Unexpected Ways Physical Therapists Can Help Men
Does the man in your life put off going to the doctor because he doesn’t want to take time off work or thinks the pain will just go away? Are you that man? Men can be stubborn. (Women are, too!) Some don’t want to acknowledge that they have aches and pains. Others won’t admit to a decline in energy, mobility, work performance, and athleticism. Men of all ages and occupations, from high school football players to police officers to construction workers to white-collar executives, can benefit from physical therapy. Maybe you are a retiree who has noticed your golf swing is off, had back or hip surgery, or been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Physical therapists can teach you better ways to manage chronic conditions.
Along with honoring all fathers, June 10-16 is Men’s Health Week. This international awareness campaign encourages early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. It’s a great time to schedule those yearly check-ups and preventative colon and prostate screenings! Whether it’s to rehab an injury or address ongoing pain, physical therapy can get you back to work, or a hobby or sport you love. The good news is you don’t need a referral in many states. Direct access makes it possible to take your health into your own hands. Read on to learn the many ways physical therapy can get you back on top of your game:
Neuro Rehab for Concussion and TBI
Concussions often come to mind while playing football, soccer or, other contact sports. But falls, workplace accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and assaults are other common causes of a concussion or traumatic brain injury. More than 8 million people a year go to the emergency room after a fall at home. Falls can happen anywhere. You could fall off a ladder, trip in the garage, or slip on wet steps outside. At construction sites, workplace injuries can include falling from scaffolding or getting hit on the head and slipping. Neuro rehab and physical therapists help patients recover from a concussion or traumatic brain injury. Occupational and speech therapy can assist with activities of daily living, memory, and speech problems related to a TBI. Concussion management is a process that takes a team of professionals to properly diagnose, treat, and provide follow-up care. A physical therapist should be an essential part of that team.
Vestibular Therapy for Issues with Vertigo or Balance
Vestibular rehabilitation helps improve balance and reduce problems related to dizziness, vertigo, inner ear issues, and other vestibular disorders. Chronic conditions include vestibular neuritis, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and Meniere’s Disease. Symptoms can impact all aspects of daily living and make it hard to work, especially if your work requires balance, coordination, and good vision. People often become sedentary, which contributes to anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Without addressing the issue, vestibular disorders can lead to decreased flexibility, increased joint stiffness, and reduced stamina. Patients start to sit around for fear of triggering symptoms. That is where vestibular therapy can help. This exercise-based program, led by a specialized vestibular physical therapist, can reduce vertigo and dizziness, gaze instability, and/or imbalance, and falls. For those who have difficulty returning to daily activities, VRT can help with recovery by promoting compensation of other senses. Ivy Rehab offers a specialized Vestibular Rehab Program. An individualized vertigo physical therapy plan, including habituation, gaze stabilization, and balance training, address each person’s specific problem.
Jaw, Head and Neck Pain (TMJ)
If you ever have pain, clicking, or locking in your jaw, you could have issues related to the temporomandibular joint. Better known as TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction), other symptoms include headaches, neck pain, ringing or stuffiness in your ears. It may be difficult to chew or yawn. TMJ issues are often undiagnosed or go untreated. Sufferers can experience severe pain and it can interfere with eating, talking, and other common functions. Ivy Rehab specializes in TMJ treatment, which includes neuromuscular re-education, manual techniques, head/ice treatment, and jaw exercises to strengthen surrounding muscles. You don’t have to live with jaw pain, recurring headaches, or struggle to chew your food. Working with a qualified physical therapist trained in muscle and joint remobilization techniques can dramatically decrease symptoms related to TMD. In some cases, therapy can eliminate most of the headaches related to the disorder. Soft tissue mobilization and dry needling are other techniques used to reduce trigger points, release tense muscles in the jaw, and improve joint function.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at a desk, stand at an assembly line, or haul heavy construction supplies, back pain is a common complaint as most people age. Men who do manual labor can have their backs give out or discs deteriorate, but a growing body of research shows it is just as bad to sit all day. Even daily habits such as sitting unevenly on a wallet, wearing improper shoes, or carrying a heavy toolbelt can cause back, hip, and feet problems. Ivy Rehab also has specialized treatments for sciatica, adult scoliosis, post-surgery rehab, and chronic pain. The most common causes of back pain include muscle strains, disc or facet joint irritation, sacroiliac dysfunction, an acute injury or long-term illness. The importance of good posture, proper lifting techniques, and keeping your spine healthy cannot be overstated. Physical therapists are highly qualified to treat back and neck pain caused by sitting or tech neck.
Get moving and stay moving. Regular exercise may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s proven to be beneficial for low back pain. Physical therapists will work to uncover the root cause of your pain, address your symptoms, and establish personal goals. They can talk to you about behaviors, such as heavy lifting or repetitive bending, that could be aggravating symptoms. Physical therapists can give you exercises and stretches to do at home that will improve your core strength, flexibility, and increase blood flow to your joints and discs. Some simple lifestyle changes and postural corrections can help alleviate and manage pain and are worth trying before surgery.
Incontinence and Sexual Dysfunction
Incontinence is an embarrassing and isolating problem for women and men. Most people spend years suffering in silence when it’s a common and treatable condition. Acute back pain can cause frequent urination for men. Other symptoms include pain in your groin, difficulty starting urination or emptying, and painful ejaculation. More severe health problems, such as multiple sclerosis or prostate cancer, can lead to incontinence or erectile dysfunction. Pelvic floor physical therapy can resolve a variety of pelvic disorders as well as bladder and bowel problems. In some cases, simple dietary and lifestyle changes – like limiting caffeinated beverages – can reduce urinary urgency and frequency. Manual therapies, electrical stimulation, and functional retraining are other nonsurgical approaches. You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to your intimate health and relationships. Bowel, bladder, sexual health, and pain complaints should be address with your doctor and physical therapist. Doing regular Kegels and pelvic floor therapy benefits men too!
Sports Performance, Post-Surgery, or Work Injury
Physical therapy is commonly prescribed for post-surgery rehab, a workplace, or auto injury. It’s often the first point of entry for patients. Physical therapists can help restore movement and function to virtually every part of the body: ankle, arm, back, foot, head, hand, hip, knee, leg, low back, neck, and shoulder. A specialized workers’ compensation program focuses on rehab for injured workers to reduce days off and get them back to work. Speech and occupational therapy complement PT to improve your speech and memory after an accident or address the challenges of living independently. Occupational therapy incorporates your valued occupations and activities of daily living into therapy sessions. Maybe your overall health is good, but you want to improve your sports performance. Whether you play softball through a rec league, run marathons, or travel every weekend for competitive mountain biking, physical therapists can keep you healthy, pain-free, and address functional imbalances.
Ivy Rehab offers a variety of specialized treatments for athletic injuries and performance conditioning: ACL Rehab and Return to Sport Program; Athletic Training; Running Analysis Program; and Sports Injury Screenings.
Ivy Rehab’s Physical Therapists are Here for You
One thing you shouldn’t do is stop waiting for the pain to go away, especially if it has been longer than a week or two. Pain is a warning signal that something is wrong. The earlier you seek a professional opinion, the earlier you can start treatment. It can’t hurt to talk to one of our physical therapists. They are movement specialists and want to help you live pain-free. Developing a plan of care and following through with appointments and self-care at home increases your chances of having a quick and full recovery and returning to normal activities. Don’t delay! Call an Ivy Rehab clinic today.
Article by Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA
Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA is a practicing physical therapist and a partner and Director of Clinical Services at Ivy Rehab Network. Deur is board certified as a geriatric clinical specialist and certified exercise expert for aging adults with more than 35 years of clinical experience. She is certified as an aquatic and oncology rehabilitation specialist and serves as adjunct faculty at Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University.