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Optimal Physical Therapy helps patients with many different conditions. Please see the diagram below for information on common conditions we treat and how physical therapy can help you.

About Head and Neck Post-surgery Rehab

There are various surgical procedures to treat conditions of the neck (cervical spine). One common procedure is known as the anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). This surgery helps to decompress the spinal cord and nerves in the neck by removing parts or all of a damaged disc.   

How physical therapy helps:

After surgery, our physical therapists work with you and your physician to follow a specific protocol of rehabilitation that reduces pain, improves motion, increases strength, and returns you to activities as soon as possible. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to learn more about our post-surgery rehabilitation program.

Neck Pain

There are many different causes of neck pain. The neck requires proper alignment, movement, strength, and stability to work correctly. The neck or cervical spine bears the weight of the head about 10-12 pounds, the same weight of a bowling ball. With injury or prolonged poor posture, changes in alignment, weakness and instability begin to occur. This irritates the structures of the neck and can impinge on the nerves exiting the neck or spinal cord.

How physical therapy helps:

Our physical therapists perform a thorough evaluation of your neck to assess your range of motion, strength, posture and alignment. Sometimes, where you experience the pain is not the actual source of the symptoms. Often a limitation in movement above or below the painful area causes excessive pressure on the painful area. With hands-on therapy, individualized exercises, and modalities, our physical therapists can relieve your symptoms, restore motion and help return you to your daily activities.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash can occur during many types of accidents, but is most often seen with motor vehicle accidents. During the accident the head and spine is whipped back and forth. The muscles in the neck do not have time to react and the harsh forces can strain muscles, sprain ligaments, and damage other tissues. In severe cases, fractures can occur in the bones of the neck (vertebrae).

Due to the shock and trauma initially from an accident, sometimes the symptoms from whiplash are not experienced immediately. The symptoms can potentially worsen one to two days after the accident as inflammation occurs and tissues become swollen. This can lead to headaches, pain with movement, and numbness/tingling into the upper extremities. If whiplash is left untreated, muscle weakness and joint stiffness can lead to future problems. 

How physical therapy helps:

Our physical therapists will work with you to determine the appropriate treatment plan based on your injury and presenting symptoms to help you recover. 

Gradual treatment progression is then made with the goal of restoring range of motion and initiating exercises. Exercises for posture and strength will be introduced to help maximize your recovery. It is very important to continue through with the recommended treatment plan created by your physical therapist in order to maximize your recovery and prevent future problems. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help you relieve your whiplash and help you recover.

Headaches and Migraines 

Over 45 million Americans suffer from headaches. There are many different types of headaches and migraines such as tension headaches, temporal headaches, cluster headaches, migraines and sinus headaches. While there are many different “triggers” such as alcohol, chocolate, scents, and other factors that cause headaches and migraines, most people who suffer have some underlying neck problem that can contribute to their headaches. These are called “cervicogenic headaches.”

Headaches and migraines are often associated with myofascial trigger points and muscle spasms in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Many headaches can be triggered by physical and/or emotional stress resulting in tension headaches. Tension headaches can be very painful and debilitating, and can possibly trigger migraine headaches.   

How physical therapy helps:

Our physical therapists perform a thorough initial evaluation to determine any physiological factors that may be contributing to your headache or migraine. They assess your posture, joint mobility, flexibility, and muscle strength.

If there are limitations in movement or strength in the neck or upper back, this will be addressed to restore your normal mobility and strength. Manual interventions along with exercise can help to increase blood flow and help to reduce muscles spasms. In addition, our physical therapists will teach you exercises and techniques that you can use to prevent symptoms in the future.

What is Radiating Pain?

If you are experiencing radiating pain into the shoulder, arm, or hand, the source of your trouble could be your neck or “cervical spine.” The nerves that supply sensation and movement to your upper extremities originate in your neck. These nerves exit from your spine on both sides of your body supplying the left and right sides respectively. Often with poor posture, poor alignment, muscle weakness or injury, the structure of the cervical spine can change. This can lead to a narrowing of the holes where the nerves exit from your spinal cord to the neck, shoulders, and upper extremities. These holes (foramen) depend on the proper alignment and movement of each vertebrae in your neck.

Symptoms may start off as an occasional tingling to certain areas of the shoulder, arm, or hand and can worsen to pain and numbness. Pain and numbness symptoms require medical attention, but most symptoms can be reduced quickly. However, the time it takes to reduce symptoms depends on how long and to the extent the symptoms have been occurring. If you are experiencing these symptoms, call Optimal Physical Therapy today for an evaluation.

How physical therapy helps

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery from radiating shoulder, arm and hand pain. Often, there is a limitation in movement in the joints above or below the affected area causing the nerve to become compressed. Our physical therapists’ goals are to improve joint mobility, posture, and muscle strength, in order to restore stability to your neck. This reduces pressure on the affected nerve and allows it to heal and the symptoms to resolve. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can work with you to help resolve your radiating pain.

What is Forward Head Syndrome?

Forward head syndrome is extremely common in today’s society and describes a condition where, due to changes in posture, the head is positioned forward rather than over the shoulders. This can be mild or severe and is affected by different factors such as type of work, age, arthritis, and genetic factors.

Due to prolonged sitting, increased time driving, looking at a computer or phone, along with a number of other common poor postures, changes in your spine can occur over time. Think about how much time you spend looking at a screen and hunched over a desk and the stress your head, weighing 10 to 12 pounds, is causing on your spine.

Over time, the normal curve in your neck reduces, the length of the spine decreases, and muscles in the neck become weaker. This can lead to a variety of symptoms from neck pain to headaches.

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy works in a variety of ways to improve your posture and change your neck alignment over time. With hands-on therapy, stretching, individualized exercises and postural re-training, our physical therapists work with you to normalize your posture. In addition, we train you on techniques to adapt your work and home environments to reduce the strain on your neck. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help reduce your neck pain and improve your posture.

What is Arthritis and Stenosis?

As we age,the wear and tear on our necks over time can lead to bony changes in the joints and bones (vertebrae) of the neck. These bony changes, along with poor posture, can cause the formation of bone spurs that can rub and irritate surrounding tissue.

The bone spurs can form the holes on the side of the neck where the nerves exit out (foraminal stenosis) or in the central spinal cord canal (central stenosis). It can cause a variety of symptoms from pain to numbness and tingling in the arms. In severe cases of central canal stenosis, which affects the spinal cord, poor balance, pain in the legs, and difficulty with walking.

People with osteoarthritis in the neck can experience chronic pain, joint stiffness, and limited range of motion when turning their head and looking up. Pain may be worse in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity.

People with rheumatoid arthritis can suffer with neck pain. It is very important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to maintain strength in the postural muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Maintaining strength in these areas is critical because a very important ligament in the upper neck often weakens with rheumatoid arthritis and can be a serious health risk if injured.

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy is very important in the treatment of arthritis in the neck. Our physical therapists assess your range of motion, joint mobility, strength, and posture. From there, they determine the best plan of treatment, which may involve hands-on therapy to restore joint and soft tissue mobility as well as exercises for strength, range of motion, and postural re–training.

Our physical therapists work with you to restore natural movement, eliminate pain, and get you back to enjoying your daily activities. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help relieve your neck pain.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

As a normal part of the aging process, the fluid filled discs between our neck bones (vertebrae) become dehydrated and decrease in size. However, in some individuals, this change can be excessive, leading to a severe loss of the spacing between the bones. This loss can increase the bone on bone contact, create bone spurring, as well as increase pressure on joints and nerves exiting the neck. Symptoms can range from pain in the neck to symptoms into one or both arms. 

How physical therapy helps

Physical therapy is a very important part in the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD) and degenerative joint disease (DJD). While the disease process itself cannot be changed, maintaining good posture, joint mobility, strength, and range of motion, can reduce or eliminate symptoms and help to maintain a healthier spine.

At Optimal Physical Therapy our physical therapists will personalize a treatment plan to help you feel better and return to normal activities. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help you.

About Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) describes the problems that may occur at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is where your jaw bone attaches to the skull. It is a complex joint that has to slide forward and drop down in order for your jaw to open. It moves thousands of times a day with talking and eating. The joint has a disc within it and has many ligaments and muscles that coordinate movements.

The TMJ relies heavily on proper posture and joint alignment to function well. The posture and positioning of the neck and head play a large role in the proper functionality of muscles surrounding the TMJ. Abnormal muscle pulls can lead to altered movement of the TMJ and result in pain.

How physical therapy helps:

Physical therapy helps people who suffer with TMD in a number of ways. Our physical therapists work with you to determine the exact mechanisms of your TMJ and any factors contributing to poor alignment of the TMJ, neck, and head.  The normal muscle balance and movement of the TMJ can be restored by improving posture, movement and function. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help relieve your symptoms.

About Vertigo

Vertigo and dizziness can be the result of a variety of different factors. The most common type of vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This occurs because the calcium crystals within the inner ear become dislodged. This can lead to dizziness, nausea, and loss of balance.

How physical therapy helps:

Our physical therapists perform a thorough examination of your balance and vestibular symptoms. We evaluate your visual movements, positioning of your head, neck joint mobility, and balance. At times, we may need to provoke symptoms to determine the exact cause of your vertigo or dizziness.

If you are suffering with dizziness and vertigo, you can benefit from physical therapy intervention to improve symptoms. There are specific vestibular techniques that our physical therapists can performed to settle the calcium deposits in the inner ear and improve your balance systems. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can stop your vertigo or dizziness and make you feel like yourself again.

What is Herniated or Bulging Disc?

A disc is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between the bones of your neck (vertebrae). Your discs change as you age, drying out and becoming more brittle. In addition, as the discs dry out with age, the change in height between the vertebrae decreases, causing changes in posture. In younger adults, the center of the disc (nucleus) is held in place by many rings of the disc (picture a cross-section of a tree trunk). With minor or major injuries, poor posture and strain, these rings can rupture allowing a pressing outward of the disc nucleus. Finally, as the nucleus reaches the outer edges, the disc can begin to bulge beyond its normal limits, which in turn can rub and irritate nerve roots exiting your spine.

In more severe cases, the disc can become herniated, which further presses into the spaces where nerves are exiting. Symptoms can range from localized pain to numbness/tingling in a specific part of the upper extremity. In more severe cases, complete loss of sensation, muscle weakness, and possibly paralysis of an area of the upper extremity can occur.

Changes in posture, strength, and range of motion can all affect the positioning of the disc and how damage may occur. 

How physical therapy helps:

The good news is that the majority of bulging and herniated discs can be treated conservatively with physical therapy. By understanding your medical history, symptoms, and performance of a thorough evaluation, our physical therapists can determine what areas have been affected.

An individualized plan is then created to relieve pressure on the disc by improving joint function, muscle strength, and posture. Modalities, such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation may be used to reduce pain, muscle spasm or inflammation. Our physical therapists work with you to recover lost strength and range of motion. In addition, educate you about the correct exercises to maintain good posture and reduce the risk of future episodes. Call Optimal Physical Therapy today to discover how we can help relieve your pain and restore your function.