By Meaghan O’Donnell PT, DPT - September 14, 2020
What Should You Do After a Knee Replacement?
Physical therapy, movement, and walking are critical in the first 48 hours after surgery. Research has shown that early mobilization improves long term outcomes with a knee replacement.
A Total Knee Arthoplasty can be a painful surgery however with movement the pain will decrease. Many patients avoid movement right after surgery because their knees hurt, however moving the knee is what helps to decrease inflammation and increase mobility of the new joint. Arteries have pumps that bring blood from the heart to the rest of the body however veins do not have pumps to return the blood to the heart. Muscle contraction is what pumps the blood in the veins back to the heart and why movement after surgery is so critical. Inflammation is common and normal after surgery, it is also what causes pain. The knee is a small area and the added pressure in the knee from inflammation causes increased pain.
So what can I do?
Try performing heel slides, ankle pumps, and elevating your leg to decrease inflammation. Don’t be alarmed if you are in a lot of pain after surgery, this is normal.
Heel slides: laying on your back keep your foot on the ground and bend your knee as much as you can and then straighten your leg out. You may not be able to bend your knee much initially but this will improve with repetitions. You can perform this exercise in bed which makes it easy to perform after surgery.
Ankle pumps: laying down with your legs straight just pump your ankles up towards your nose and back down. You may feel a stretch in your calf or back of the knee. Perform this exercise as many times as possible throughout the day.
Movement is key! Good luck and see you after surgery!
By Hollie Cunningham - September 9, 2020
By Carmen Barwinski - September 3, 2020
What’s the Pain in Your Neck?
With the amazing progressions in technology we have in the world life has become fast paced and focused! Unfortunately, this has also led to an increase of neck pain as well.
Is neck pain normal? What is causing the pain to occur? What can decrease symptoms after they start? How does posture play into neck pain?
Is Neck Pain Normal?
Common, but not normal. Though the majority of the population experience neck pain at some point in their life, neck pain is very avoidable and takes a few minutes of stretching and exercising a day to help decrease aching, soreness, and pain.
What is Causing the Pain to Occur?
Depending on where the neck pain is, the problem could be coming from disk dysfunction, muscle/ligament sprain/strain, overuse, or increased stress.
Degenerative changes can occur with age which decrease the space between each vertebra and can increase pressure on nerves or cause joints to lack the room needed to move comfortably. The muscles/ligaments can become sprained/strained through impacts and/or sudden movements, such as a car accident or fall.
Overuse and increased stress can correlate and become present through bad posture, movement mechanics; including “forward head” posture, “text neck”, always leaning to one side, or carrying a heavy purse/backpack/tool kit on one side. All of these can lead to not just pain in the neck, but down the arms and into the head as well.
What can Decrease Symptoms After They Start?
When it comes to neck pain completing some simple exercises can help improve the flexibility and relieve muscle tension to decrease irritation?
Upper trapezius stretch: Keeping your nose straight forward tilt your ear to your shoulder until a stretch is felt on the side opposite of the head tilt.
Levator scapulae stretch: Rotate your head where you can towards one shoulder, then tilt your chin downward (moving your nose towards your armpit) till a stretch is felt opposite of the head tilt.
Scapular retractions: Keeping your shoulders away from your head squeeze your shoulder blades together, hold and then relax. Do NOT pull out of the movement, just let it relax out to avoid reinforcing bad posture habits.
Speaking of which, check your POSTURE! Keep yourself from letting your chin drift forward or upward and avoid rounding your back out.
Important to remember: consult with a physical therapist or doctor to avoid injuries from occurring further. The best place to start is with posture corrections and setting up your work station ergonomically.
How to Work on Your Posture?
What the picture above is demonstrating is how much stress and pressure goes through your ligaments and muscles in the neck when the typical “tv/desk” posture is assumed. Use strategies to remind yourself to posture up, keeping those shoulders away from your head and chest opened. Some ideas to try would include putting on a colorful bracelet and every time you see it have it be your reminder to stand/sit up tall. This can be extended to anything you see throughout the day; red light, white car, get an email/call/text, etc. Make it so you remember!
Remember to refer to your doctor and physical therapist to collaborate and achieve your best outcome for pain reduction and functionality!
By Jessica Lane, PT, DPT, CLT - August 26, 2020
Lymphedema is unfortunately a disease that is often under recognized and therefore goes untreated. If left untreated, people are at increased risk for other complications and long-term disability.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is chronic swelling that is caused by the build-up of fluid that occurs when the lymphatic system is either faulty or damaged. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.*
What causes Lymphedema?
A lymphatic system can be abnormal at birth. When the system can no longer cope with the demand of lymphatic fluid, it can lead to what we call Primary Lymphedema.
Alternatively, someone can develop Secondary Lymphedema when the lymphatic system has been damaged from some sort of external source. This can be caused by cancer and its related treatments, trauma, surgery, obesity or chronic venous insufficiency.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of Lymphedema?
Symptoms of Lymphedema include a feeling of fullness, tightness or heaviness in the affected arm or leg, achiness or discomfort in the affected arm or leg, poor fitting of clothing or shoes, indentations or pitting in the skin, and changes of the skin such as thickening of the skin.
Is Lymphedema treatable?
Once you have been diagnosed with Lymphedema, it is a lifelong condition that will require continued management. Seeking the help of a physical therapist with provide you the tools necessary to continue self-management.
How can physical therapy help?
Lymphedema treatment is known as complete decongestive therapy or CDT. This would consist of manual massage to help stimulate the lymphatic vessels to improve flow of lymphatic fluid, compression therapy to decrease swelling, exercise, skin care and instructions in self-care.
If you are dealing with uncontrollable swelling in an arm or leg, it is time to reach out to a physical therapist! It is best to find a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT). We can help you manage and control your swelling so you can return to all the activities you love to do!
By Sarah Holmgren - August 19, 2020
Cupping is a not-so-new treatment that has been popularized by Olympic athletes. What is cupping, why does it leave those marks, and what conditions are indicated for its use?
What is cupping?
Cupping is a myofascial release technique that utilizes negative (tension) pressure to reduce pain, promote healing, increase blood flow, improve range of motion, assist recovery, and reduce formation of scar tissue. Dry cupping, which the most utilized form of cupping and the type performed by PEAK Physical Therapists, uses silicone, plastic, or glass cups of various sizes that are placed on the target area and the air within the cup is removed with a pump. This method draws out toxins and cellular waste products from the muscle tissue and deep fascial layers.
When should I get cupping treatment and what does it entail?
Cupping can be a treatment method for a majority of musculoskeletal conditions including, but not limited to:
Pre- or Post- Surgery
Low Back Pain
TMJ Pain or Dysfunction
For the treatment, a single cup or multiple cups may be applied at one time, with the therapist keeping the cup in place for a period of up to 4-5 minutes. The therapist can move the cups along the length of an area of tissue to achieve a greater release (external glide), or having the patient move the affected area with the cups applied (internal glide) to achieve greater self awareness, independence, and functional ability.
What are the marks left after cupping treatment?
The skin reactions left after the cup is removed are due to the movement of blood under the skin. The presentation of color depends on the individual, location of the treatment, and how much stagnation of blood and toxins are present under the tissue. In follow-up treatments the marks will become progressively lighter as the pathogens are systemically removed from the body. These marks often dissipate 1 day to 2 weeks following treatment depending on the technique utilized and are typically not painful to touch. Those who receive cupping treatment often feel an immediate sense of relief.
Many providers at PEAK Physical Therapy utilize myofascial cupping with their patients as a tool in combination with other manual techniques and therapeutic exercise to elicit lasting changes and improve overall functional ability. If you are interested in trying cupping, please call any one of our convenient Denver locations today!