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Hello, everyone!
I am presently in San Antonio with our newest grandbaby, Nico Adrès Rodriguez!
 
As I try to educate our daughter on how to avoid too much pressure on her back while breastfeeding in a sitting position for long periods of time, trying to carry the car seat or trying to get her 3-year-old out of her car seat, I can't help but think of 2 common back diagnoses patients come in to discuss at our clinic. Patients are often devastated and afraid, wondering if they might become paralyzed when they hear the terms: degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis!
 
Before discussing these 2 diagnoses, I would like to let everyone know that we ALL have degenerative disc disease. Our discs are approximately 90% water when we are young and can stay that way into our 20's and 30's. However, as we age, our discs begin to dehydrate and dry up. As a result, the space between our vertebrae decreases, and most of us get shorter because of this dehydration process. So, if you think you are getting shorter, not taking into account a possible bent-over posture, you are. This is not cause for alarm, since it happens most often to all of us without any symptoms.
 
As our discs dehydrate and our vertebrae get closer together, there is less room between the vertebrae. Therefore, if you have back pain and your physician looks at the X-Ray of your spine, the vertebrae will be compressed on top of one another. It looks like there isn't enough space for the nerves and, as a result, the diagnosis given to a patient may be spinal stenosis. 
 
Here is where misunderstandings take place; most of us, by 70 years of age, have little to no fluid left in our discs and, from just an X-ray alone, the diagnosis of spinal stenosis seems quite evident. However, this diagnosis should be based on an examination more than on the appearance of the X-ray or MRI, as the dehydration process occurs, over time, in most of us.
 
If I haven't lost you yet, I would like to tell you that we see about 60-70 spinal stenosis diagnoses a year in our clinic. After examining, educating, and treating them, we usually can get 95% of these patients better. Therefore, even though they were diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which was based on their X-Ray and MRI alone, this was not actually, the cause of their pain.  If it is a true spinal stenosis diagnosis, based on symptoms and an X-ray/MRI, many people may need surgery.
 
How might you know if spinal stenosis is the cause of your severe back and leg pain? A textbook spinal stenosis patient walks about 3-5 minutes, and then has severe pain down both legs, and must sit to relieve the pain. This person stands up after a few minutes and can walk another 3-5 minutes before the severe pain returns. Some people try to push themselves through the pain and begin to lose their leg strength and fall! These are the true symptoms of spinal stenosis.
 
Once again, try to avoid overreacting to a diagnosis like degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis until you have been examined thoroughly. Do not let an X-ray or MRI be the determining factor for these often-overused diagnoses, which can be unnecessarily alarming.
 
As always, if you are unsure, please call and we will be glad to get you in and examine you. We do have the time needed to examine, treat, and/or direct you, if needed, to specialists who are exceptional at helping you improve your condition, whatever it may be!

Enjoy,
Fran


Health Information
 
We are excited to share with you that our clinic now is offering Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) to patients. BFR is being prescribed for diverse populations and is the hottest new trend in physical therapy. Everyone from professional athletes, wounded warriors, active adults to the elderly can benefit from this technology
 
After injury or surgery, a patient starts to lose muscle mass through a process called anabolic resistance, basically the muscle slows its ability to synthesize protein. This results in significant amounts of muscle loss in the injured limb. Previously, the only known way to reverse this process was through lifting heavy weights. Unfortunately, you can't do that after injury or surgery and lifting lightweights, which is what typically occurs in rehabilitation, does not reverse or slow this process. 

Blood Flow Restriction allows the therapist to begin the strength and hypertrophy phases of rehabilitation much earlier. BFR is the application of a specialized tourniquet system to an injured limb to temporarily reduce the amount of blood in the exercising limb. By doing this, you allow a patient the ability to lift very light weights and still see similar results as lifting heavy.

Clinically the therapy has been applied to many diagnoses with positive results including but not limited to: total joint reconstruction, Achilles repairs, fractures, rotator cuff repairs, muscle strains, nerve injuries, post-operative knee reconstructions and cartilage repairs. More compromised patients suffering inflammatory muscle wasting diseases such as polymyositis and dermatomyositis have also demonstrated positive results without any potential safety risks.

Many professional and college teams are also utilizing this technique for performance improvement. Examples include the use of it throughout a competitive season, so the athletes don't have to lift heavy weights with an upcoming game or older athletes whose joints may not be able to tolerate heavy loads.

Our therapists have been certified on the BFR by Owens Recovery Science. They train clinicians in BFR and distribute the units in the US and have over 106 college and professional teams as clients.

Please call us today to get more information! We look forward to helping our patients Get Stronger Every Day!  
 
MPT News & Happenings
Honored to be voted Best Physical Therapy 10 years in a row!! 
Thank you to our patients and staff.


 
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McDonald Physical Therapy
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74-233-5754
 
fran@mcdonaldpt.com
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