stability and flexibility; it will feel more like your natural knee, and it will allow you to continue activities that are challenging with a traditional knee replacement. Triple win! Continue Reading »

The videofluoroscopic swallowing study – what is it and who needs it?

vfss

We’ve all had experiences like taking a sip of water and it having it go down the ‘wrong pipe’ or struggling to get our pills down, but what if it happens regularly or is happening more often? Your doctor may suggest that you partake in a videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) to determine what’s happening while you swallow. A swallowing study can determine if medication, speech therapy, certain positioning or a change in the foods you eat will help you improve your ability to eat and drink more safely. Your doctor may recommend a VFSS if you experience:

  • Complaints of food sticking in your throat
  • Frequent coughing or choking on food or liquid
  • Frequent heartburn and/or burning in your throat
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Painful swallowing, or taking extra effort to swallow
  • Weight loss due to not being able to eat
  • Gagging or vomiting while eating

In addition, patients with certain medical diagnoses may need repeated swallowing studies to document changes in their ability to swallow food and liquid. These conditions include:

  • Stroke
  • Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS or advanced Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancers of the head, neck and chest

Continue Reading »

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