Patient Education

Injury Care 

The best initial treatment of soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions is a combination known as “RICE.”  RICE helps reduce inflammation that occurs after acute injury. It is important to remember that the earlier this is put into place, the more effective it is. In addition, the faster you receive physical therapy treatment the faster you can recover.

R = Rest: Rest and protect the injured area. If it hurts to bear weight on the injury, use crutches; if it hurts to move the area, immobilize it with a splint.

I = Ice: Apply ice or a frozen object, such as a bag of corn from the freezer, to the injury. The cold will reduce swelling and pain at the injured site. This step should be done as soon as possible. Apply the frozen object wrapped to the area for 20 minutes three times a day for the first 48 hours.

C = Compression: Compress the injured site by applying an ace bandage. This decreases swelling of the injured region. Although the wrap should be snug, make sure it is not too tight as this can cause numbness, tingling or increased pain.

E = Elevation: Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart as much as possible. This technique also will assist in reducing the amount of swelling to the injured site.

Workplace Ergonomics

The posture that you maintain while at work is important, especially if you perform a job that requires you to sit for a prolonged period of time, work on a computer or use the telephone. There is no single “correct” posture or arrangement of components that will fit everyone. However, there are basic design goals to consider when setting up a computer workstation or performing computer-related tasks. 

Consider your workstation as you read through each section, below, and see if you can identify areas for improvement in posture, component placement or work environment.

  • Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen. 
  • Position the monitor no closer than 20 inches (508 mm) from your eyes. A good rule of thumb is an arm’s length distance. The larger your screen, the more distance you will want.
  • Adjust the screen position to eliminate glare from windows and ceiling lights.
  • If lighting conditions permit, tilt the monitor back 10° to 20°: this maintains the same distance between your eyes and the screen as you scan it from top to bottom. Exception: If using bifocals, lower the monitor below eye level and turn screen upward, tilting it back 30° to 45°.
  • The center-line of the keyboard should be level with the height of your elbow.
  • Tilt the keyboard back 10° so that your wrists remain flat.
  • Sit with your back against your chair. You should be able to touch the floor with the bottoms of your feet in this position and knees should be close to a 90-degree bend in sitting.

Posture – Why It’s Important

Good posture is essential — it’s good prevention. If you have poor posture, your bones are not properly aligned, and your muscles, joints and ligaments take more strain than nature intended. Faulty posture may cause you fatigue, muscular strain, and, in later stages, pain. Many individuals with chronic back pain can trace their problems to years of faulty postural habits. In addition, poor posture can affect the position and function of your vital organs, particularly those in the abdominal region. To have good posture, it is essential that your back, muscles and joints be in tip-top shape.

Your Back

A healthy back has three natural curves: a slight forward curve in the neck (cervical curve), a slight backward curve in the upper back (thoracic curve), and a slight forward curve in the low back (lumbar curve). Good posture actually means keeping these three curves in balanced alignment.

Your Muscles

Strong and flexible muscles also are essential to good posture. Abdominal, hip and leg muscles that are weak and inflexible cannot support your back’s natural curves.

Your Joints

Hip, knee and ankle joints balance your back’s natural curves when you move, making it possible to maintain good posture in any position. The best way to check your posture is to receive a thorough postural evaluation from a physical therapist. Physical therapists have special skills to evaluate and treat postural problems. 

Only after a complete postural evaluation as provided by a physical therapist, can you identify your particular postural problems. At that time, you may be given specific exercises to correct them. Unfortunately, changes occur naturally in your body as you grow older. These changes can influence your posture and make it more difficult to maintain a good posture or correct a poor posture.

Changes in your posture

Some of those changes include …

  1. Muscles become less flexible.
  2. Compression and deterioration of the spine, commonly seen in individuals with osteoporosis, cause an increased flexed, or bent forward, posture.
  3. Lifestyles usually become more sedentary. Sitting for long periods of time shortens various muscles, which results in the body being pulled into poor postural positions, and stretches and weakens other muscles, which allows the body to slump. 
  4. Despite the changes that occur naturally with aging, good posture can be maintained and improved. In individuals with severe postural problems, the poor posture can be kept from progressively worsening.

Tips for Maintaining Good Posture Throughout Your Life:

  1. Keep your weight down; excess weight exerts a constant forward pull on the back muscles and stretches/weakens muscles in the abdomen.
  2. Avoid staying in one position for long periods of time; inactivity causes muscle tension and weakness.
  3. Sleep on a firm mattress. Avoid use of over-sized or several pillows.
  4. Exercise regularly; exercise promotes strong and flexible muscles that keep you upright in a proper posture.
  5. Protect your back by using good body mechanics
  6. Wear comfortable and well-supported shoes. Avoid continuous use of high-heeled or platform shoes, which distort the normal shape of the foot and throw the back’s natural curves out of alignment.
  7. Walk with good posture; keep head erect with chin parallel to the ground, allow arms to swing naturally, and keep feet pointed in the direction you are going.

If you feel you need help with your posture, please give us a call!

Preventing Back Pain 

You can take steps to prevent back pain and injuries:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
    Maintaining a healthy weight minimizes stress on your back.
  • Pay attention to posture.
    When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet. Don’t slouch. When sitting, choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor while keeping your knees level with your hips.
  • Lift properly.
    Lift heavy objects with your knees and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, find someone to help you.
  • Modify repetitive tasks.
    Use lifting devices to help lift loads. Alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. Position your monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair properly if you work at a computer. Use a headset if you’re on the phone a lot. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching.
  • Listen to your body.
    If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position occasionally and stand up or stretch whenever you feel tired.

Have a Question?

The goal of pqcPT is to help our patients reach the maximum potential for their individual physical needs and abilities. If you have a question, let us know!

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