Monday, October 24, 2011

Physical Therapists Help People of All Ages Avoid Sports Injuries

Playing sports safely is crucial to avoiding injuries that can keep you sidelined, say physical therapists from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Despite the documented health benefits of physical activity, such as improved cardiovascular endurance, muscular function, and self-esteem, the potential for sports-related injuries exists. Because physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving motion, they are uniquely qualified to help people reduce their risks for various sports-related injuries.

Foot Pain in Runners
Physical therapists can provide a detailed analysis of your running style, often using a treadmill with special video equipment. Many physical therapists have advanced skills in prescribing proper footwear and orthotics.

To reduce the risk of running-related foot pain, physical therapists suggest starting slowly and increasing your runs in increments, in both distance and speed. Consider incorporating other types of endurance exercises to give your feet a rest and bring better balance to your fitness routine. Individuals with stiff feet and high arches typically need more cushioning in their shoes; those with highly flexible feet (usually low arches) often require a stiffer shoe with more support and control.

Bicycle-Related Injuries
Bicycle-related pain and injuries are commonly associated with poor bike fit. To help minimize the risk of injury, physical therapists recommend frequently changing your hand position and keeping a controlled but relaxed grip on the handlebars. When pedaling, keep your knee slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke and avoid rocking your hips.

Knee pain is common when bicycling. This can be caused by a saddle that is too low, pedaling at a low speed, using quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, or muscle imbalance in the legs. Neck pain, also common, may also be caused by poor handlebar or saddle position. Lower back pain may be caused by inflexible hamstrings, low cadence, using quadriceps muscles too much in pedaling, poor back strength, and too-long or too-low handlebars. To help ensure safety, physical therapists urge cyclists to wear a properly-fitted helmet and use a headlight, bike reflectors, and reflective clothing.

ACL Tears
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is an injury to the knee commonly affecting soccer players, basketball players, skiers, gymnasts, and other athletes. Extensive research on ACL tears has been conducted with female collegiate athletes because women are 4-6 times more likely to have this injury. Physical therapists can help design a preventive exercise program that improves balance, strength, and sports performance and can help correct faulty technique in jumping, landing, cutting, and running.

Pitcher’s Elbow
Pitcher's Elbow is a chronic inflammation of the growth plate of one of the bones of the elbow, which causes pain and swelling inside the elbow. Little Leaguers who continue to pitch through the pain can eventually cause the growth plate to separate from the bone, requiring surgery to re-attach it. Youth baseball players are at greater risk because their elbows (bones, growth plates, and ligaments) are not fully developed and are more susceptible to overuse injuries.

Risk factors that contribute to elbow pain include pitching too many games, throwing curveballs and breaking pitches, and improper mechanics. Physical therapists can help young players prevent overuse injuries by teaching proper throwing mechanics and exercises to stretch and strengthen the arm. Factors that help prevent pitcher’s elbow include being physically fit, not being fatigued when throwing, adhering to pitch count guidelines, and not playing the positions of both pitcher and catcher for a team. A strengthening program focused on the posterior shoulder may also minimize risk.

Concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the brain is shaken inside the skull, causing changes in the brain's chemistry and energy supply. Anyone exhibiting signs, symptoms, and behaviors of a concussion should be prohibited from further play or participation until he or she can be evaluated by a physical therapist or other qualified health care professional.
A physical therapist can provide a thorough evaluation and may prescribe specific exercises and treatment to reduce or stop dizziness and improve balance. Since neck injuries are common with concussion and can result in headaches and some forms of dizziness, a detailed examination of the neck by a physical therapist can help determine whether treatment to this area is needed.

For more information about how physical therapists can prevent and treat these and other sports-related injuries, please visit

Source: Article above provided by the American Physical Therapy Association

At Fauquier Hospital Outpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation we have highly skilled, experienced clinicians who have a multitude of certifications and skills to treat your sports injuries. If you live in northern Virginia and would like more information to see if you may benefit from physical therapy, please call 540-316-2680to speak to a physical therapist. Or if you prefer to submit an inquiry via email, click on the button below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School...the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

When I was still in school, I remember that Staples commercial that would come on around this time of the year. Remember the one that had the elated parent shopping for school supplies, as the children are grim-faced, clearly not happy about the end of summer? I dreaded that commercial as a student! Staples used the holiday-themed song by Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” which, while clever, made me cringe at the thought of returning to school even more. Go here to reminisce and check out the commercial:

No matter how much cringing they may do, children are returning to school this fall. This is a good time for parents and teachers to observe how children are handling the demands of the classroom and homework. If you notice handwriting difficulties, poor cutting or coloring skills, difficulty with organizational skills, or decreased attention, it may be helpful to bring these concerns to your child's pediatrician and ask for a referral to occupational therapy.

Pediatric occupational therapists at Fauquier Health can offer support to your child if they are having difficulties in areas of both school and home. If your child already receives occupational therapy in the school system, we are able to work in conjunction with their IEP and provide them with supplemental occupational therapy services consistently each week. This has the potential to help them improve at an even faster rate!

On the other hand, many children may not qualify for school-based occupational therapy but still have difficulties that lie within the realm of occupational therapy. As an outpatient facility, our pediatric occupational therapists at Fauquier Health have a broader area of practice than school-based therapy, as the skills we work on are not limited to the school setting. We have the potential to address school-related needs in addition to other skills your child may need help with, such as self-care, coordination, strengthening, etc.

Written by one of our pediatric occupational therapists: Justine Davis, MSOT, OTR/L.

If you feel your child would benefit from occupational therapy & would like to learn more, please give us a call at 540-316-2680. Or to submit an inquiry via email, click on the button below.
We wish you and your children a happy back to school day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Physical Therapists can help young athletes prevent Pitcher's Elbow

© Sonya Etchison

Pitcher's Elbow
Pitcher's Elbow, also known as medial epicondyle apophysitis, is a common injury that occurs among young baseball players. Caused by "overuse" and "repetitive motion," Pitcher's Elbow causes pain and swelling inside of the elbow, and can limit one's range of motion.

The forceful and repetitive nature of overhand throwing for baseball players (pitchers in particular) can cause inflammation of the growth plate inside the throwing elbow, causing Pitcher's Elbow. Adolescent baseball players are most likely to experience this injury because their elbow structure (bones, growth plates, and ligaments) is not fully mature or developed. The following risk factors contribute to Pitcher's Elbow:

Young baseball players (particularly between the ages of 9 and 14) are at greater risk because their elbow joint (bones, growth plates, and ligaments) are not fully developed and are more susceptible to overuse injuries.
Pitching too many games. The number of games pitched should be carefully monitored and the league's pitch count rules followed. Research has proven that overuse in baseball contributes to injuries such as Pitcher's Elbow.1 If pain occurs before pitch count limit is reached, the player should stop immediately. Rotating pitchers within games is a good idea to ensure adequate rest is given to each pitcher.
Curveballs and breaking pitches. Both of these types of pitches appear to put more stress on the growth plate than other pitches.2 These pitches should be limited, especially in players between the ages of 9 and 14.
Improper mechanics. Improper throwing mechanics can put undue force on the elbow joint. Proper throwing mechanics can help a young player avoid unnecessary injury and develop proper technique that improves their game.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help
Physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving mobility and motion in people's lives, and eliminating pain. For young baseball players, this means a physical therapist can work with you to help prevent Pitcher's Elbow from occurring, and recover if it has occurred.

In addition to following the guidelines for pitch counts and recommendations for rest, a physical therapist can help baseball players prevent the occurrence of Pitcher's Elbow by teaching them stretching and strengthening exercises that are indivualized for their specific needs. Everybody is different, which means Pitcher's Elbow may occur for different reasons for each person. A physical therapist can help a player recover, by designing an individualized treatment plan to regain range of motion, flexibility, and strength.

1Fleisig et al: am J Sports Med 2011
2Lyman et al: Am J Sports Med 2002

If your child has had a sports injury and you feel he or she may benefit from physical therapy, please call us at 540-316-2680, or submit an email inquiry by clicking on the button below.

For further information about physical therapy, or to locate a physical therapist in your area, please visit the American Physical Therapy Association website:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Physical Therapy Offers Tips to Golfers Coming Back from ACL Surgery

© Hannelas Nicolas

Strength, Fitness, and Flexibility Are Key Factors to Recovery and to Avoiding Future Injuries

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers consumers information on what to expect regarding recovery from this major knee surgery.

APTA spokesperson Bud Ferrante Jr, PT, OCS, MTC, who works with both professional and amateur golfers at his private physical therapy practice in Carmel, CA, says that full recovery from ACL surgery typically ranges from six to eight months when the ligament is completely healed. "Of course, every individual is different," says Ferrante. "A typical golfer post ACL surgery could be back on the golf course as soon as six months following surgery -- if the golfer works with a surgeon and physical therapist and follows the plan of care."

Ferrante notes that the first week post-surgery is mostly about controlling swelling, pain, and getting patients to start moving as soon as possible. "Individuals who undergo surgery often use crutches for the first week following surgery to limit the weight-bearing on the knee and then progress to one crutch or a cane," said Ferrante.

Physical therapy starts immediately after surgery, several times a day at first, beginning with very gentle knee range of motion exercises, notes Ferrante. Depending on the extent of the swelling, a physical therapist will then work with patients who undergo surgery on progressive range of motion exercises that focus on regaining any lost knee motion. Once the knee is healed, the physical therapist would work on helping the patient strengthen the muscles around the knee, including the hamstring, and quadriceps muscles.

"The most important thing following ACL surgery is that patients avoid any type of twisting motions of the knee and not overdo the activity in the first few weeks of healing. The knee takes about four to six weeks to heal. If swelling increases, this could impede recovery," said Ferrante. Post-surgical ACL patients need to be careful going down stairs and to avoid certain exercises such as knee extensions.

How to Avoid ACL Surgery

APTA says that awareness of proper posture and the importance of fitness and flexibility are just as important for weekend golfers as they are for the pros. Golfers should have access to a physical therapist who can assess their physical abilities and provide individualized training programs that address musculoskeletal balance, body mechanics, strength, posturing and cardiovascular fitness.

Just as in professional tennis, there has been a significant increase in injuries among professional golfers, primarily because the game has changed so drastically and training has become so intense. According to APTA, it is now the norm, not the exception, for professional men and women golfers to work with physical therapists on improving these factors. But, warns APTA, it is vital that these programs be tailored to their individual skills.

Professional golfers make it look easy, but the golf swing is actually one of the most difficult and complicated movements in all of sports, requiring stability in some joints and flexibility in others. Having proper motion, strength, and function throughout the swing play a large role in preventing injuries. The payoff of a better swing is a more accurate ball strike, greater distance, and reduced stress on the muscles and joints.

Consumers can learn more about how physical therapists can get them back on the green as well as how to "Find a PT" by going to

Physical therapists are health care professionals who diagnose and manage individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. Physical therapists examine each individual and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. Physical therapists also work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.

The American Physical Therapy Association ( is a national organization representing physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students nationwide. Its goal is to foster advancements in physical therapist education, practice, and research.

If you live in northern Virginia and would like more information to see if you may benefit from physical therapy, please call 540-316-2680 to speak to a physical therapist. Or if you prefer to submit an inquiry via email, click on the button below.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Germinate Your Garden & Your Health This Spring

APTA Offers Tips for Pain‐free Gardening

© Alexey Stiop
As Americans anxiously await the arrival of spring’s milder temperatures, many are also looking forward to springing back into the garden. A place where plants, veggies and flowers thrive, a garden is also where people of all ages, fitness levels and shades of green thumb can enjoy physical activity. As with all types of exercise, there is a risk of injury if done improperly. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), it is important that gardeners take a health‐conscious approach to both prevent injuries and reap the health rewards of gardening. “Many gardeners injure themselves because they don’t view gardening as a workout,” says APTA spokesperson Mary Ann Wilmarth, PT, DPT. “Gardening is a strenuous activity and it is very easy for people to overdo it, especially for seniors or those who have pre‐existing conditions, limited mobility or who are normally inactive.” Common gardening tasks, such as digging, planting, weeding, mulching and raking can cause stress and strain on muscles and joints, primarily in the shoulders, back, neck and knees. APTA recommends the following tips to minimize the risk of injury:

  • Warm up before you begin. Get your heart rate up by taking a 10‐minute walk followed by some stretches for your upper and lower back, neck, arms and legs. Roll your shoulders back in a circular motion and slowly move your head from side to side a few times to loosen up.

  • Don’t overdo it. Be mindful of how your body feels. If you experience an aching back or neck, then slow down and stretch or stop and switch to a different task.

  • Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move tools and heavy planting materials.

  • Don’t kneel on both knees. Keep one foot on the ground to give your back more stability. If you have to kneel, use knee pads or a pillow to absorb some of the pressure.

  • Change positions and take frequent breaks to avoid stiffness or cramping.

  • Start with smaller projects and build gradually. Don’t try to do it all at once.

  • Practice proper body mechanics. Bend at your knees when you grab something or pull a weed, bend your knees and contract your abdominal muscles to avoid straining your back.

  • End your gardening session with a short walk or some light stretching. Take a warm bath or shower to help prevent next‐day soreness.

  • If you experience pain, contact your physical therapist.

For more tips on a variety of activities and to learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat visit

Consumers are also encouraged to follow APTA on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 77,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide.

If you feel you or someone you know may benefit from physical therapy, or if you have a question, please call 540-316-2680 to speak with a physical therapist. Or click on the button below to submit an inquiry via email.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dr. Oz reports on Vaginal Panic Attacks

Dr. Oz recently spoke about “vaginal panic attacks” on his television show. You can see a video of this segment at this link:

The medical term for vaginal panic attacks is Vaginismus, which is an involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles resulting in tightness of the vagina during attempted intercourse. This tightness may lead to burning, stinging, pain, or the inability to tolerate penetration during intercourse. Common symptoms of vaginismus (

  • Burning or stinging with tightness during sex

  • Difficult or impossible penetration, entry pain, uncomfortable insertion of penis

  • Unconsummated marriage

  • Ongoing sexual discomfort or pain following childbirth, yeast/urinary infections, STDs, IC, hysterectomy, cancer and surgeries, rape, menopause, or other issues.

  • Ongoing sexual pain of unknown origin, with no apparent cause

  • Difficulty inserting tampons or undergoing a pelvic/gynecological exam

  • Spasms in other body muscle groups (legs, lower back, etc.) and/or halted breathing during attempts at intercourse

  • Avoidance of sex due to pain and/or failure

Vaginismus is a highly treatable condition with high success rates. One of the techniques used is retraining the pelvic floor muscles to relax in order to decrease tightness and pain. Physical therapists trained in pelvic floor physical therapy are health care providers who can help you with pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation, control and relaxation.

At Fauquier Health Outpatient Rehabilitation, Kristen L. Pierce, PT, DPT, recently achieved her CAPP (Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Physical Therapy) certification from the Women’s Health Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). She is trained to treat all types of pelvic floor dysfunctions.

Our outpatient center also has the same biofeedback unit that Dr. Oz demonstrates on his show, and our pelvic physical therapists are trained in its use. The biofeedback unit can be used as an adjunct in the patient’s rehabilitation program to teach muscle control and relaxation. It can also be used to help with strengthening. The use of the biofeedback unit in pelvic physical therapy is based on the individualized needs and goals of the patient. Our therapists utilize a variety of techniques as well as education to assure each patient’s needs are addressed. All pelvic floor treatments are conducted one-on –one in a private setting.If you feel you may benefit from physical therapy for vaginismus or other pelvic floor dysfunctions, please call us at 540-316-2680. Or click on the button below to ask a question to one of our therapists.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Physical Therapy can Help with Common Upper Extremity Problems following Breast Cancer Surgery

© Cleo

Upper extremity pain and stiffness is common following surgery for breast cancer. According to McCredie et al, 7 out of 8 who have surgery for breast cancer experience some type of ongoing problem with shoulder/arm function, with most women presenting with more than one symptom. The prevalance of stiffness 6 months following surgery is greater than 40%; 60% have pain in the axilla or chest wall, and 25 to 50% experience weakness. (Kilbreath et al) These problems may not be resolved up to 2 years after surgery.

As a result of these postoperative problems, women may experience a reduced quality of life. Women may experience long term difficulties with everyday activities including: driving, dressing, washing their hair, and sleeping on the involved side. (Maunsell et al, Collins et al) For many women, the 'cure' produces other problems.

Physical therapists with specialized training in breast cancer rehabilitation are the ideal health care providers to address these musculoskeletal problems and help you achieve a pain free and fully functional lifestyle. Physical therapy intervention may address musculoskeletal problems regardless of how long ago your surgery may have been.

Physical therapy interventions aiming to decrease pain and improve function for those who have had breast cancer surgery may include:
  • Exercises including an individualized stretching and strengthening program

  • Manual therapy to improve the extensibility of tissue affected from surgery

  • Scar mobilization to decrease pain, improve mobility and range of motion

  • Aerobic exercise program to combat fatique and improve endurance

  • Patient education

  • Home program

At Fauquier Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Services, our cancer rehabilitation team, currently consisting of two physical therapists with specialized training, can provide these physical therapy interventions to patients with breast cancer.

If you have any questions for our cancer rehabilitation team, please call us at 540-316-2680 or click on the button below to submit an email inquiry.


Collins LG, Nash R, Round T, Newman B. Perceptions of upper-body problems during recovery from breast cancer treatment. Support Care Cancer: 2004: 12: 106-13.

Kilbreath S, Refshauge K, Beith J, MiJoung L. Resistance and stretching shoulder exercises early following axillary surgery for breast cancer. Rehabilitation Oncology: 2006: 24:9-13.

Maunsell E, Birsson J, Deschenes L. Arm problems and psychological distress after surgery for breast cancer. Can J Surg. 1993:36:315-320.

McCredie MRE, Dite GS, Porter L, et al. Prevalence of self-reported arm morbidity following treatment for breast cancer in the Australian Breast Cancer Family Study. Breast. 2001:50:292-311.