COVID-19 and Your Safety

  • Our office is open and accepting appointments to provide essential care to patients. Our clinic is in complete compliance with current CDC protocols.
  • We are screening all patients for possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Special attention and precautions are given to those over age 65 and those with other conditions that may put them at higher risk.
  • Our staff and patients are wearing masks, gloves when appropriate and washing hands frequently.
  • Commonly accessed areas are cleaned and sanitized frequently.
  • Free phone consultations are available to all patients and those individuals who may call in with questions.
  • Please let us know how we may be of service to you.

FAQ About COVID-19

Covid Vaccine has arrived! What you need to know

COVID 19 Vaccine is here!
Here is some information to allow you to make an informed decision about getting the vaccine.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available many have questions and concerns around getting the vaccine. Today, we’ll cover what we know about these vaccines and arm you with the information you need to make a decision about getting one.

To begin, let’s review what we know about COVID-19.
We know that infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can result in a range of illnesses, from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. About 30% of persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 do not have symptoms. We can’t predict how severe any person’s illness might be. But we have learned a lot this year, and we know that certain factors may increase your risk. Some people are more likely than others to become severely ill when infected, such as older adults or people with certain medical conditions, like diabetes, obesity, cancer, or heart disease.

We have also learned about actions we all can take to help prevent COVID-19.
Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Avoid close contact with others as much as possible. Avoid touching your face–your eyes, nose, and mouth–with unwashed hands. Clean frequently touched surfaces. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. These are all tools in our toolbox, and the more tools we use to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, the safer we all will be.

Now we are on the verge of adding more tools to our toolbox, COVID-19 vaccines. 2 vaccines have been approved, and 3 are in phase 3 trials prior to approval. The federal government is funding and coordinating the development of multiple vaccine candidates, several of which are in Phase 3 trials.

In the United States, these vaccines will be authorized using the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization or EUA. An EUA is a process that helps facilitate the availability and use of medicines and vaccines during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. The known and potential benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine must outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine for use in order to receive an EUA.
And we want to emphasize that COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same safety standards as all vaccines.

When vaccines are first released, there might be a limited supply, and certain groups might be recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine first. As part of the healthcare system the staff of North County Water and Sports Therapy Center is at high risk of exposure, and can also potentially transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to populations at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infection, including older adults and those with certain medical conditions. As part of the healthcare system, our staff is in the first phase to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

We recognize that you might have a lot of questions, and we hope this article can help answer some of them.

– The first two approved vaccines have been produced by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other produced by Moderna.
– Both vaccines tested approximately 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 disease.
– Both vaccines are administered with a 2-dose schedule, separated by a few weeks, and are approved for 16 or 18 years and above.
– Both vaccines were tested in diverse adult populations, including minorities and older adults.
– Data from the clinical trials show that both vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. It is currently unknown how long the protection from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine might last.

Many people want more information about the vaccine trials that led to the release of the COVID-19 vaccines that are available now.
As of November 30, 2020, more than 43,000 volunteers were enrolled in Phase 3 of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine trial. These volunteers received the first dose of the vaccine. The vaccine trials are being conducted at approximately 150 sites domestically and internationally; Thirty-nine U.S. states are represented in the study. Among U.S. participants, 13% identified as Hispanic, 10% as African American, 6% as Asian, and 1% as Native American. Forty-five percent were aged 56-85.
As of November 30, 2020, more than 30,000 volunteers were enrolled in Phase 3 of the Moderna COVE COVID-19 vaccine trial. These volunteers received the first dose of the vaccine. The vaccine trials are being conducted at approximately 100 sites across the United States. Among participants, 20% identified as Hispanic, 10% as African American/Black, 4% as Asian, and 3% as all other non-whites. Sixty-four percent of participants were ages 45–65 and older.

How does the COVID vaccine differ from other vaccines?
Many vaccines use a weakened or inactive virus to get the body to have an immunity response.

It’s important to note that both of these vaccines are a type of vaccine called an “mRNA” vaccine. mRNA vaccines are new technology that takes advantage of how our body automatically makes proteins. The mRNA is a set of instructions that teaches our cells how to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The injection of the vaccine is a way to introduce the instructions for our body to build the spike protein. The spike protein is found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, but because it is only a piece and of the virus, not the whole virus, it is harmless. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions (the mRNA) and gets rid of them.

Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, which are what protect us from getting infected when the real SARS-CoV-2 virus enters our bodies. Two injections are needed. The first injection allows the body to build the spike protein and recognize it as an invader to begin the immunity response. The second injection helps the body recognize a potential invader. Hey, this guy brought friends. So the body quickly reacts to build up a strong immunity of antibodies to ward off infection.

One advantage of mRNA vaccines is that they are not made from the live virus that causes COVID-19. Therefore, there is no chance of getting the disease from the vaccine. Another big advantage is that they can be developed in the laboratory using readily available materials, unlike traditional vaccines, which are grown in cells or eggs.

It’s important to note, however, that the mRNA does not enter the cell nucleus, so it does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. This is a common myth about mRNA vaccines. mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccine does not interact with DNA.

So what do we know about these mRNA COVID-19 vaccines? mRNA vaccines are expected to produce symptoms after vaccination, especially after the 2nd dose of vaccination. Side effects may include redness at the injection site, fever, headache, and muscle aches. These are similar to side effects you may experience after other adult vaccines like the flu vaccine and the shingles vaccine. The clinical trials did not reveal any significant safety concerns. At least 8 weeks of safety data were gathered in the trials, and it’s unusual for side effects to appear more than 8 weeks post-vaccination.
[For the latest information about authorized vaccines, visit the FDA website.

We realize that you may have concerns about the safety of these first COVID-19 vaccines because they use new technology. Although this technology is not unknown, it has been studied for over a decade. CDC was able to fast-track these vaccines because researchers used existing clinical trial networks, like those that study HIV treatments and vaccines, to quickly conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Another critical piece has been the investment in manufacturing, even before COVID-19 vaccines have been proven effective. The U.S. government and vaccine manufacturers have invested millions of dollars in scaling up vaccine production while clinical trials have been in progress, greatly reducing the amount of time between vaccine authorization and vaccine implementation. Because of the great financial risk, the investment in manufacturing normally doesn’t happen until later in the development process.

As we mentioned earlier, mRNA vaccines are faster and cheaper to produce because they use ready-made materials.

We want to emphasize again that COVID-19 vaccines are being held to the same safety standards as other routine vaccines. Several expert and independent groups evaluate the safety of vaccines being given to people in the United States.

Before ANY vaccines receive authorization or approval, FDA carefully reviews all the safety data from clinical trials. And the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, which is an independent body of experts, reviews all safety data before recommending use. FDA and ACIP have qualified scientific and clinical experts with minimal conflicts of interest reviewing all of the data.

After ANY vaccines are authorized, and in use, both FDA and CDC continue to monitor the safety of vaccines.

Existing systems have methods that can rapidly detect possible vaccine safety problems. These systems are being scaled up for COVID-19 vaccine introduction to fully meet the needs of the nation. Additional systems and data sources are also being developed to further enhance safety monitoring capabilities.

Monitoring vaccine safety is a regular, ongoing part of vaccine development, and these systems have been in place for decades to ensure the safety of routine vaccines. These systems are complementary and work together to monitor vaccine safety. Components include:
– VAERS, which collects and analyzes reports of adverse events that happen after vaccination.
– The Vaccine Safety Datalink and the Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring System, which are networks of healthcare organizations that actively analyze the healthcare information of millions of people; and
– The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment, or CISA, is a collaboration between CDC and 7 medical research centers. CISA assists healthcare providers with complex vaccine safety questions and conducts clinical research studies to better understand vaccine safety.
– FDA’s Biologics Effectiveness and Safety System, or BEST, which is a system of the electronic health record, administrative, and claims-based data for active surveillance and research.
These existing data systems can rapidly detect signals for possible vaccine safety problems.

Additional systems and data sources are also being developed to further enhance safety monitoring capabilities. One example is v-safe—an active surveillance system that uses text messaging to initiate web-based survey monitoring. Many of our staff who have received the vaccine are participating in this program to help with data collection.

As you can see, no shortcuts on vaccine safety are taken for these COVID-19 vaccines or any other vaccine.

What are the benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help create an immune response in your body against the virus without your having to experience illness. Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you–your family, your coworkers, patients–particularly people at increased risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccination will also be a safer way to help build protection. Getting the virus that causes COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response.

COVID-19 vaccination will be an important tool to help stop the pandemic, but it continues to be one tool in the toolbox. While COVID-19 mRNA vaccines appear to be highly effective, additional preventive tools remain important to limit the spread of COVID-19. The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19. Wash your hands. Avoid close contact. Cover your nose and mouth with a mask. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available.

It will take time to vaccinate all Americans. While the vaccines are being delivered, it’s important that everyone continue to take all steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, you may hear more information and misinformation from your friends, family, social media, and peers. Accurate information is key, so we want to review some key facts.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines will not give you COVID-19. As we’ve mentioned, none of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use or under development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. People can experience side effects, such as fever, after receiving the vaccine, especially after the 2nd dose. This is because the first shot primes the immune system, helping it recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response. These side effects are normal and are signs that the body is building immunity. It also typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and gets sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

Another fact: COVID-19 mRNA vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests. Vaccines currently authorized or in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.
People who have gotten sick with the virus that causes COVID-19 or a severe COVID infection still benefit from getting vaccinated. People may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have already had the virus. This is because a person can catch the virus more than once.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called “natural immunity,” varies from person to person.

Experts are working quickly to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.
Now that we’ve covered what we know about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, the benefits of vaccination, and clarified the facts, you may have additional questions about what to expect before, during, and after your vaccination. Before vaccination, you should learn more about the different types of COVID-19 vaccines and how they work.

During your vaccination appointment, you should receive a paper or electronic version of a fact sheet specific to the COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine. After you are vaccinated, you should be given a vaccination record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it.

As we mentioned previously, with most COVID-19 vaccines, you will need two shots in order for them to work. Be aware that side effects are expected, especially after the 2nd dose. They include fever, headache, and muscle pain or body aches. You should get the second shot even if you have side effects after the first one unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get a second shot. Side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working to protect you.

Your provider may also give you information about how to enroll in v-safe. As we mentioned earlier, v-safe is a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. This program will help the CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. And finally, it’s important to remember that we don’t currently know how much protection COVID-19 vaccines will provide under real-world conditions. You should continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands often.

COVID-19 vaccination can protect you, your family, your friends, your coworkers, patients, and your community. Get vaccinated when it is available to you. Participate in v-safe and help CDC monitor for any health effects after vaccination. Share your experience with your coworkers, friends, and family.

CDC has a wealth of information as well as links to additional resources on the CDC website 

We would like to thank CDC and Los Gatos Orthopedic Sports Therapy for sharing this information.

How Mindfulness and Meditation Can Improve Your Health and Well-being

Living Well with Stress and Pain: How Mindfulness and Meditation Can Improve Your Health and Well-being
        When you think of the word “stress,” how does it make you feel? Like many, you may associate stress with negative feelings and emotions like anxiety, worry, fear or frustration. However, these negative feelings and emotions are actually less a reflection of stress itself, and more a reflection of how we perceive stress. In fact, Hans Selye, the world-renowned Endocrinologist and “Father” of stress research, defined stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” In other words, it’s important to realize that stress itself is neither inherently good nor bad. While we tend to recognize its negative effects, there are also other forms of stress that we generally consider to have a positive impact on health and well-being such as exercise, love, laughter, and excitement. As Selye once said, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”

     I didn’t understand this concept until fairly recently. When I was in the middle of my doctoral physical therapy program a few years ago, stress had taken on an entirely new meaning for me. I was pushed to my limits with the most external stress I had ever endured before. I was under the obvious pressures of being in graduate school and of becoming a young medical professional, but meanwhile my life outside of school refused to stop. There were also relationship stressors, family stressors, work stressors, and other personal stressors that impacted my daily life. During this time I even developed a cardiac arrhythmia (an abnormal heart beat), which my cardiologist at the time attributed to “high stress and too much caffeine.” Needless to say, after I nearly lost consciousness in the shower once and then again while just sitting in class, this new arrythmia became my wake up call to learn more about stress and how it was negatively affecting my health and well-being.

     As I progressed through my physical therapy program, I also began to learn more about pain, the nervous system, the biopsychosocial model, and patient-centered care. Through my studies and experiences, I began to understand that the mind and body truly cannot be separated. I had always thought this to be true, but didn’t realize how much scientific evidence we actually have to back it up. It became clear to me that the relationship between stress, pain, physical and mental health is incredibly strong, and that each can have quite a direct effect on the other. The other very important concept I learned is that humans are adaptable and resilient to stress and pain, especially when equipped with the right tools to reduce their potentially harmful effects. So today, I want to share with you some of those tools that have helped me and many others to live well with stress and pain.

     When I look back, there are actually several factors that I believe helped me get through graduate school. Family and social support were very important, as was consistent physical activity and a healthy diet. But the real game changer for me was something else. In my final year of PT school I took an elective course taught by Dr. Pauline Lucas, a physical therapist who practices at the Mayo Clinic, where we learned about yoga, meditation and mindfulness and how these can be implemented into our personal and professional lives as healthcare providers. It wasn’t really until I took this course that I realized that stress, just like pain, is both an inevitable and useful part of the human experience. (If you’re confused by this concept and you’re interested in learning more about pain, click on this link to check out my blog on take home tips for understanding and managing pain.) This concept eventually led me to the idea that in order to make the best out of a stressful situation or painful condition, we need to attempt to change our mindsets about stress and pain. And with this, one of my regular mantras came to be the following:

“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.”  – Unknown

     While this sounds great, I will be honest with you… it takes practice. Luckily, mindfulness and meditation are two evidence-based methods that have shown to significantly help with managing our response to stress and pain, especially when performed consistently. The Greater Good Science Center of Berkeley defines mindfulness as the practice of maintaining “moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment through a gentle, nurturing lens” and without judgement. This is the opposite of where our brains tend to be in default mode, which largely consists of passive mind wandering. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be more present and less distracted, while sharpening our focus and allowing us to be intentional with how we interpret our environment and the stressors in our lives. Using mindfulness as a tool, we can attempt to change our attitudes about stress and pain. This can be done throughout the day by mindfully breathing, walking, exercising, hand-washing, showering, eating, and much more. By being more mindful, we can take control of our thoughts and redirect our attention toward feelings of gratitude, hope and fulfillment instead of being overwhelmed by constant anxiety, negativity, and worry. The next time you wash your hands, follow the prompts in this video, and then check in with yourself to see how you feel afterward.

    Alternatively, meditation is a dedicated practice of focused attention and concentration with the intention to alter the state of consciousness and attain a state of relaxation. This can be done many different ways, but according to Mosby’s Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it typically involves directing one’s attention toward a symbol, sound, thought or breath. Meditation requires patience, non-judgmental attention, and willingness to take time to practice. Perhaps the most common misconception about meditation is that it’s only successful if one’s mind is completely quiet and unbothered by outside thoughts. But, as previously mentioned, it’s actually quite normal to have a wandering mind. Instead, meditation actually involves gently acknowledging any thoughts that may enter your mind, and simply allowing them to pass through just as they entered by redirecting your attention back to the symbol, sound, thought or breath that you chose to focus on during that meditation session. So, when starting a meditation practice it’s important to remind yourself to let go of any expectations, be kind to yourself, and keep practicing because consistency is key.

    The scientifically-validated benefits of practicing meditation are endless. It’s been shown to decrease the perception of stress, improve quality of life, enhance focus, and reduce symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia. It’s also been associated with supporting smoking cessation, reducing high blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and reducing menopause symptoms, among many others. If you’re new to meditation, there are plenty of resources available that can be helpful in getting started. Smart device applications like the Calm App, Headspace, and Insight Timer provide guided and non-guided meditations for all levels, and these companies also have social media pages and Youtube channels to follow for helpful tips and mindfulness/meditation practices. If you don’t have a smart device, or if you know that you can’t focus when you have a smart device in front of you, another simple way to meditate is by focusing on your breath. Try to practice breathing in slowly through your nose, and out even slower through your mouth. For some, it may help to count in your head in order to stay focused: inhaling for about 4 seconds, pausing for a brief moment, and then exhaling for approximately 8 seconds. This is what I often recommend for patients who come to see me for various painful conditions, and it’s also what I tend to use myself in times when I’m starting to feel the weight of life’s stressors. Not only does this technique distract you from your stress or pain, but with practice it also helps you regain control of your mental, emotional, and physical responses to stress or pain.

     After reading this, I hope you now understand how practicing mindfulness and meditation can help put stress into perspective by placing you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own health and well-being. As Viktor Frankl once stated,

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

If you’d like to learn more about changing your mindset about stress, psychologist, researcher, and author Kelly McGonigal gave a wonderful TED talk called “How to make stress your friend” that I would highly recommend watching. If you have any specific questions about managing your own stress and pain, our caring and knowledgeable physical therapists at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center may be able to help. Please feel free to give our office a call to inquire about our services and to schedule an appointment.

Tori Williams, PT, DPT

Match Point: Improve your Tennis Game and Reduce Risk of Injury!

Match Point: Staying in the game
Part one in a series

Attention Tennis Players:
Do you want to play at the top of your game and avoid injury?
Tennis requires strength, endurance, power, flexibility, speed, control and balance. In order to play your best, you need practice, technique coaching and a conditioning program so your body can meet the physical requirements of the sport. Your tennis pro is the expert on technique. Your physical therapist is the muscle and movement specialist.

Do you tend to play tennis to stay in condition vs. doing conditioning exercises to play tennis?
Tennis is a sided sport, requiring a conditioning program to avoid muscle imbalance and reduce risk both acute and overuse injury. Most common injury sites in tennis include
• Upper body (shoulder, elbow and wrist) 26-31%,
• Body core (lower back and abdominals) 16-20%
• Lower body (hip, knee and ankle and foot) 39-51% .

Do you wonder what the best exercises are for Tennis?
The physical demands of tennis require aerobic fitness with short bouts of explosive movements, change of direction and sprints. Your style of play, court surface and type of tennis (singles vs. doubles) all have varying training requirements. In general, a well-balanced strength and flexibility program including stability and power drills specific to the sport is recommended.

Do you warm up and cool down after your tennis match?
The warm-up is essential in preventing injury. Warming up helps prepare your muscles, joints and body for the upcoming activity. The cool down is vital in minimizing muscle stiffness, tightness and cramping.

The Warm-Up
The warm-up will prepare your body for the higher intensity levels experienced during the match. The key is to focus on whole body movements taking the joints through the full range of movement and exercises to turn on the muscles in the same way they will be used in playing.

Common warm up exercises*:
Book openers
Body weight squats
Inch worms
Lunge with trunk rotation

Upright arm circles
Side shuffle
Leg swings
Shoulder rotations
Standing W squeeze and reach


For a detailed description and photos of the recommended warm up and cool down exercises call 858-675-1133 and request your free copy!

Cool down:
During the match your body is constantly moving, when it is over the body works to return to normal and gets and instant shock. Because it is no longer under stress there is decreased adrenaline and increased tightness. Cool down essential to avoid cramping, joint stiffness and muscle tightness.
Recommended cool down:
1. Hydrate: drink a sports drink for lost electrolytes. Rule is for every pound of water lost you need to drink 24 oz. of water.
2. Immediately following keep moving, take and easy short walk 10-20 minutes or get on stationary bike without resistance for 10 minutes.
3. After moving stretch major muscle groups * 3 reps each holding each stretch for 30 seconds. Muscles you should stretch include quadriceps, hamstrings, groin, calf, gluts, back, chest and forearm muscles.
4. Within two hours eat a meal with healthy carbohydrates and lean protein.

These exercises are provided as general recommendations and do not replace medical advice. Consult your Physical Therapist before performing a new exercise especially if you are currently injured, experiencing pain, or have a medical condition that may limit your ability to perform these exercises.

For a detailed description and photos of the recommended warm up and cool down exercises call 858-675-1133

To get a specific program designed to meet your needs call 858-675-1133 and ask about our physical therapy movement exam and fitness program development.


Telehealth: A therapist’s perspective

Changing Your Perspective

Change can be a difficult thing for many people, but it is something that is always happening in life. Sometimes we choose the change that happens in our life, sometimes it chooses us. Most people would likely agree that COVID-19 has forced a change for nearly everyone in the world. And with this change, many are trying to take a step back to see the big picture, to figure out what we can learn from all of this. If you have been to our clinic, you know how much we love a good inspirational quote, so here is one from Sun-Tzu: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” If you spoke to 100 different people right now and asked them what opportunity they have discovered because of COVID-19, you may get 100 different answers. If you asked a Physical Therapist, you may be surprised to hear that one of their answers is Telehealth Physical Therapy.

Our last blog gave a detailed description of Telehealth Physical Therapy and discussed the benefits associated with this format of healthcare. But now that we have been working with this platform for the past few months, we thought you might find it interesting to hear about how we at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center feel about Telehealth Physical Therapy. So, we asked our therapists three questions, and the results are quite enlightening.

1. What are some things that surprised you about telehealth?
Overwhelmingly, our therapists were (pleasantly) surprised with how easy Telehealth Physical Therapy has been in this time of change and transition. With only a few clicks on a computer, we are able to connect with our patients and begin our interventions.
Additionally, many of our therapists commented on how personal the telehealth visits feel. We are able to see and speak to our patients while they are in their home environment, we can see their individual needs, and we can connect with them one on one uninterrupted to help them progress towards their physical therapy goals.

2. What are some aspects of telehealth that you think can be more beneficial than in-person treatments?

All of our therapists recognize the benefits of seeing the patient perform their exercises in their home, using their own equipment, helping them problem solve how they can use what they have at home to do what they need to do to get the results they want. We can see how people sit or stand at their work station and make real time changes and adjustments in the moment and see immediately results from those changes, a luxury we do not have when we treat patients in the clinic. We can also see how our patients do movements that may cause them problems in their daily life such as lifting, getting in/out of bed, and getting down or up from the floor in their home and can train them in ways to be more efficient or effective in the moment.

We have also noticed how much more engaged the patient is during our telehealth sessions. When we treat a patient in the clinic, there can be a sense of “being treated” by the therapist, the feeling that someone else is making the patient better. It can be easy, especially in an open gym setting, to get caught up in conversation with the therapist or other patients and allow the treatment to become a passive experience, albeit still beneficial. With telehealth, the patient must do for themselves the things the therapist always used to do for them. This creates not only a greater accountability on the part of the patient, but also a sense of empowerment as the patient is now taking control of their condition and given the resources to help themselves feel better and meet their goals.

3. What have you learned in your experiences with telehealth that will now change or shape how you treat patients in person?

Here it is… the opportunity! As physical therapists, we regularly attend courses to learn how to better serve and help our patients, learning how to use different tools or different techniques to help our patients meet their goals and improve their overall function and quality of life. Incorporating telehealth physical therapy into our practice has been just as enlightening as a continuing education course.

All of our therapists agree that we will now be more aware of how we educate and give feedback and verbal cues to our patients, being more descriptive with words when teaching or correcting movement rather than only relying on our hands to correct movement. Education is a large part of what we do as physical therapists. Telehealth physical therapy has taught us that educating our patients and empowering them with knowledge and accountability, rather than relying on our hands, is imperative to the long term success of our patients.

We have also learned that telehealth is not only for pandemics when patients cannot leave their home. For the patient who is receiving in-person treatments in the clinic, a few telehealth treatments to allow the therapist to see their home exercise set up, sleep positions, or home workstation can make a huge impact in the patient’s ability to manage their own condition for the long term beyond completion of in-person treatments.

We at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center are focusing on the opportunity, not the chaos. Telehealth physical therapy is continuing to be a beneficial platform for our patients. If you have questions or are interested in getting started with telehealth physical therapy, please contact our office and we would be happy to discuss your options.

To see more check out

Therapist during telehealth session
Interacting with clients through telehealth!

Connect and Thrive with Telehealth Physical Therapy

Connect and Thrive with Telehealth Physical Therapy
How many times have you used technology in the past month to communicate with loved ones, co-workers or others in the outside world? Now, take yourself back in time 20-30 years and your answer to this question would likely have been very different. In this day and age, it goes without saying that technology has changed the way we communicate, collaborate, and connect with others. The medical field is no exception to this, and new methods of providing healthcare have begun to emerge in recent years. In the past, you may have used an online portal to check in with your medical provider or to obtain health information such as testing or imaging results. But what you may not know, or may not have known before COVID-19, is that you can also spend face-to-face time with your healthcare provider via virtual or online platforms. Telehealth, or telemedicine, is a term that broadly refers to the ability to communicate with and/or obtain healthcare services directly from your medical providers through telephone, video call, or other online platforms.

What is Telehealth Physical Therapy?
Connect with simple to use, real time video conferencing technology, and work with your musculoskeletal problem solver (aka your physical therapist) to develop and implement a movement and treatment plan specific to your goals.
For the purposes of this blog, we will be referring to “telehealth” as the method in which you engage in a virtual visit with your physical therapist through a video call from the safety and comfort of your own home. Telehealth physical therapy at our clinic includes one-on-one remote evaluation, consultation, education, and treatment of individuals with various musculoskeletal conditions. This occurs through a private video call, with a link sent to your e-mail which you can access from your phone, tablet, laptop, or computer. During these visits, your therapist will spend time asking you about your problem, assessing your movements, and creating an individualized care plan to manage your symptoms and improve your daily function – just like they would here in the clinic. Telehealth also gives your therapist an opportunity to virtually assess your home environment and address any challenges you may be having at home such as optimizing your home office or desk set up, navigating certain steps or stairs, or figuring out exactly where and how to perform your prescribed home exercises.

What are the benefits of Telehealth Physical Therapy?
Effective treatment to get you back to doing the things in life you want and need to do. The best part is that is convenient, saves time, saves money all from the safety and comfort of your own home.

Telehealth physical therapy services have been gaining popularity over the past several years, largely because it is convenient, private, safe, and cost-effective. Telehealth is ideal for those who would like to save time, money and energy spent on travel. It also provides access to care for those who are unable to come into the clinic due to transportation challenges or because they live in rural or distant areas. During this time in particular, telehealth physical therapy offers a safer option for receiving care that allows patients to stay at home while physically and socially distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Another benefit is that telehealth physical therapy is also available via direct access, meaning you don’t have to have a referral from your doctor to get started.
New research has demonstrated reduced costs, improved patient outcomes, increased access to healthcare services, and higher patient satisfaction with the use of telehealth physical therapy. Here is a testimonial from one of our patients who has opted for telehealth physical therapy services at our facility:
“Working with skilled physical therapists using telehealth is just like being in person… without the commute! I’ve increased my physical therapy sessions to compensate for regular chiropractic, which cannot be conducted remotely, and it’s working great! Keeping up with physical therapy during this time is extremely important and very helpful for overall wellbeing. Given the recent changes in telehealth rules, all Californians now have access to the most competent physical therapists in our state and possibly our country, not just those who live in San Diego! Take advantage of it!” –Stacy

Physical Therapist talking with a patient

How do I know if Telehealth Physical Therapy is right for me?
re you wondering if telehealth would be right for your particular situation? To help decide consider the following questions:
1. Do I have access to internet and a smart device with a camera? Telehealth physical therapy visits can be accessed from any smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer that has a camera, as long as the device can be set up in a way that allows your physical therapist to see your full body during the visit.
2. Do I feel comfortable exercising in my home? It is helpful during telehealth sessions to have a little bit of space in your home where you can perform exercises and move around. Some situations may also require a caregiver or helper to be present during telehealth sessions to assist with certain activities and make sure you are safe.
3. Do I need hands-on treatment? Many patients benefit most from a physical therapist’s expertise through guided exercise, functional movement training, self-massage techniques and education regarding pain or symptom management strategies which can be done safely and independently in your own home. However, in some cases your physical therapist may recommend that you attend visits in the clinic in order to evaluate or treat you with hands-on methods.
Ready to sign up for telehealth? Call us at (858) 675-1133 or click the following link to fill out the intake form and we will get back to you right away: click to fill out basic information form

Still have more questions? Give us a call and our staff will guide you in finding the best option to get you moving again and back to doing the things you love.


Are you a New Year’s Resolution Newbie, Master or Flunkee?

Are You a New Year’s Resolution Newbie, Master or Flunkee?

Turning the page on the new year is a chance to wipe the slate clean—and to be better versions of ourselves. And when it comes to what we want to improve, goals that fall in the health and wellness arena top all other New Year’s resolutions. In fact, three of the top four resolutions in a 2018 YouGov poll were health-related: eat healthier (1), get more exercise (2) and focus on self-care, e.g., get more sleep (4). There are three types of people who choose a goal from the health and wellness category as a New Year’s resolution: the resolution newbie, the resolution master and the resolution flunkee. Let’s see which category you most identify with—and how focusing on the right strategy can help you get healthier in the new year.

Resolution Newbie. Maybe this is your first time making a commitment to your health and wellness. Good for you! Did a recent event like a health scare or loss of a loved one make you see the light? Or perhaps you want to be more active to enjoy activities with your grandchildren or to carry your own bag on the golf course. Whatever your goals are, taking that first step is a big one so you’ll want to be sure that you’re prepared for the challenge. Particularly when exercising for the first time or returning to an active lifestyle after a long hiatus, it’s important to have the proper information and tools to be successful. And that means tapping the healthcare resources available to you: Clinicians like nutritionists and physical therapists can make sure that your body is prepared to take on new challenges and work with you to a design a program that will help you achieve your goals.

Resolution Master. Perhaps you fall into a different camp: You vowed to get healthy in 2019 and you achieved it! For 2020, your resolution is to continue the work you’ve begun. After all, living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong commitment; it’s not something you do for a while and then revert back to your former habits. As you prepare to embrace the new year, are there any small tweaks you can make to advance your goals? Maybe you’re thinking about training for and running a half marathon, but don’t know where to begin. A physical therapy evaluation is a great place to start—PTs are trained to assess your movement patterns and identify any limitations or weaknesses. Based on that information, the PT can design a personalized exercise program to help you safely and effectively prepare for the grueling half marathon course.

Resolution Flunkee. Let’s say your plan for 2020 is to get in better shape and improve your overall health (we support that resolution!), but this isn’t your first rodeo. Your 2019 resolution was pretty similar but it’s one year later, and you’re in the same place you were on New Year’s Eve 2018. What stood in your way—was it time? Affordable options? Access to healthy choices and activities? If any of these barriers sound familiar, then along with your resolution, you need an action plan. Without planning ahead, you’ll find yourself staring down the year 2021 with the same goal in mind. But let’s not focus only on the negative—what went right last year? Maybe you made sleep a priority, which in turn helped you to make better food choices at breakfast but by afternoon, you found yourself choosing to energize with a soda and candy bar when all you probably needed was an apple and a 15-minute walk. Take some time to think about the previous year—good and bad—and take with you what you need, and leave the rest behind. Afterall, you can’t plan where you’re going without understanding where you’ve been.

Which resolution type are you?

Do You Know Your Movement Vital Signs?

Do You Know Your Movement Vital Signs?
Most people think of heart rate or blood pressure when they think of vital signs. It is common to use numbers to quantify health and risk of disease. The American Heart Association encourages people to “know their numbers” referring to blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight. However, research is now showing the importance of moving properly for health. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers you can use to quantify your movement health:

Walking Speed
Walking speed has been called the “sixth vital sign” in medical literature recently. It is easy to measure, and takes into account strength, balance, coordination, confidence, cardiovascular fitness, tolerance to activity, and a whole host of other factors. It has also been shown to be predictive of future hospitalizations, functional decline, and overall mortality. Normal walking speed is considered to be 1.2 to 1.4 meters per second.

Push Ups
Push ups are popular to build strength, but a recent study found that they can show us a lot about your heart too. Researchers found that men who could do 40 or more consecutive push ups were at a 96% lower risk for cardiovascular disease than were men who could do less than 10. The push up test was also more useful in predicting future cardiovascular disease than aerobic capacity measured on a treadmill.

Grip Strength
Hand grip strength has been shown to be strongly correlated with health. The stronger your hand grip is, the less likely you are to suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, COPD, and all types of cancer. In the study, muscle weakness was defined as grip strength <26 kg for men and <16 kg for women. Grip strength below these numbers was highly correlated with an increase in disease.

Standing From the Floor
If you can’t easily get down on the floor and back up your health might be in trouble, according to a study that looked at more than 2,000 people. The study asked people to go from standing to sitting on the floor and back up with as little support as needed. They found that if you need to use more than one hand to get up and down from the floor that you were 2 to 5 times more likely to die in the next 7 years than someone who can do it with just one hand, or even better, no hands at all.

Moving well is obviously important to overall health and longer life. These tests can give a snapshot of how you’re doing. If you’re having trouble with any of them, considering seeing a movement specialist – your physical therapist.

Take Home Tips for Understanding and Managing Your Pain

Hurt Does Not Equal Harm: Take-Home Tips for Understanding and Managing Your Pain

Pain is a common experience shared by all human beings. It’s the body’s natural alarm system which is produced by the brain and occurs in response to a perceived threat. This means that pain is not only normal, but necessary for survival. However, as most of us know, suffering from pain has the potential to be very disruptive to daily life. But what many don’t realize is that pain, especially pain that persists for long periods of time, is extremely complex. Factors that impact pain include physiological stress (i.e. muscles, bones, ligaments, and nerves), emotional and psychological stress, sleep hygiene (i.e. amount of sleep, quality of sleep, and regularity of sleep pattern), past experiences with injuries or pain, and beliefs about pain and recovery. For this reason and many others, everyone experiences pain differently and will have different ways to manage pain for different situations.
As you may have heard in the media, the U.S. is currently in an opioid epidemic as a result of increased prescription and abuse of pain medications. This is because opioids have been found to be highly addictive which can lead to overdose and death if used improperly. Luckily, there are many ways in which pain can be managed without using pain medication. Your physical therapist can help you better understand and manage your pain. Here is a testimonial from a previous patient about her experience with managing her painful condition at our facility:

“Over the past 20 years, I have suffered with painful lower back pain, sciatica and shoulder issues. I have sought treatment from countless physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons. Along with the enduring physical pain, I developed a fear to pursue activities that I enjoyed; I was worried that exercise could worsen my condition. At the evaluation appointment, I expressed fear, hopelessness and skepticism about undergoing more physical therapy treatment. However, soon it became clear to me that this experience would be different because Tori was different than what I’ve ever experienced. She was patient, encouraging and pushed me beyond what I thought I could accomplish. I’ve never been treated and taken care of with so much one on one care. I’ve never been consistent or motivated with PT exercises, however, this time I was. I benefitted from being educated on correct lifting techniques and form applied to my weight training at the gym, backyard gardening, lap swimming, daily living activities, and even mastering stairways! I am for the first time in many years finally not fearful of pursuing my preferred active lifestyle.”

– Emma

You, too, are capable of taking back control of your life with pain management strategies individualized to you. Below are some take-home tips to help you get started.
1. Understand that pain does not always equal harm or tissue damage. As previously mentioned, pain is complicated. And in many cases, it isn’t a direct reflection of the health of our body’s tissues or structures. Your physical therapist can help you identify various factors that may be contributing to your pain experience and can help guide you through movements that will help you get back to your daily life. If you’re feeling stuck or are interested in learning more about your pain, your physical therapist may introduce you to the “Why Do I Hurt? Workbook,” an interactive and evidence-based booklet created by Dr. Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD, that can further help you understand and lessen your pain. The following quote is from a previous patient who utilized the workbook:

“Dr. Tori Williams helped me work on a painful hip problem that had been preventing me from exercising and interfered with sleeping well. The physical therapy did the trick, however at one point I felt like progress had stalled and I was frustrated. I was getting stronger and could move much better, but the pain kept flaring up. Tori suggested that the Why Do I Hurt Workbook might give me some insight on the problem. The Workbook provided the missing pieces of the puzzle. It helped me put it all together and move past the pain cycle. I learned that the tissue problem is only one part of the equation. My history, emotions and attitudes were me keeping me in the pain cycle. Once I began to work on some of those things, combined with the PT and exercise I was able to easily move forward and move out of the pain cycle”

– Pat

Another patient who has used the workbook had this to say about what he learned:

“It helped me understand how personal emotions and the fear of pain can cause pain. Now I realize how physical activity can help mitigate the pain and strengthen me both physically and mentally. I don’t focus on the pain when I am physically active and the book taught me the importance of that.”
– Steve

2. Find your favorite relaxation techniques. As previously mentioned, pain occurs in response to a perceived threat. This can come in many forms and can be compounded by physical, emotional, and mental stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, and soft tissue massage can be helpful in managing stress and turning down the body’s natural alarm system. Taking as little as 5 minutes of each day to devote to relaxation can be beneficial to decrease pain and stress over time. One evidence-based strategy for calming your nervous system is using the 4-7-8 breathing technique which involves breathing in through the nose for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, and exhaling through the mouth slowly for 8 seconds.

3. Keep moving. Research has shown that just a single bout of light aerobic exercise increases the production of the natural opioids produced by your body, called endogenous opioids. These are well-known to reduce anxiety, enhance mood, and aid in pain relief. So if you are able to move around, it’s always a good idea to work up a little sweat by going for a walk, jog, bike ride, or participating in other physical activities that you enjoy. If you’re concerned that movement might make your condition worse, your physical therapist can provide reassurance and help you determine which exercises and at what intensity and duration are appropriate and individualized to you. Movement is medicine!

4. Establish healthy sleep habits. Sleep is crucial for daily functioning and has been shown to have effects on how your body processes and perceives pain. This means that if you don’t get adequate sleep, you may experience increased pain, reduced quality of life, and a whole host of other negative effects. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to help set your body’s natural biological clock. You should also try to block blue light before bed, which has been shown to disrupt the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This includes the light from your cell phone, television, or tablet. (Tip: Most smart devices now have blue light screens/off switches which can be manually or automatically turned on at night.) Lastly, make your bed a sacred sleeping place; try not to do anything in your bed other than sleep and sexual activities.
If you are struggling with pain, know that you are not alone and there is hope. Our qualified physical therapists at North County Water and Sports Therapy Center can help you establish an individualized plan to manage your pain.

Tori Williams, PT, DPT

1. Louw, A. Why Do I Hurt? Workbook. Orthopedic Physical Therapy Products; 2016.
2. Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga E, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur. 2014;57(3):26-27. doi:10.1016/j.dza.2014.07.007.
3. Hannibal KE, Bishop MD. Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. Physical Therapy. 2014;94(12):1816-1825. doi:10.2522/ptj.20130597.
4. Ambrose KR, Golightly YM. Physical exercise as non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain: Why and when. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 2015;29(1):120-130. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2015.04.022.
5. Siengsukon CF, Al-Dughmi M, Stevens S. Sleep Health Promotion: Practical Information for Physical Therapists. Physical Therapy. 2017;97(8):826-836. doi:10.1093/ptj/pzx057.
6. Louw A, Puentedura EJ, Zimney K, Schmidt S. Know Pain, Know Gain? A Perspective on Pain Neuroscience Education in Physical Therapy. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2016;46(3):131-134. doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.0602.

“You are what you eat!” Nutrition and Injury Recovery

We have all heard it… “You are what you eat.” But did you ever realize that what you eat can actually affect your body’s ability to heal after an injury? Your body has a natural recovery system with a set timeline as to how long it takes for certain tissues to heal. Without even knowing it, you could be fighting against that system by giving your body the wrong fuel, either by eating foods that increase inflammation in your body or by not eating the foods that naturally reduce inflammation. Why are we as physical therapists so concerned about inflammation? Well, we are so happy you asked…

As we mentioned above, your body has a natural recovery system when injury occurs to the tissues. Did you know that inflammation is actually the first step in that recovery system? Most people have heard about the importance of reducing inflammation after an injury but it is actually your body’s natural response to injury. Inflammation is characterized by swelling, redness, heat and pain. The swelling is due to damage to the tissues and vessels in the area of the injury causing an accumulation of fluid in the area of the injury. The redness and heat is due to increased blood flow to the injured area as well as the increase in cellular activity necessary for starting the healing/rebuilding process of the tissues. The pain can be due to the initial damage to the tissues, the increase in pressure on the tissues due to the swelling, and/or the chemical irritant of the tissue healing cells that come to the injured area. So, inflammation is normal and necessary for healing, but we need to make sure that the inflammation does not get out of control, or to the chronic stage, where it can become more of a hindrance than a help to injury recovery.

Where does the food come in? We could spend hours talking about nutrition and the science behind it all but, in the interest of simplicity, we will just lay out the basics. Everyone knows that high fat diets probably aren’t the way to go for healthy living, but you have to consider the type of fats to include in your diet (or exclude from your diet). Saturated fats, trans fats or fats rich in omega-6 should be limited as they can increase inflammation in your body. This means you should limit processed foods high in saturated or trans fats and vegetable oils like corn, safflower, sunflower and soybean oil. Instead, include monounsaturated fats that are rich in omega-3 such as fish, olive oil, and avocados, as they can help to reduce inflammation. Mixed nuts, flax oil, ground flax and other seeds can be beneficial as well. Diets with high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios can result in a decrease in collagen production, which can negatively affect healing as collagen is important for tissue healing. Therefore, aim for a balance with more omega-3 rich foods compared to omega-6 foods to help support healing.

Other areas you can spice up your diet (yes, pun intended) and promote healing is with dietary spices, herbs, and extracts. Tumeric and garlic have long been used to reduce inflammation. Bromelain, a plant extract found in pineapples, and Boswellia can help in reducing inflammation as well. Flavonoids found in cocoa, tea, red wine, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can assist in reducing inflammation due to their antioxidant actions. Now, remember what we said about the inflammatory phase being a normal part of the healing process? We want to control inflammation, not completely obliterate it, so eating only foods with anti-inflammatory properties is not recommended either. A well balanced diet with proper balance is the goal, making sure to stay hydrated to assist in flushing the body of any toxins or waste products from the injured tissues. Be sure to check with your physician to ensure any of these dietary changes are safe, as individuals and circumstances vary.

While nutrition can assist in the healing from injury, it is only part of the equation. At North County Water and Sports Therapy Center, our therapists work one on one with the patients for the full hour of the treatment session. This allows the therapist ample time for measuring and monitoring for signs of inflammation both before and after treatment in order to make sure that your body is responding well to treatment. We utilize manual therapy for reduction of inflammation to maximize the healing process. We can utilize modalities including (but not limited to) cold therapy, electrical stimulation, and KinesioTape to assist in the reduction of inflammation and its associated pain and swelling. We provide supportive techniques and exercises for the patient to perform independently to assist in the management of inflammation so that the healing process and tissue repair continues between treatments with your therapist. This attention to detail and individualized approach to treatment helps our patients successfully move out of the inflammatory phase of healing, and progress through each of the phases of healing, ultimately getting back to the activities they love to do.

Nutritional information in this blog is from Dr. John Berardi, PhD at Visit his website for further information about the effects of nutrition on injury recovery.

Choosing Physical Therapy over Opiates for Pain Management

Choosing Physical Therapy over Opiates for Pain Management

116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain1. Historically, opioids were thought to be a safe and effective way to manage acute and chronic pain. However, more recently, we have become more aware of the serious consequences that have evolved from overutilization of these drugs. Potential side effects of opioid use include depression, overdose, addiction, and withdrawal when stopping use2. Additionally, opioids have not been found to significantly improve long-term health outcomes. Opioids are a classification of drugs that includes hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), tramadol, oxymorphone (Opana), fentanyl, and methadone, which are commonly prescribed for varying severities of pain.2

Overutilization of opioids for pain management has become a very concerning issue in our country. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has reported that the number of first time abusers of opioids increased from 628,000 in 1990 to 2.4 million in 2004.3 According to data published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, at least 2 million Americans have disordered opioid use involving prescribed medications, and about 90 Americans die each day from opioid overdose (including prescribed and non-prescribed substances)1. “The quantity of opioid prescriptions in the United States is staggering, with the CDC reporting 259 million prescriptions written in 2012, enough for every single American adult to have a bottle of pills.1”

When appropriate, doctors prescribe opioids to treat pain because they interrupt pain signals to the brain, inhibiting the perception of pain in the body. In proper doses, opioids are an appropriate pain management tool in some cases, most commonly utilized to get through a short duration of severe pain, as in after surgery or injury. However, they have not been found to be an effective tool for long-term pain management, and the CDC recommends other approaches like physical therapy in most cases. While pain medications reduce pain by masking it, physical therapy can help to alleviate pain by addressing the cause or source of the symptoms, without the harmful side-effects

In a recent randomized controlled trial involving 240 patients with moderate-severe chronic back, hip, and knee pain, treatment with opioids was not found to be superior to non-opioid treatments.1 In another study, receiving physical therapy as the first intervention after onset of low back pain reduced the likelihood of receiving an opioid prescription by 87% compared with patients who never received PT services.3 Physical therapy treats pain through movement, utilizing internal pain relief mechanisms and retraining the body to improve or maintain mobility and quality of life. We utilize education, hands-on care, and movement-based interventions. Due to overwhelming evidence, the CDC now recommends nonpharmaceutical approaches for treatment of chronic pain, such as physical therapy.1

Physical therapy is one of the safest and most effective alternatives to drugs for pain management. Management of acute pain is key to avoiding the progression to persistent pain. Addressing pain quickly can be an important factor. In a study about work-related injuries, same-day access to physical therapy after injury led to faster recovery, lower healthcare costs, and less time away from work.1 As physical therapists, our job is to educate people about their current condition to reduce fear and apprehension, and help them to address and manage their symptoms to prevent symptoms from becoming chronic or recurrent.

78% of Americans surveyed prefer drug-free pain management to opioid-based treatments1, and we agree! There is a better way. Try PT first!

1. Mintken PE, Moore JR, Flynn TW. Physical Therapists’ Role in Solving the Opioid Epidemic. JOrthop Sports Phys Ther 2018;45(5):349-353.
2. “Physical Therapy vs Opioids: When to Choose Physical therapy for Pain Management”. Move Forward PT. APTA, 2018,
3. Rosenblum A, Marsch LA, Joseph H, Portenoy RK. Opioids and the Treatment of Chronic Pain: Controversies, Current Status, and Future Directions. Experiemental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2008;16(5):405-416.
4. “Health Center on Opioid Use for Pain Management: Physical Therapist Services to Avoid Opioids”. Move Forward PT. APTA, 2018.