Physical therapy goes straight to the source of pain

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By Jessica Sly, Communications Specialist

 

When physical therapists approach a problem, they go straight to the source. By doing this, they don’t just treat the current symptom. They balance the entire body and, sometimes, can completely restore function. Two Henning residents discovered the life-changing effects of this after visiting Erin Boesl, PT, DPT, at Henning Physical Therapy Clinic.

 

Jessica StregePhysical therapy patient receiving treatment.

It was a seemingly ordinary Monday morning when Jessica Strege woke up with a pinched nerve in her neck and left shoulder. She endured the pain for a couple weeks, thinking it would go away on its own, but it soon progressed to numbness and pain in her hand. She called her provider, Amy Severson at the Henning clinic, who referred her to physical therapy.

“Dad and Mom had both seen Erin, and she just did wonders for them,” Jessica said. “So when my arm wouldn’t heal on its own, my dad especially said, ‘You need to go see her.’ My dad is like Erin’s biggest fan.”

After listening to Jessica’s history, Erin started her on postural restoration exercises, which revealed that most of her issues were indeed from poor posture.

When someone has poor posture, their muscles have to compensate in unnatural ways and thus cause problems. Erin helped retrain Jessica’s muscles to have good posture. “She made us blow into balloons,” Jessica recalled. “You’re lying down and you have to concentrate on your breathing and what muscles you’re holding and how your legs are positioned.”

As they worked on Jessica’s posture, they stumbled upon other unresolved pain, and they found that by using physical therapy to treat the problems at the core, many were improved.

“It went from her working on my neck and shoulder to addressing issues that I had been dealing with for probably the last 15 years with my hips and pelvis and my low back,” Jessica said. “It all just kind of fell into place. As soon as one thing was corrected, it helped another thing and another.”

When she finished treatment, Jessica took home the knowledge and exercises to nip poor posture in the bud.

“I don’t have pain every day anymore and I did before. Even before the pinched nerve, my back was just painful every day,” she said. “Whenever I start to feel like something’s out of whack, I go back to some of the things I learned.”

 

Physical therapy patient, Mary Trana, works with Erin Boesel on exercises to relieve her pain.Mary Trana

During a time in her life when she was under significant stress, Mary Trana’s neck stiffened and filled with pain. She sought the advice of a doctor, who told her that physical therapy was her best option. A Henning resident, Mary was pleased to see there were treatment options nearby.

Erin identified the problem and helped Mary ease into exercises and learn how her body functions and moves. It took an entire year for Mary’s neck to regain mobility. “I was just so impressed with how Erin does physical therapy,” she said. “She’s very caring, and she looked at the whole body. The assessment when I came in was head to toe.”

However, about a year later, Mary’s back, which had been plagued by chronic pain since the 1990s, began to get worse. So she asked her doctor to refer her back to Erin. This time, they found that her gluteus muscles weren’t functioning correctly, so they worked together to get them back to their optimal condition. Soon, Mary found the physical balance that she had been missing for so long.

Erin also passed along skills so that Mary could do self-care at home. She tries to complete exercises a couple times a week and can tell if it needs a little extra care.

“For the first time in years, I feel balanced. She just seemed to find the key that helped it,” Mary said. “It still bothers me, but now I feel like I can keep it under control and not live on Ibuprofen all the time. I can’t emphasize enough how much it’s changed my life.”


Could abnormal posture be the source of your pain?

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By Erin Boesl, Physical Therapist, Henning Physical Therapy Clinic

 

The human body is asymmetrical. Our internal organs and bodily systems – neurological, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and vision – are not the same on the left side of the body as they are on the right. Even with this asymmetry, we create balance in how we move.

But sometimes, we can develop postural imbalances. Posture is the way our body is positioned when sitting or standing. Abnormal posture can develop at a young age or through daily, occupational and repetitive work.

Physical Therapist works with a patient on leg exercises.People also often overuse the dominant side of their body. Over time, this can lead to chronic muscle overuse or underuse, inflammation and pain. The pain then leads to other impairments and functional limitations, so we might not be able to complete daily activities.

Physical therapy is a great solution to posture imbalance.

We can perform an evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs.

One of my patients, Jessica Strege, came to me with a pinched nerve in her neck and shoulder, as well as some chronic back pain. I discovered that most of her pain came from abnormal posture that actually stemmed from her diaphragm and pelvis.

Over six weeks, we used exercises to turn on and turn off certain muscles to improve her alignment. When muscles are in the correct resting position, they can begin strengthening more efficiently. After her treatment ended, Jessica said she no longer has pain every day like she did before.

If you have daily pain or postural imbalances, a physical therapist could help you find relief.

 

The following are some examples of imbalances or habits that might indicate bad posture.

 

Imbalances:

  • Asymmetry of the head and face. This means that one side doesn’t mirror the other side.
  • You can turn your head farther to one side.
  • One shoulder is higher than the other (typically left).Physical Therapist works with patient on leg exercises.
  • One shoulder blade protrudes more.
  • You can raise one arm higher than the other.
  • You can reach behind your back farther with one arm.
  • Your ribs protrude more in the front on one side (typically left).
  • Your chest expands more on one side when you breathe.
  • One side of your pelvis is higher.
  • One leg appears longer.
  • One foot turns out more than the other when standing or walking.
  • Your trunk can rotate more to one side than the other.
  • You have scoliosis with a right rib hump.
  • You have overdeveloped back or calf muscles on one side.

 

Faulty habits:

  • Sleeping on one side.
  • Always crossing legs one way while sitting.
  • Putting more weight on one leg when standing (typically right).
  • Turning your head to one side when reading.
  • Always holding a baby on one side.

 

Do you identify with any of these? If the answer is yes, now would be a great time for you to make an appointment with a physical therapist to see how we could help. Tri-County Health Care has rehab clinics in Henning, 218-548-5580; Bertha, 218-924-2250; and Wadena, 218-631-7475.

For more information, click here.

 

Erin with her family posing for a family photo.

Erin and her family.

About the Author: Erin Boesl, Doctor of Physical Therapy, has completed training with the Postural Restoration Institute. She can perform a specialized postural assessment and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your postural asymmetry and dysfunction. Erin has worked for Tri-County Health care for 12 years, most currently at the Henning Physical Therapy Clinic. She is also a wife and mother of four children and resides in Parkers Prairie with her family.