One of the more common questions we are asked is, “Can physical therapy help me avoid surgery?”
Out of respect for how different each patient’s situation can be, we can’t responsibly say yes or no without knowing something about the patient. There are, however, 4 primary areas that we ask about or observe to help us gauge this question when we start working with a patient. These areas are:
1. The patient’s diagnosis
There are some medical conditions that can be more readily rehabilitated without surgery (when the other factors listed here are ideal). For instance, rotator cuff tears and arthritic knees can often be improved through the many benefits of physical therapy. Other conditions may not be easily corrected without surgery.
2. The doctor’s recommendation
We work closely with our referring physicians when we are treating our patients. When a physician recommends surgery, we will respond honestly to patient questions and encourage them to listen carefully to the physician’s reasoning as to the importance of surgery versus strictly physical therapy. It should be noted that pre-AND-post surgical physical therapy can make a significant difference in the healing process.
3. The patient’s personality
Patient’s who are patient with themselves and interested (and willing) to put forth concentrated effort towards physical therapy (appointments and at home) have a better chance of rehabbing without surgery, just by the virtue of their attitudes and perceptions.
4. The patient’s personal circumstances
In situations where the pain the patient is experiencing is beyond tolerable, avoiding surgery may not be ideal. And, in situations where a patient needs to be able to heal very quickly (due to a job, family or other area of demand in their lives), they may not be able to devote adequate time to rehabbing without surgery.
When surgery is being considered, it is especially important to talk speak candidly to your physician and your physical therapist(s), to explore the answer to this question. Considering each of these areas listed is especially helpful in determining what is best for you or your loved one.
The significant snowfall we experienced a few weeks ago, took many of us off guard. Many of our patients talked to us about the challenges they experienced. Between the warm ground temperatures and the not quite freezing air temps, the snow was heavy, wet and generally difficult to move. This was as true for those that used snow-blowers as those that were shoveling the snow.
While we tend to believe that snow-blowers make managing snowfall easier, every year thousands of people experience injuries while using snow-blowers. Here are a few important safety tips to remember and share with the people you most care about..
Tip 1: When snow is thick or heavy and wet (and especially when the snow-blower gets clogged), the physical strain on your body can be as significant as if you were using a snow shovel. Remember to keep your body close to the machine to avoid stretching forward to push. Wear shoes that give you traction. Avoid hats and scarfs that limit your vision. Dress in layers but be careful to avoid wearing loose fitting clothing that can get caught in the snow-blower.
Tip 2: Individuals who try and remove clogs without turning off the snow-blower can experience severe hand injuries. Always turn off the mower and use a stick or a broom handle to remove the clog. Even when the blower is off there can still be compression in the engine causing the blades to move when the clog is out.
Tip 3: Whenever possible don’t wait till the snow stops to use the snow-blower. Clearing the snow at intervals is generally easier and helps you to pace yourself. Though the machine is designed to cut through a lot of snow, the strain on your body is increased when you are working with volume.
Tip 4: Snow-blowers are loud and its always a good idea to wear hearing protection when you’re operating loud machinery. We recommend using over-the-ear protection to maximize your safety and keep your ears warm.
Tip 5: If you are using an electric powered snow-blower with extension cords, work away from the cord and be very careful. Always use extension cords intended for outside use and equipped with a ground prong. If you are using a gas-powered snow-blower, turn it off and let it cool before adding more fuel. Gasoline can ignite on hot engine parts.
Tip 6: Given how hot a snow-blower’s engine can get, give it a chance to cool off before putting it away when you are done.
Even though the risks are different than using a snow shovel, using a snow-blower is still a physically demanding task. Make sure you warm up your muscles before getting started, stay hydrated, and if you experience any physical pain (during or after the activity) seek out medical assistance.