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Sciatica 101: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Sciatica is a type of pain that starts in the lower back and can radiate down the leg. It can be severe and may interfere with your mobility and your ability to do your normal activities. Fortunately, physical therapy can often help to resolve sciatica symptoms, so you can find relief without medication. Could sciatica be responsible for your pain? Here is what you need to know.

What causes sciatica?

Sciatica typically occurs when part of your spine puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs through your lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. Herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and bone spurs can all put pressure on the nerve and trigger sciatica. Sciatica is most common in older adults who experience age-related changes to their spines. Being obese, having an occupation that requires you to move heavy objects or sit for prolonged periods, and having diabetes can all also raise your risk of experiencing sciatica.

What are the symptoms?

The most frequently observed symptom of sciatica is pain in the lower back that goes down one leg. The pain is usually made worse by prolonged periods of sitting. Some people also experience numbness and tingling along the pathway of the sciatic nerve, into the foot. In severe cases, people with sciatica can have difficulty controlling their bladders and bowels.

How is sciatica treated?

Physical therapy can help to relieve sciatica symptoms and reduce the risk of future episodes. Chiropractor care to alleviate the pressure on the nerve may also be helpful. Some people with sciatica also benefit from muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medicines, and steroid injections. For serious cases that aren’t relieved by other remedies, surgery may be necessary.

Sciatica can have a dramatic impact on your life, but Manhattan Total Health is here to help you get back to normal. Get the relief you need with the help of our physical therapists in New York, NY. To schedule a consultation, please call (888) 614-9257.



Tips for Reducing the Pain of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs as the result of wear and tear on the joints. It leads to pain, stiffness, and mobility issues, and without treatment, it can get progressively worse. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to control the symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce the risk of progressive joint damage, including working with a physical therapist on exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your joints. If you’re living with the pain of osteoarthritis, give these tips a try.

Focus on Weight Loss

Although joint damage associated with osteoarthritis can occur for a number of different reasons, including simple, age-related wear and tear, being overweight can contribute to joint issues and exacerbate your symptoms. Excess weight puts additional pressure on your joints that can cause them to wear down more quickly, which causes osteoarthritis to become worse. Losing weight will ease this pressure and reduce the risk of future joint damage.

Get Active

It may seem counterintuitive that what your sore joints are craving is more activity, but in reality, exercise can be tremendously helpful for people with osteoarthritis. Not only can exercise help you control your weight, but it can also help you build strength in the tissue around your joints, which in turn can reduce inflammation. A physical therapist can help you devise an exercise regime that is safe for your joints and that can help you get the results you want.

Try Heat and Ice

Heating pads and hot compresses increase blood flow, allowing oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to flow to areas of pain and stiffness and provide relief. Cold packs and cold compresses minimize swelling and inflammation. Many people with osteoarthritis get relief from using both heat and ice at different times. Experiment to see which kind of therapy helps you control your pain most effectively.

Osteoarthritis doesn’t have to slow you down. At Manhattan Total Health, we offer physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture in New York, NY to help you get the pain relief you need without relying on pain medications. Are you ready to fight back against your osteoarthritis pain? Call (888) 614-9257 to make an appointment.



What to Expect in Physical Therapy After Shoulder Surgery

Patients with severe shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff tears, often work with a physical therapist during an initial course of noninvasive treatment. This is because doctors prefer to treat injuries without resorting to surgery whenever possible. If your injury doesn’t respond well to nonsurgical treatments, you’ll receive a comprehensive rehabilitation plan after your surgery, and this plan will include physical therapy to support your recovery.

Non-Shoulder Movement

Physical therapy can start soon after shoulder surgery, but it won’t involve strenuous activities until you’re further along in the recovery process. Initially, you’ll generate movement in the affected arm, while keeping the shoulder still. This is accomplished with flexing exercises of the wrist and elbow. You can also expect to do pendulum exercises, which involve the following steps:

  • Stand next to a table, placing your unaffected hand on it for support.
  • Bend at the waist so the upper body is parallel to the floor.
  • Let the affected arm hang down naturally.
  • Move your body in a circular fashion to cause the affected arm to move in circles.

Passive Movement

The next stage in your recovery involves passive movement exercises. Passive movement helps keep the shoulder joint flexible, without requiring the area to do any of the work. The physical therapist will gently move your arm in specific ways. Don’t hesitate to give feedback about any discomfort you experience. Later on, you may be shown how to do assisted exercises by yourself, using your unaffected arm to support the other arm.

Range of Motion

When the doctor determines the shoulder is healed enough to generate active movement, you’ll start working on range of motion exercises. Your physical therapist might show you how to do shoulder abduction exercises, and internal and external rotation exercises.

Strength Training

Usually, patients begin gentle strength training exercises at around the same time that they start range of motion exercises. You’ll likely use elastic bands and light dumbbells initially. Once you’re fully recovered, you can begin building strength more aggressively.

At Manhattan Total Health, we firmly believe in the body’s ability to rehabilitate itself with the right program of physiatry, physical therapy, and massage. You can receive complete care for your rotator cuff tear at our locations in New York, NY. Call us today at (888) 614-9257.



Tips for Discussing Your Chronic Pain Symptoms with Your Doctor

Chronic pain is a complex issue, and it requires a team approach. Board-certified physiatrists, physical therapists, and massage therapists may all play a role in your recovery. But before you can get started on your personalized treatment plan, you’ll need to help your doctor understand exactly what you’re experiencing. He or she needs to know about the exact locations, severity, and sensations of pain you feel.

The Location of Your Pain

Chronic pain may be localized, or confined to a specific area, or it can be widespread over a larger area. It’s also possible to have chronic referred pain, which is felt away from the area where it originates. Point out where you feel pain, and explain whether it feels like the pain is right at the surface of your skin, or whether it feels deeper, like bone pain.

The Frequency of Your Symptoms

Your doctor may ask you to keep a written record of when you experience symptoms. Specifically, he or she will need to know:

  • When your symptoms first began
  • Whether you feel pain continuously or intermittently
  • Whether your pain occurs or worsens during specific times or with certain activities
  • How long a pain episode lasts, if the pain is intermittent

The Severity of Your Pain

This is often the most difficult part about describing chronic pain to a doctor. Some patients try to downplay their symptoms, while others exaggerate them for fear of not receiving treatment otherwise. Regardless of how severe your chronic pain is, you can rest assured that your doctor only wants to help you feel well again. To help your doctor understand the severity of your pain, consider the following questions.

  • Does your pain affect the way you move?
  • Do you have to limit your activities or ask for help with tasks?
  • Does your pain get so bad that you hold back tears?
  • Is your pain manageable, but causing you worry and affecting your quality of life?

Additionally, consider using a comparison. Some people describe headaches as feeling like a hammer is pounding on their head, for example.

Manhattan Total Health offers a complete range of sports medicine services in New York, NY, including physiatry. Our board-certified medical doctors will work one-on-one with you to get you back on the path to wellness. Call us today at (888) 614-9257, and check out our website for information about physical therapy and chiropractic care to treat chronic pain.



Could You Benefit from Working with a Personal Trainer?

Personal training sessions are a smart investment for both casual and serious athletes, especially during the injury recovery process. A sports medicine professional will likely refer you to a physical therapist for the initial rehabilitation process. Once you’ve graduated from professional physical therapy, you can move on to work with a personal trainer to get back to your pre-injury condition.

You’ll work one-on-one with your personal trainer to develop a structured program of exercises that target specific muscle groups and your overall physical conditioning. Personal trainers are experts at providing just the right blend of physical challenges and encouraging guidance. Plus, when you work with a personal trainer to improve your strength and flexibility, he or she will make sure you perform the exercises in a way that minimizes your risk of a recurrent injury.

Manhattan Total Health is pleased to offer personal training sessions to our valued patients. Give us a call today at (888) 614-9257 with your questions about our sports medicine services in New


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