Check With Your Physical Therapist Before Your Kids Join a Sports Team

physical therapists can advise parents on kids sports teams and what is a safe option for them

By Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness

A physical therapy screening is especially important if your kids participate in sports.

It’s important your child gets screened to check the functional movement they’ll need to do when participating in a particular activity, such as running, football, basketball, etc.

At NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness, we look for the weak link in the kinetic chain that would affect the following, so that performing a sport doesn’t set your child up for injury:

1. Range of motion

2. Muscle strength

3. Function

The screenings are like a traditional physical exam, except more dynamic. There’s movement testing.

If your child has a previous injury, it’s good to get it checked out, so that it doesn’t worsen over time.

A lot of kids need a little tweaking. And since kids heal quicker than adults, a little tweak in the right direction can help them enjoy their favorite sport pain-free.

Laying the groundwork to do things right before an injury can happen is easier and quicker than you think. Teaching them ways to move their body more efficiently provides them a stronger foundation for the future.

We’ll make sure your child avoids potential injuries through practical methods and cross training, conditioning them to exercise properly to become stronger and more flexible.

The goal is to get everyone to do what they want to do in an intelligent way.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

Your Neck May Be Giving You a Headache!

your headaches might be caused by your neck, get checked out by your physcial therapist today

Physical therapy can help you get rid of it without medication.

By Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness

Admit it: This pandemic has become a real pain in more ways than one.

You may think you have a headache, but your neck might be the culprit causing you pain. It may be a cervicogenic headache.

If you have cervicogenic headache, you often experience a headache accompanied by neck pain and stiffness. These arise from certain neck movements that cause nerves and blood vessels into the head to tighten in the muscles and joints.

Stress, poor posture, and/or strenuous physical activity may cause these neck movements. But typically, it’s a combination of all three.

In most cases, cervicogenic headaches develop on one side of the head. They start at the back of the head and neck and radiate toward the front.

In addition to headaches, you may experience blurred vision, vertigo, and pain around the eyeballs and one side of the head. Taking an anti-inflammatory may dull the pain, but it could also wreak havoc on your stomach and kidneys.

If your headache doesn’t go away even after taking anti-inflammatories, you should see your neurologist. He/she may refer you to physical therapy.

At NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness, your physical therapist will perform a physical assessment, and focus on what may be contributing to the pain.

Then, we’ll do manual physical therapy to fix muscle imbalances, along with guided visualization, deep breathing, and electric acupuncture for muscle tension.

The main thing is to catch it early. Once we find that the cause of your headache is really your neck, we can help you get back on the road to recovery relatively quickly.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

Overcoming Depression Naturally

don't let depression take over, physical therapy can help you overcome your depression naturally

By Dr. Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness

With recent heightened focus on mental health, people of all walks of life, including celebrities and sports stars, are talking about it more openly, harnessing attention, information, and better understanding for this common disorder.

Physical therapists are trained to know their patients and break them out of their psychological identity regarding work or sports. For example, if someone can’t do what they love because they’re in pain, or if they’re coming off opioids, they may be feeling depressed.

Depression is caused by emotional blockages that aren’t identified. When those blockages are removed, it opens the floodgates for the body to heal on its own, and every aspect of life – physical, emotional, and mental – can get better as a result.

But our body can heal itself from emotional, physical, or mental blockages. We can harness our own abilities to control depression.

Our bodies naturally produce endorphins, or feel-good hormones, in response to stress or danger. These interact with the receptors in our brain to reduce our perception of pain and create a general feeling of well-being.

Exercising increases our endorphins. That’s why the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.”

Our brain also releases the hormones dopamine and oxytocin to help us naturally feel good and happy.

A physical therapist can help you remove any such blockages by teaching you methods to use your body, movement, and breathing to strengthen all your connections.

To help move yourself past depression, breathe. Start with deep, diaphragmatic (or belly) breathing to set the foundation. It helps calm your body down.

Focus on the air going in and out. Take yourself out of your head.

In no time, you’ll be able to tune into innate wisdom. Tune into your breathing and observe your thoughts.

You’ll get a better sense of what’s going on in your life, and that will bring peace.

Your physical therapist can help you open your energy channels to help you become in tune with your mind and spirit. (Yoga means union of mind, body, and spirit.)

Above all, have faith that your body can heal itself. Always tune into yourself. Check your internal barometer.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

A Secret, 5-Minute Physical Therapy Maneuver to Cure Vertigo Without Medication

this quick physical therapy maneuver can help your vertigo and relieve the dizziness.

By Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness

Several years ago, I went sledding and fell multiple times. When I returned home, I went to bed, thinking nothing of the experience. When I awoke the next morning, I felt dizzy.

My diagnosis: Vertigo.

A month into my dizziness, I got a friend to help spot me for a quick, painless, physical therapy maneuver that relieved my symptoms of vertigo.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a sensation of dizziness and disorientation. ‘Benign’ means that though it may be uncomfortable, BPPV is rarely serious, except for a possible increase in the chance of falling. ‘Paroxysmal’ means it comes on suddenly but only lasts less than a minute. ‘Positional’ means certain changes in posture or movement trigger the feeling of vertigo.”

The most common symptom of BPPV is dizziness — the feeling that the inside of your head or your surroundings are spinning. This sensation can also come with other unpleasant symptoms such as loss of balance, unsteadiness, blurred vision, lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting.

Usually, a change in head position causes these symptoms, such as tilting the head, lying down, standing up, bending over, or rolling over in bed. Some people experience the symptoms simply by sitting or standing as well.

In the otolith organs, a tiny part of your ear that monitors head movements and position, calcium crystals (called otoconia, or ear rocks) help the organs understand where your head is in relation to gravity.

Sometimes, these crystals become dislodged from the otolith organs and move to the semicircular canals, another group of small structures with fluids and hair, responsible for monitoring the rotation and balance of your head.

If the crystals become lodged in the semicircular canals, they disrupt and confuse the way your body perceives the movement of your head, which can result in vertigo.

Some time ago, a patient who had been experiencing vertigo for five years came into the clinic. She had tried to treat it with Dramamine.

We tested her for vertigo, and she tested positive.

So, we positioned her head and body in a very specific set of combinations to guide the crystals out of the semicircular canals. The vertigo was gone after her first session.

In more severe cases, people might need a couple of follow-up treatments.

This protocol is a great relief for many people experiencing vertigo for years and trying to treat it unsuccessfully it with medication.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

Is Your Back in Pain?

back pain is common and it is curable

By Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness

If your back is out of sorts and you have aches and pains nagging at your every move, surgery is not your only option for relief.

A surgeon might have recommended you get surgery. After all, to a hammer, the world is a nail.

However, before considering that route, do your homework. Physical therapy could be the answer you’re seeking.

Back pain is the most common pain we see. Americans spend about $86 billion a year treating their backaches. (That’s on par with what people outlay for cancer treatment.)

But only about 5% of patients with back pain need surgery. Yet, in the U.S., more than 1,150,000 people go under the knife every year. (That’s twice the rate of most other developed countries.)

And the outcomes are not always better. Many times, people don’t get better: Three out of four back surgeries have failed outcomes.

Why Do We Get Back Pain?

Most back pain is caused by our lifestyle. We sit a lot and create muscle tightening to compensate.

That causes compression and more muscle tightening, which creates herniated discs, lumbar pain, etc.

People between the ages of 19-35 tend to get more of certain types of back pain because they tend to have more herniated discs, which have fluid. Whereas people aged 65 or older tend to have more stenosis, or discs that are drying out.

These issues are too complicated for surgery to help.

Before you get back surgery, try physical therapy. Physical therapy includes soft tissue work and manipulation of the joints and fascia.

At NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness, we look at the cause of lower back pain, which includes tight and weak muscles.

We use acupressure, a hands-on treatment that places pressure on certain points on the body to relieve pressure and increase blood flow. We also do spinal manipulation.

So, when a surgeon recommends you get surgery, please take some time to research your options and try a non-surgical method to relieve your back pain.

Physical therapy is a less painful, and much less expensive method.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

Has your Exercise Regimen Caused Sciatic Pain?

sciatic pain can be debilitating but the root cause can be determined and can help determine the best treatment path

By Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness

If you have kept a promise to yourself to exercise to stay healthy and in shape, and then have been met with debilitating sciatic pain, Nau Physical Therapy and Wellness has some information for you!

Top questions about sciatica:

Q: How long is this going to take to go away?

A: It depends on YOU.

In general, it takes to 4-8 weeks to go through the first 2 phases of healing to get to a point of no pain, where you recover all normal movement and strength.

It may take another 1-4 months to get back to all activities you want to do, depending on how active you are. This is the third phase of healing.

Here are 10 variables that determine how fast someone can heal:

1. Overall health: Healthy people heal faster. Younger people heal faster.

2. Other health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and body weight influence healing rates and affect healing time (i.e., it takes longer).

3. Diet: People who consume more nutrients in their calories heal faster than those who primarily eat processed foods.

4. Rest levels: Our bodies need sleep and rest to rebuild. Lack of sleep slows healing time.

5. Stress levels: People who have high levels of stress heal more slowly.

6. Sedentary lifestyle: People who sit all day for work or to watch TV heal more slowly.

7. People who follow advice and instruction from top level healthcare professionals heal more quickly than those who do not follow through with care.

8. People who are highly aware of their daily postures and habits heal more quickly because they can adjust habits such as sleep or sitting positions more quickly.

9. Readers heal more quickly. People with higher attention spans are more likely to be self-educated on a topic and more likely to follow through with successful treatment.

10. People who think there’s hope tend to be more persistent and won’t let anything stop them. (Recently we had a man with sciatica fly from Colorado to Pennsylvania to be successfully treated for sciatica).

Q: How long before I see improvements?

A: Most people we see in the clinic feel better in 2-3 visits, or within 1-2 weeks. If you go longer than 2 weeks without feeling better or moving better, the cause of your sciatica may not be correct, regardless of what your X-ray or MRI shows.

Q: Can I become completely healed, or will this come back again?

A: Most people we see who complete the 3 Phases of Healing – meaning they no longer have pain, have restored motion and strength, and are back to all their regular activities without pain – have a minimal chance of having the pain return. The stronger the person is, the less likely they are to re-experience sciatica symptoms.

Your body is a bit like a car. If you take care of it, regularly change the oil, and keep it running and fine-tuned, the less chance of break down.

If you ignore it, it’s very likely to break down and need repair.

Q: Should I use heat or ice on my leg?

A: The cause of most sciatica (pain, numbness, or tingling in the leg) is in the lower back. Ice or heat on the leg will not change that.

Consider that sciatica is inflammation.

So, if you’re inflamed, do you want to put heat on it and make it more inflamed, or ice to calm the inflammation down?

We have seen some people use ice on the lower back to calm down the inflammation temporarily.

Q: Which exercises should I do?

A: The best exercises for you depend on the cause of your sciatica.

We cover the most common causes: Herniated discs, stenosis, arthritis, and pelvic or SI (sacroiliac) joint problem

Each has a series of gradually more advanced exercises, so the key to picking the right exercise is to find the cause of your sciatica.

Q: How often and for how long should I do the exercises?

A: Most people we work with in the clinic for sciatica do the exercises at least once per day, every day.

Some will do them up to 3 times per day. Doing the same exact exercises for years without changing could be a mistake.

In general, to get stronger, your exercise should progress and get more difficult. With training your body adapts.

Keeping that in mind, there are 2 rules to training:

· Everything works.

· Nothing works forever.

This means that any exercise (although painful) may make you stronger. But once your body adapts, it’s time to move on to something different or more challenging.

One of the best programs you can move on to once you complete the 3 Phases of Healing for your sciatica is a consistent walking program.

People who walk every day have less risk of reinjuring their back and sciatica.

Q: What do I need to do for complete care? Am I going to relapse?

A: The best thing to do for sciatica, if you are worried about it coming back again in the future, is to complete all 3 Phases of Healing:

· Phase One focuses on getting rid of the pain, numbness, and tingling.

· Phase Two focuses on getting normal movement and full strength back.

· Phase Three focuses on getting you back to your regular activities.

At NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness, when we see a patient who had sciatica and is now pain free and restored full motion and full strength, we ask:

“What activities have you avoided in the past month that you want to get back to doing?”

Some will say walking, or golfing, or gardening, etc.

We recommend they do everything they could do before for the next month or two.

As they keep doing their exercises at home to get stronger, most come back for a re-check appointment in 2 months and have no trouble at all.

Some have a relapse. In those cases, we focus on the activity and the program to help them get on the right track.

Remember, people who are stronger recover more quickly. So, it’s usually only one or two visits before that person is on the right track again.

Q: How do I know the cause of my pain?

A: There are 3 common causes of pain. Below are some general guidelines for each:

1) People with sciatica from a herniated disc:

· Are usually 35 years of age or younger.

· Usually have pain bending forward, twisting, coughing, or sneezing.

· The sciatica pain they experience is usually sharp and runs specifically down the back of the leg, possibly into the foot.

2) People with sciatica because of stenosis or arthritis:

· Are usually 50 years of age or older.

· Have pain when standing or walking.

· Feel relief with sitting.

3)People suffering with sciatica from SI joint or pelvic problems:

· Usually have pain when sitting for long periods.

· The sciatica they experience is usually on the outside of the thigh.

· Symptoms may include heaviness of one leg or feeling twisted.

Q: Which position should I sleep in?

A: On your back is best. Next best is on your side. Last is on your stomach. Regardless, an important key is to keep your spine neutral. This means that it is not twisted to the right or left but keeps the natural curve it normally has. Pillows or folded towels can be placed under your knees, under your side, or under your feet to help you sleep in the least painful position for you.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.

You Don’t Have to Play Tennis to Have Tennis Elbow

tennis elbow isn't just for tennis players, find out more

By Sukie Nau, DPT/Owner, Nau Physical Therapy & Wellness

You don’t have to be Venus or Serena Williams to get tennis elbow. You can be a painter, a chef or even a construction worker.

The term “tennis elbow” is commonly used for the pain that happens when the tendons on the outer side of your elbow are overworked after repeated use. It’s also commonly known as “lateral epicondylitis.”

Inflammation of the forearm muscle that is attached to the elbow typically causes tennis elbow. Generally, it’s the result of repetitive movements such as in tennis, racquetball, and jobs like painting and construction.

Anyone involved in any activity that involves repeatedly moving your wrist and arm, and using their joints and muscles ineffectively, could be affected by this condition.

Common symptoms can include pain and weakness on the outside of your elbow, which radiates to the wrist and forearm.

At NAU Physical Therapy & Wellness, we work with you to identify why your injury might have happened, develop some exercises that can help you use your joints more effectively, and take the strain off them.

We work with our patients, not only to improve the motion of the joint, but also, in time, to reduce and eventually eliminate the pain of the injury. We might suggest exercises aimed at improving blood flow to the tendons, which typically receive much less oxygen than muscles around them.

Here are some examples:

· Exercises that involve stretching and strengthening the muscles

· Massage, using essential oils or ice to reduce inflammation

· Stimulating the muscles to improve blood flow

· Using straps or braces to provide additional support until your elbow has healed sufficiently.

With physical therapy, you can improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles in your forearm. This means that the likelihood of being bothered by tennis elbow again are slim.

Similarly, physical therapy for tennis elbow can help improve the blood flow to the muscles in your forearm, which will help supply essential blood and oxygen to the muscles as fast as possible.

We’ll work with you to design a personalized treatment plan tailored for your injury.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, call our office today.