Tag Archives: physiotherapy

Tips to Lessen Back Pain (Part 1)

Back pain plagues millions upon millions of Americans, and can significantly impact quality of life. Even though many may worry their constant pain is there to stay, there are plenty of little lifestyle tweaks and tips you can apply to help get some relief. Let’s take a look at our pain tips:

  1. Check your posture – we’re all guilty of hunching over the laptop or slouching on the couch too often, but all this poor posture can really catch up on an already bad back. It is so important to train yourself to sit up tall, and walk with your shoulders back and straight. This will help realign those muscles in a healthier manner.
  2. Go, physio! The right physiotherapist can really change your life. If you’re used to constant back pain and just thought it would have to be background noise for the rest of your life, a good therapist can help you change that. Physiotherapists who specialize in back pain have some great tips and stretches specialized just for your body to help ease your pain.
  3. Ice, heat, baby – It may help to make extreme temps work for you. Those with long-term arthritic back pain may benefit more from using a heating pad (electronic ones are great), whereas those suffering from more acute or inflammatory back pain may benefit more from ice. Alternating between ice and heat can help as well.
  4. Get topical – Speaking of temperature, there are some wonderful creams out there that alternate between cold and hot sensations that may help take the edge off back pain. Topical NSAID cream can also be very beneficial.
  5. Try TENS – What do you mean, TENS? Tens of thousands? Nope. We’re talking portable transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machines. TENS machines work by sending pulsing electrical stimulation into the nerves, which are thought to interrupt or help redirect the trajectory of the pain sensation that was sent from the brain.
  6. Non-opiate prescriptions – For most people, it isn’t a great idea to start down the road of narcotic pain pills for a chronic back issue as they can be addictive, can lose their effect over time and can cause many unwanted side effects. However, there are plenty of other medication options out there such as NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections or even antidepressants such as amitriptyline (they can work for pain as well).
  7. Stay (gently!) active – even though it may seem counterintuitive when you just feel like constantly resting a bad back, it may be doing you no favors to lie around. You have to practice caution when exercising with a bad back, as many activities can further strain it. Walking, stretching and swimming are all good choices for activities that may help strengthen a weak back instead of further hurt it.

Stay tuned for the rest of our tips next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!



The Low-Down on Tendonitis

Tendonitis and bursitis are both syndromes categorized by a pattern of pain and inflammation along a particular tendon or bursa and within the soft tissues around bones, muscles and cartridge. Both are common, and can also be quite painful afflictions. We’ll be looking at tendonitis first, and bursitis in the next post.


Tendonitis occurs when a tendon (a fibrous band attaching muscles to the bone) becomes inflamed for one of many reasons and causes pain and irritation to the surrounding area. The main symptoms are pain and sometimes visible inflammation around the affected tendon and joint.

Causes of Isolated Cases of Tendonitis 

There are many potential causes of isolated cases of tendonitis, some of which include:

  • Repetitive actions – Most often, people develop tendonitis gradually from certain hobbies or careers that involve repetitive actions such as sports (like basketball), hammering, carving sculptures or playing musical instruments.
  • Injury – an acute injury to the area which can tear the tendon, exposing it to damage and inflammation which may develop into tendonitis.
  • Misaligned posture or gait – if a person has a misaligned gait or walking problems, it could lead to tendonitis of the lower body joints.
  • Arthritis – sometimes tendonitis behaves like certain types of arthritis, or may be indicative of underlying arthritis.

Common Types of Tendonitis

Tendonitis can occur along various tendons, but most often occurs in the:

  • Shoulders – tendonitis can strike in two places on the shoulder: the bicep (causing pain down the middle arm and on the outside of the shoulder), or the rotator cuff (causing pain on the tip of the shoulder and the upper arm).
  • Elbows – Commonly referred to as tennis elbow, tendonitis can afflict the outer elbow causing significant pain in the area, particularly during activity. A brace is usually worn for activity in this case.
  • Wrists – tendonitis of the wrist usually runs along the upper part of the wrist extending up the arm or down the hand. It can be exacerbated by the presence of ganglions which can pinch the tendon.
  • Knees – also known as ‘jumper’s knee’, this type of tendonitis is prevalent among athletes who frequently cycle, play certain sports, dance or run, and begin to develop tiny tears in the tendon that runs along the knee.
  • Heels – A commonly chronic type of tendonitis affects the Achilles tendon which runs along the back of the heel. The pain can radiate along the bottom of the foot as well, and can be comorbid with another painful foot affliction, plantar fasciitis. Symptoms are often felt in the back of the ankles when pushing on balls of the feet
  • Thumbs – when the tendon running along the thumb becomes irritated or pinched it causes what is also known as DeQuervain’s tendonitis. It may cause pain and inflammation along the outer thumb and down to the wrist. It is usually caused by repetitive actions such as cross stitching. It is most common in middle-aged women, and can sometimes be brought on by pregnancy.

Prevention and Treatment for Tendonitis

To prevent developing tendonitis (or bursitis), it is advisable to take frequent breaks during repetitive activities, wear protective braces on joints when doing repetitive actions such as hammering, do regular stretching to help prevent issues around specific joints, and stop any activity as soon as you feel pain. Doctors may prescribe NSAIDs or other pain medications to help make the healing period more tolerable. Tendonitis and bursitis are usually treated by a physiotherapist using a combination of ice (for the first couple days) and heat afterwards, sometimes using ultrasound technology or a TENS machine. Some recurrent cases of tendonitis or bursitis are treated with corticosteroid injections. If these techniques do not work and pain and inflammation remain for months, the patient may be referred to a orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist.

Check out our next article on bursitis to read whether recurrent tendonitis and bursitis can signify an underlying chronic condition. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about the symptoms or conditions listed above, our qualified, board certified physicians are around 24/7/365 to assist you.