physical therapy

Fibromyalgia, Part 1

The term Fibromyalgia is widely used nowadays. Quite a number of people say they have fibromyalgia, especially with chronic pain over multiple parts of their body. However, how much do you understand this condition? We know it's meaning, derived from three words: "fibro" (fibrous tissue), "myo" (muscles), and "algia" (pain). However, medically, there is still a lot we do not know about it.

Not a Disease
Fibromyalgia affects middle aged women. The incidence is much more in female than male. We still do not know either the cause or the course of it. Therefore, fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome, not a disease. A syndrome is a collection of symptoms. The hallmark of fibromyalgia is the generalized, chronic musculoskeletal pain. However, it is commonly associated with psychologically-related symptoms such as anxiety and stress. 

Injury in Musicians: Flutist

Sports injury is not a new term and everyone can understand the relationship between sports and injury. However, do you realize injury to musicians is common as well?

Association with the Amount of Practice
It may sound strange at first to hear of injuries being associated with the playing of music. But it's less difficult to understand when comparing it to marathon runners. Statistics show injuries increase tremendously when the runners run more than 19 miles a week. It's obvious there is a limit to how much physical stress our bodies can withstand before injuries occur. My daughter practices 1–2 hours a day, and she is already in pain. Many musicians practice over six hours a day, and I believe most of them live with pain to varying degrees.

What is the Physical Stress in Musicians?

The Forgotten Joint, Part 2

Last month, we talked about what the patellofemoral joint (PFJ) is and where it is located (The Forgotten Joint, Part 1). This month, we will continue with how to differentiate pain from the knee area and pain from the PFJ. But first we need to understand the biomechanics of the PFJ.

Biomechanics of the PFJ
The knee cap works as a single pulley with the quadriceps and the patellar tendon being the ropes attached to the top and bottom ends, respectively. Its function is to increase the efficiency of the quadriceps muscle in stabilizing the knee, especially in weight bearing position. The resultant force from the pull of these two ropes is the compression force to the PFJ. Just like in other joint pain, the more compression is at the joint, the more pain a patient will experience. At the PFJ, the compression increases as the knee goes into more bent positions.

The Gaiety of Gait

As a physical therapist, I love reading people’s posture and analyzing people’s gait. The manner in which someone walks can tell you so much. It is fun. It is like a puzzle waiting for you to solve.

The gait pattern is a result of three different components: stiffness, weakness and compensation. If the knee joint is stiff, you cannot bend it. If the quadriceps is weak, you cannot stand on your leg without buckling. However, many people have stiff joints and weak muscles and yet they can still function. How? Because their body figures out a way to compensate for their problem. Let's examine three gait patterns to illustrate this point.

Stay Safe While Shoveling Snow

Winter is here, and the inevitable snowfalls that accompany it. While shoveling snow can be a good exercise when performed correctly and with safety in mind, many people are shoveling with incorrect biomechanics—which put them at risk for injury.

Snow shoveling is a repetitive activity believed to cause tens of thousands of back, neck and shoulder injuries each year, ranging from muscle strain and sprains to significant medical emergencies requiring emergency room visits.

To protect yourself from potential injury, shovelers should follow these common-sense tips:


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