When we look into a mirror, more often we focus on our face or our outfit. But have you ever stopped and looked closely to see the differences between the left and right side of your body? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Is one arm closer to your hip? With someone in chronic pain, this is extremely important.
At Manual Physical Therapy, it is these close details that we focus on during your evaluation. These changes (pronounced or subtle) allow us to give accurate diagnoses and explanations of how these abnormal movement patterns are affecting your pain levels and your ability to do what you love!
Let’s go over a few aspects of our evaluation process so you may understand why these changes are significant and may explain why traditional physical therapy has not worked for you.
Is One Shoulder Higher Than The Other?
This tells us the position of your shoulder blades. Evidence indicates the scapula being significant in shoulder injury rehabilitation. The position of your shoulder blades also tells us about very important muscles that play a huge role with the mechanics of your shoulders and trunk. This is important because it translates to the way you are walking.
With your arms at your side, is there a wider gap between the hip and arm?
If you’re standing straight, the gap should be equal. If it is not, this can mean certain muscles are too tight pulling you in one direction or another affecting tasks such as walking, standing, and bending. You may not notice these subtle changes as they do happen over time.
March in place a few times and look down at your feet, are they pointing the same direction?
If not, is one foot pointing out and one too straight? This indicates the position of your pelvis. This is significant as the hip is a stability joint and if the pelvis is not symmetrical then it will affect the entire kinetic chain of how the knee and ankle are used. Now can you imagine if they are not? Again, this affects the way you are walking and other functional tasks.
You might be thinking, not everyone is perfect, we all have some differences. You are definitely correct! However, though our bodies are different from one another, each person functions efficiently when they are symmetrical. One side mirrors the other. If your body is not in balance, this is when you get yourself into trouble. It is not when both shoulders are higher, it is when one shoulder is high and one is low; the same goes with the rest of your body.
Our goal is to provide an accurate diagnosis leading us to your individualized plan of care to achieve symmetry within the body.
How did our body acquire these differences?
These changes may happen over time or after serious injury. Either way, the result is pain and muscular misalignment. Pain is really your brain’s ‘alarm system’ that goes off when the body sends a signal to the brain that something is wrong. Along with this alarm, your body is very smart and will react by compensating.
Your body is very smart and will learn new ways to move and start compromising your posture and range of motion as your body enlists other muscles in your body to compensate for the other muscles for disengaged muscles in your body. This promotes abnormal movement patterns and eventually may lead to the use of canes and walkers for pain relief and/or balance.
The good news is, once the differences are corrected by manual physical therapy, the disengaged muscles will recover and the surrounding muscles can once again contribute in the ways in which they are designed. This means your “alarm system” will finally shut off!
This means, you will be able to continue activities you love. We cannot guarantee 100% pain relief, however, we can guarantee functional independence. Many of our patients have indeed reached complete pain free.
Why didn’t my previous physical therapy give me relief (or long lasting relief)?
As you can note, our evaluation encompasses the entire body, not just the area where you are having pain. We work holistically which means treating the whole body. We are not robots, every movement from raising our arm to walking, requires multiple planes and multiple joints and muscles to work together.
Your previous therapy may have addressed painful areas but may not have corrected dysfunctional areas elsewhere. This alleviates pain in the short term but you will not find long term relief until the cause of the pain is resolved. We strive to address the most immediate pain first and continue your plan of care until the root issue has been resolved. So the same pain and problem does not recur.
We are all about function and about helping you get to do the things you love in life! During your first visit, you tell us what is important to YOU and our skilled therapists will walk alongside you in your journey in order to make YOUR GOAL achievable. Physical Therapy should be about YOU!
Our goal at Manual Physical Therapy is to help those people in chronic pain be more active and enjoy the things they love!