Physical Therapy for Ménière’s Disease

Some people may think that they are just clumsy if they briefly lose their balance or feel as if the world is moving while they are standing still. In fact, these people may have a disorder called Ménière’s disease, a serious, episodic, progressively debilitating inner ear condition.

People with this disorder generally exhibit all four of the following symptoms in one ear: a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ear, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), fluctuating hearing loss or the sensation that the world is spinning (vertigo).

The cause of Ménière’s disease is unclear. Initially, symptoms are episodic, usually occur in only one ear and last just a few minutes, followed by long, symptom-free periods. Early in the disorder, hearing loss may be temporary, but gradually the loss becomes permanent, and periods of vertigo lengthen. Vertigo, contrary to popular usage, is neither dizziness, lightheadedness nor fear of heights but a sensation that the world is spinning while the individual is standing still. In Ménière’s disease, vertigo is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and abnormal eye movements. Even when active symptoms subside, many individuals feel unsteady and exhibit some degree of impaired balance.

There is no cure for Ménière’s disease; however, sometimes people with the disorder are referred to a physical therapist for vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). VRT teaches individualized exercises to help the brain compensate for the disordered signals it receives from the inner ear. We work with patients to prevent falls, control rapid head movements and improve balance deficits left by acute attacks of symptoms.

Several other inner ear disorders can cause temporary dizziness, discomfort or poor balance. If you experience moments of unsteadiness and feel as if the world is rotating while you are standing still, contact your physician. Then call us. Although Ménière’s disease is not curable, we can design a program that can help make you feel safer, more comfortable and more in control.

 

Osteotomy: Aligning the Leg to Treat Arthritis

The strongest joint in the body, the knee can bear forces of more than twice your body weight. When the thighbone (femur), knee and shinbone (tibia) are properly aligned, weight is distributed equally over the knee. However, degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis or tearing and repair of the anterior cruciate ligament can result in an uneven distribution of weight.

When weight bearing is uneven, the side of the knee carrying the most weight wears down faster than the opposite side. You become bow-legged (genu varum) when greater weight is shifted to the inside of the knee or knock-kneed (genu valgum) when weight is shifted to the outside compartment.

The problem is self-perpetuating. Misalignment produces uneven weight distribution, which causes uneven wear that creates even greater misalignment, until eventually the knee becomes disablingly painful. At this point, you have two choices: total knee replacement or osteotomy, a surgical procedure to realign the leg. In an osteotomy, the surgeon removes or inserts a wedge of bone from either the tibia or femur so that the realigned leg equalizes weight bearing in the knee.

Knee osteotomy is not for everyone. It is most successful in patients who are:

  • younger than 60 years of age
  • physically active
  • have arthritis only on one side of the knee
  • have healthy bones

Osteotomy can reduce or eliminate pain and restore function, but it usually is not a permanent fix. About 20% of people who undergo osteotomy need total knee replacement after five years, and 50% need total knee replacement after
10 years.

Recovery from osteotomy generally takes three to six months and requires extensive physical therapy, beginning with range-of-motion exercises and progressing to strengthening exercises and gait training. We will work with you and your physician following surgery to devise a rehabilitation program to restore full joint function and relieve pain.

Returning to Action After Biceps Tenodesis

The biceps tendon runs from the biceps muscle through the rotator cuff and into the shoulder joint, where it then attaches to the socket. If the biceps tendon becomes inflamed or irritated, a condition called bicep tendinopathy, you may need to undergo surgery called biceps tenodesis to relieve the discomfort.

Overuse of the tendon from sports, some occupations or other activities is the most common cause of bicep tendinopathy. Although it can develop slowly over time from wear and tear, tendinopathy may also result from a direct injury. Causes of bicep tendon inflammation include

  • shoulder instability
  • rotator cuff tears
  • shoulder impingement syndrome

The surgeon cuts the biceps tendon where it meets the shoulder socket and then reattaches it to the arm bone. This helps relieve the pressure from the cartilage rim of the shoulder socket by shifting the biceps tendon to a position where it does not impede the movement of the shoulder joint.

Physical therapy is vital to successful recovery. Your program will help you

  • increase muscle strength and range of motion
  • protect the integrity of the repair
  • regain proper function

Physical therapy is also important to help avoid a “frozen shoulder” that has poor movement and functioning. Although your initial range of motion will be limited, we will slowly ease you into exercises that enhance recovery and get you back to your normal self.

Most people can begin a physical therapy regimen approximately three to four days following surgery. We will work with your physician to make your recovery comfortable and effective.

Exercise Away Your Back Pain

How common is back pain? The majority of people in the United States will suffer from lower back pain at least once in their lifetimes. But treating the pain can be complex and is usually best done with advice from a physical therapist.

Some people may require surgery to treat their back pain. However, surgery comes with significant risks. After back surgery, you should follow a program of structured exercise for at least six to eight weeks. Such a regimen can help

 

 

 

  • relieve pain and inflammation
  • enhance mobility
  • improve overall fitness
  • encourage proper body mechanics

 

But surgery may not be inevitable. Working with you and your physician, we can design an individualized program that can reduce back pain. Your program might include targeted abdominal and back muscle exercises, low-impact aerobics that do not harm your back and exercises to gently improve flexibility.

We can also provide advice on how to improve your posture and perform basic movements. These simple changes can help you prevent injury by teaching you how to stand correctly, lift without strain and sit properly.

Exercises to treat back pain are less invasive than surgery and do not require the downtime or intensive rehabilitation that often comes with a surgical procedure. In most instances, you will experience a major improvement that can help you avoid the need for back surgery. After six to eight weeks, your physician can assess your progress to determine a future course of treatment. To ensure that you get the pain relief you need, talk with us about the best exercise program for alleviating your back pain.

Hit the Links in Better Shape

Whether scratch golfers or weekend duffers, most players want to improve their game and lower their score. But maximizing your golf game means more than just practicing regularly. By increasing your fitness, you can play with confidence and success.

Your golf game depends on balance and stabilization, endurance, strength and power, and flexibility and coordination. To ensure that you are in the best possible physical and mental shape to sharpen your game, we can develop a personalized exercise regimen that focuses on improving each of these factors. A personalized exercise program can help in the following areas:

 

 

  • Smooth your swing, increase your club head speed and extend your driving distance by conditioning and strengthening your muscles.
  • Enhance your range of motion through flexibility exercises.
  • Improve your agility and balance by toning your body.

 

Maintaining fitness also helps to prevent golfing injuries. Lower back injuries are more prevalent in men. That means their injury-prevention program should focus on strengthening the trunk and core muscles. Women are more susceptible to elbow injuries. That means their injury-prevention program should focus on improving flexibility and encouraging a stronger elbow and improved swing.

In golf, as in all other sports, practice alone does not make perfect. To improve your game, your approach should include a fitness program that helps you achieve the body you need to withstand the rigors of practice and reap the benefits of your efforts.

Discuss with us your goals for improving your golf game and increasing the enjoyment of your time on the course. Together, we can find a realistic fitness program to make your game more comfortable and maybe shave some strokes off your score.

Strengthening Your Heart Following Angioplasty

People who have undergone angioplasty followed by stent placement generally have better blood supply to the heart muscle than do other people. That increased blood supply means that you should be able to participate in more physical activity than you did before the procedure. Not only is exercise safer than it was before your angioplasty but most doctors recommend it because of the benefits you can enjoy.

Exercise helps prevent the recurrence of the condition that led to the angioplasty in the first place. In addition, regular exercise helps you sleep better at night and keeps your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight at healthy levels.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions concerning when you can resume activity after angioplasty. Usually, you should wait at least two days after your procedure before standing or walking for any length of time. After that, you can begin low-impact exercise–for example, walking for short distances. You should find that you have more energy than before the procedure, because your cardiovascular function is better. Avoid vigorous exercise for 30 days.

Set goals. By the six-week mark, you could be walking two, three or even five miles at a time, depending on how fit you were before your angioplasty. Increase your time and distance slowly. Do not exercise so hard that you feel exhausted, experience chest pain or are unable to speak. Ideally, as you work out, your heart rate will rise gradually–then decrease as you cool down–and you will feel just slightly out of breath.

Besides the moderate fitness routines you already enjoy–walking, swimming, low-impact aerobic dance–we can suggest other exercises tailored to your specific needs. Anything from heel raises to arm lifts can help you build strength and stamina as you work into a healthier, fitter lifestyle.

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