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How dry needling aids physical therapy treatment


When we overexert ourselves and damage our tissues, pain is usually an indication that it may be time to seek medical attention. If you’re suffering from a musculoskeletal injury—injury to the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves—physical therapy may be your best option for full recovery.

Musculoskeletal injuries can be caused by actions as simple as falls or direct hits to the muscles, and include fractures, sprains and dislocations. One physical therapy treatment that is growing in popularity for these injuries is dry needling. Dry needling uses a thin needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissues to decrease pain and restore full range of movement. I tell my patients to imagine a physical therapist placing a needle directly into their muscles’ “knots” to loosen them and promote tissue healing.

Dry needling is appropriate for treatment of numerous diagnoses ranging from acute injuries to chronic conditions, and can be performed on individuals of all ages. Some of the benefits include:

  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased movement impairments
  • Increased blood flow to tissues
  • Increased muscle relaxation
  • Decreased banding (tightness) in muscles, allowing the muscle to contract with less pain
  • Decreased inflammation in the tissues

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How to prevent baseball injuries


When the topic of athletic injuries comes up, baseball isn’t often high on the list of concerns due to its lack of physical contact between players. There are, however, risks of sprains, strains tears and soreness for baseball players of any age or level. Below are several tips on how to avoid the most common mishaps while playing America’s pastime.

Preserve your arms and shoulders
The most obvious risk of injury in baseball is the overuse of arms and shoulders. This can result in shoulder fatigue and tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), especially for pitchers and particularly when pitching curveballs and sliders, which put more stress on the elbow. Fatigue and inflammation can be avoided by keeping track of how many and what kinds of pitches are being thrown, whether it’s during practice, warm-ups or during the game.

It’s also important to be mindful of how many games are being played per season. It’s not uncommon for players today to participate in leagues, regular season games or travel teams all year round; resting for part of the year, however, can mean more years of overall play. Continue Reading »

Stay active longer with the ACL Sparing Total Knee replacement


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 »

Doctor, when can I drive?


Your provider realizes that driving a car is a necessity of everyday life for many people. So when something happens—whether it’s a flat tire or a fractured leg—drivers want it fixed quickly so they can get back on the road again.

With this in mind, patients must realize that all injuries and procedures can alter one’s ability to drive. Braking and accelerating require coordinated activity at the hip, knee and ankle. Steering and shifting require use of the shoulder, elbow and wrist. Sitting upright and watching the road requires good spine function. As we see it, driving requires total body coordination.

Based on the available studies, patients who sustain major lower extremity fractures should delay driving the longest, but nearly every orthopedic procedure will have some impact on a patient’s ability to drive safely. The decision to resume driving should be individualized, as everyone’s body heals at different rates. Patients and their doctors need to talk early on about what impact the procedure may have on driving skills and, after the surgery, how the recovery is proceeding. For elective procedures, driving discussions should take place when the decision to schedule surgery is made.

Most studies have considered emergency braking to be the critical test that allows a patient to return to driving without posing a risk to others, but several other factors must be considered: Continue Reading »

Knee exercises to help prevent basketball injuries


ACL injuries are more common in female athletes than in male athletes, at a ratio of around 8-to-1. That may seem discouraging for women athletes, but there is good news! There are specific sets of ACL-protective exercises that can be incorporated into practices to reduce the number of injuries. The Affinity Orthopedics & Sports Medicine departments have videos that demonstrate these exercises to reduce injury risk, and most school athletic trainers are well versed in describing these exercises. Other common injuries in basketball include kneecap dislocations, meniscus tears, hamstring/groin pulls and tendinitis. The plan below will outline how to best avoid these problems.

First, I’ll discuss a few facts about knee injuries and basketball, then a few warm-up exercises important for most running, cutting and jumping sports, followed by a number of dynamic exercises to prevent injuries to the knee. Finally, I’ll end with a summary of lower extremity exercises to avoid. Keep in mind that basketball practices should begin with light cardio and dynamic stretching before heavy competitive maneuvers are added. Static stretching is, in general, best added at the end of a practice to keep muscle fibers as responsive as possible during play. Continue Reading »

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